Crimes of Passion (1984) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski) and Tuna

Quick, name a movie where Anthony Perkins is totally loony, hangs around a run-down hotel/motel, talks to himself, peeps through peepholes at naked women, and ends up being killed while in drag wearing a cheap wig.

Maybe I worded the question wrong. Too easy. If you can name a Tony Perkins movie at all, he probably did those things. In addition to Psycho 1 through 37, there's also Crimes of Passion.

Such a strange movie. It's essentially three stories. Kathleen Turner is an uptight workaholic fashion executive who has some kind of psychosexual problem, which she works out through another personality who wanders the streets at night as a $50 hooker. Tony Perkins is some kind of pervert/derelict who claims to be an ex-reverend, and utters sentences from both ends of his split personality, like "Lord, in thy mercy, yeah and verily, smite these douchebags". He isn't sure if he wants to use Turner's body or save her soul. Finally, John Laughlin plays a suburban boy scout of a husband whose deteriorating marriage drives him into the arms of both parts of Kathleen Turner's personality. The movie is about the interaction between the three characters.

Each of the three characters has a unique stylistic element. When Turner's night personality, China Blue, is the focus, the movie uses her characteristic blue and rose pastel lighting, and plays her theme music in the background. Perkins gets harsh reds and yellows, and Onward Christian Soldiers. Laughlin gets natural lighting. So it all seems like some kind of adult version of Peter and the Frigging Wolf. Oh, yeah, there's the oboe, it must be a cop.

The director tops off all the theme music with a heaping helping of wah-wah mutes to punctuate the humorous incidents, like when Gilligan gets hit in the head with a cocoanut.

And then there's the completely unrelated fantasy. Russell liked an unrelated idea and he couldn't fit it into the movie, so here's how he did it. Laughlin and his wife are watching TV one night, and they are channel-surfing when this fantasy comes on. Cutlery falls into a swimming pool, and people dive in to get it. Good stuff, eh? I couldn't figure out any relation of any kind to the rest of the film.

Odd filmmaking, lurid and obsessive, as Ken Russell's films tend to be. He wanted to make a comedy, and he wanted to make a very serious black drama about the underbelly of society, ala 8mm. And then he figured, why not make them both in the same movie? What a concept.

Despite the fact that I've ragged on this movie, it must be the among the most watchable bad movies ever made. You will hit the FF once in a while, but you'll also watch some parts with fascination. The movie was saved from being another "Lonely Lady" by actors who played everything with their tongues deep in their cheeks. Both Perkins (all the time) and Russell (in her hooker guise) play their parts for ultra high camp, and the movie is very entertaining when China Blue and/or Perkins are on screen. Hiring these two was a masterstroke, because they brought an obvious over-the-top glee to the roles that made the whole thing dotty fun.

To add to the general sense of craziness, they both sang. Turner sang "Onward Christian Soldiers" (poorly), and Perkins sang "Forget Your Troubles, C'mon Get Happy" (surprisingly well).

NUDITY: another reason to watch the film.

Turner showed her bosom several times, in both characters, and the film is heavy with both erotic fantasies and more realistic steamy sex scenes.

The other nudity came from a stripper, played by Janice Renney. As far as I know, she has never appeared in any other film.

In addition to the nudity, there are plenty of sexual appliances, and plenty of dirty talk, and it's often quite amusing.

IMDB summary: 5.9 out of 10. Yes, that is about where I would place it as well, but it's much more watchable than most movies of that caliber. Maltin gave it two stars, but I really enjoy it as a guilty pleasure.

DVD info from Amazon. This is the new DVD. See tuna's notes below.

Tuna's comments: Here's the lowdown on the new transfer. The deleted scenes have nothing of interest, and should have been deleted, and I don't think the version has any more exposure than previous UNRATED releases. Now for the good news. You can now actually see the film, and it is actually beautifully lit and photographed. Their use of strobing colored light to simulate neon signs, when seen on a good transfer, is marvelous. The transfer is not perfect, with the occasional dust and pinhole, but it is very good. Director Ken Russell, in the feature length commentary, says it is one of his best films, and I tend to agree. I suppose it belongs in the psychological erotic thriller genre. Highlights for me are nudity from Kathleen Turner, and the performance by Anthony Perkins as the demented street preacher.

I have seen this film at least a dozen times, and enjoyed it more this time than I ever had before. Now, in addition to it being an engaging story well acted, it is visually impressive as well. B

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