Monday, May 4, 2009

Color of Night (1994)


The 90’s sex thriller. It is hard to go wrong with little sub-genre of sleazy entertainment. All of them are great, from Wild Things, to Basic Instinct, to Fatal Instinct (I know, the title is embarrassing… But, it has Michael Madsen is in it), to just about anything that plays on Cinemax between 11pm and 3am on any weeknight.

By any measure, though, Color of Night is a real standout when it comes to this type of movie. Oh hell, it is a standout when put up against any movie.

Right off the bat, the screen is filled with the words “Andrew G. Vajna presents”. The first time I noticed this name was when I saw Basic Instinct 2: Risk Addiction in the theater. Billy and I burst out laughing. I mean Vajna… are you kidding? Is that a real name?

Anyway, once the movie begins, we are treated to some lady… well, there is just no other way to say it… she’s blowing a gun.

From here, we jump to Bruce Willis as Dr. Bill Capa, giving some sort of therapy to this aforementioned nut. Now, I have never seen a psychologist or psychiatrist, but I am pretty sure that if some guy I was paying to listen to me was being so smarmy, I would be pretty pissed off, too. Unfortunately, instead of just firing the guy, the woman tosses herself through a window.

As a very corny organ-driven score swells, we see a teary-eyed Dr. Capa looking down at the dead woman. At this point, he loses the ability to see the color red.

I am sure that this happens, by the way. People get upset and they just stop seeing certain colors, right? It seems valid to me.

So, the doctor leaves his practice and decides to visit his psychiatrist friend (played by Scott Bakula) in sunny California.

Dr. Capa is invited to sit in on a session. Is that common? I think it would kind of piss me off if my doctor was just inviting his doctor friends to hang out. But, no one seems to mind.

It is here that we find out that the friend is giving some sort of group therapy or counseling to an absolutely stellar cast of B-movie legends. This group includes Leslie Ann Warren as some sort of kleptomaniac nympho, Lance Henricksen as a grieving widower who likes to smoke, Brad Dourif as a compulsive of some sort, and Kevin J. O’Connor as a whiney artist.

Oh, and there is also some weird young boy named Richie, who has an oddly forced low voice and appears to be played by a woman. But, I don’t want to give anything away.

Anyway, what do these people all have in common? Other than being white, I am lost. So, I have no idea why Dr. Bob Moore (Bakula) would put them all together for therapy. Just laziness, I suppose.

As you might guess, Dr. Moore is killed. For reasons I cannot even begin to understand, Dr. Capa is just allowed to take over the group. And live in Dr. Moore’s house.

So, now I am starting to think. Do I have any friends who have a job that I want and live in a better place than me? I mean, if such a friend were to die while I was visiting, it looks like I am allowed to just take over. Does this movie take place in the middle ages? What in the hell kind of laws are being passed in California?

In no time, Dr. Capa meets Rose. It is also about this time that Dr. Capa picks up a weird habit. He starts narrating scenes for no reason. I mean his character narrates aloud (not overdubbed).

For example, when Rose shows up unexpectedly at his…ehem… home, he quietly says, “There she is… a little angel… dancing on the head of a pin”. He does this thing a few more times throughout the movie. Needless to say, it is pretty annoying.

Rose is the beautiful, mysterious woman that kind of shows up in Dr. Capa’s life right after his friend dies. Wait a minute… I know her from somewhere. Those enormous teeth, I have seen them before. I can’t quite place it.

It seems that Dr. Capa is not the only one lucky in love. Almost every single person at his group therapy sessions is dating a wonderful and mysterious woman. But, I doubt there is any connection. Right? Anyway, if that was important, I am sure that it would not be almost everyone at group. It would be everyone. As it is, though, Ritchie, that really odd looking young man, is not dating anyone. So, it is probably just coincidence about everyone else.

Anyway, in no time at all, Dr. Capa and Rose have escalated their relationship. This is revealed to the audience through numerous awkwardly staged sex scenes (all with accompanying music that seems to have been lifted from The Golden Girls or something). For example, at about an hour into the movie, the two of them are having a heated makeout session, when the good doctor delivers a line… while spitting out a mouthful of Rose’s hair. Are you telling me there was no better take to use??!!

This leads directly to the film’s most notorious scene. The two end up in a pool and we get a full frontal shot of Bruce Willis. Well… sort of. In fact, for a split second you can kind of see part of Bruce’s Willis. But, in keeping with the ineptness of this movie’s steamy scenes… Well, let’s just say that the doctor does not seem all that interested in Rose, afterall.

Speaking of inept… There is one moment where, I think, we are supposed to believe that they took a short break from their all day sex-a-thon to go hang gliding. Either that or the shot is supposed to be symbolic. But, if it is supposed to be symbolic, wouldn’t it make more sense to show a couple of eagles soaring and not just a couple of dudes hang gliding? No, I am pretty sure Dr. Capa and Rose are supposed to have taken a break from humping to fly around.

One or two more people die before we are treated to a scene in which Leslie Ann Warren’s character is out on the town with her new girlfriend.

Man, I gotta tell you. That girlfriend of hers looks really familiar. I mean, it seems like I seen her somewhere before. But, maybe with less chalky makeup and brown hair. Or, maybe with short blonde hair and glasses. I don’t know. I just can’t place it. Those teeth…

Before long, Dr. Capa and his group figure out that they have all been dating the same woman. As they all start to argue, Ritchie kind of freaks out and leaves. It is a strange reaction, because he is the only one that was not dating anyone. Maybe he is jealous or something.

In the end there is a pretty awesome fight including a nail gun. We also find out- now are you sitting down?- Rose is Ritchie! They are one and the same.

Actually, if you did not figure this out within about two minutes of first seeing Ritchie, then you probably need glasses. At least.

Seriously, this movie is a beautiful mess. My brother, Billy, described it as “grotastic”. I think that is about as perfect a description as you are going to get.

Four and a half fingers.


  1. lol it sounds like a whole bunch of movies rolled into one and i will probably never watch this

  2. JM,
    Wonderful review! Rewatching this movie last night was like reuniting with a long lost lover. I am going to buy the DVD today, if only to re-watch every scene with Lesley Ann Warren, who gives the most grosstastic performance in the history of cinema.

    However, I do think we need more discussion about Lt. Hector Martinez, the detective who is possibly the most stereotypical Hispanic character ever placed on celluloid. How did human rights groups not protest this movie on behalf of Central/South America?

  3. There is simply no reason for Lt. Hector Martinez being in this movie. He is truly a rare example of a main character that could have totally been eliminated and no one would notice. It is incredible!

    You are right, though. His entire character amounts to nothing more than a Speedy Gonzalez imitation.

    That ending, too! Martinez's voice is clearly dubbed into the scene so that the audience would be a little less confused as to why in the hell Bruce Willis is laughing!


  4. Oh my god! Look at the top picture of Ritchie and look at the picture of Jeremy Melton on our banner. Is it possible that JM is a sexually confused woman?


  5. lol i noticed that too JM, the actors are creepily similar

  6. JM,

    I really resent your comment that Lt. Martinez didn't need to be in the movie. Perhaps you're forgetting the vital role he played as a red herring. I think. Was he supposed to be a red herring? Oh, hell, I don't know.

    Also, Bruce Willis was probably laughing at the end because he realized that absolutely NOTHING had been resolved. It was a laugh of exhasperation. I mean, sure -- the killer is dead. But the person he's been sleeping with is still a schizo, sexually confused boy-girl. And he's still living in his dead friend's house, with absolutely no claim to it. And the people in his therapy group have only gotten more screwed up since he took over. I'd probably be laughing, too.


  7. Hilarious review! I love this awful/genius movie for all the reasons you list. How on earth did it get made?! But thank god it did. Love this site, by the way. I'll be a regular reader from now on.

  8. Ross-

    Thanks for the nice comment. I agree. How this movie was ever made is a complete mystery.