Episode 61: Color of Night (1994) REROTICA SERIES

Film chosen by Patrick, introduced by Devlin

Our journey through the seamy, sleazy, seductive and sadly short-lived erotic thriller boom of the 80s/90s has thrown up this anomaly – the Walt Disney-produced (well, Hollywood Pictures, but it still counts!) psychiatrist murder mystery thriller Color of Night. Veteran director Richard Rush’s career began by making propaganda during the Korean War before he started directing features all the way back in 1960, taking in biker and exploitation pics in the ensuing decade, and relatively acclaimed offbeat genre-bending comedies in the 1970s with Getting Straight and Freebie and the Bean and eventually cementing his reputation with the Academy Award-nominated The Stunt Man in 1980. However, his career stalled out for the 14 years between that film and this, with only a scripting credit on the Mel Gibson comedy Air America to his name.

Bruce Willis was still only 6 years removed from his explosive coming-out party Die Hard, but his inconsistent quality control radar had already landed him in trouble with the flop one-two of Bonfire of the Vanities and Hudson Hawk tainting his reputation as a major league star. Perhaps seeking to find a more grown-up audience, stretch his legs, push boundaries…as we dig around to try and fathom his reasoning behind signing on to this film, the decision only seems to become more perplexing. But, his career loss is our gain, as the resulting film has to rank as one of the most bizarre and misguided studio pictures of the decade. And to be fair Bruce, well, Bruce gave his all to the part. Or at least, gave some of his parts…

…which leads us nicely to Matt’s magnificent genre bingo board. Throughout RErotica season, which, to be fair, should be every season, you can play along with us and see just how many of the below cliches, tropes, and shenanigans pop up (ha!) during your home viewings. Be sure to take a shot (or just give a hearty cheer) when Bruce’s chap makes its appearance to mark off the ‘full frontal’ square (and in a film this surprisingly graphic, you may want to make sure that shot has a slightly lower ABV content).

Matt’s Erotic Thriller Bingo Board

I’m loath to give away much more in this introduction – suffice to say, this was a bewildering but bonding experience for the panel, a revelation for the 3 of us who hadn’t seen it, and a fascinating reminiscence for film-picker Patrick. How a previous Academy Award-nominated director and favourite of Francois Truffaut, a fluctuating but still bankable movie star on the verge of a Tarantino-inspired boost, and a future Academy Award nominated screenwriter in Billy Ray came together to create something so…unique, and more importantly why, is a question that kept us chatting away for quite some time.

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