Mortal Passions - This is what guilty pleasure movies are made out of...
PLOT - A scheming woman (Krista Errickson) seeks to kill her husband to collect the insurance money, and is willing to seduce anyone she can to do it - including her husband's brother.
LOWDOWN - So last summer my re-discovered love for the movie Waxwork was sparked yet again. Right away I found myself going out and buying as many of actor Zach Galligan's lesser known films. Right before my birthday my best friend surprised me with a little gem he found for me on ebay...this being the VHS tape to Mortal Passions. I'm a huge tape collector, and I had seen this cover from time to time while on tape hunts. Never before did I even take the time to flip it over and read the back since it just looked like your typical late 80's/early 90's cheesy exotic thriller which mostly got confused with soft core porn. Lucky for me, my friend Mike found the tape and ordered it for me and the second I came back from this past fall's HorrorHound weekend, I was very eager to pop it in.
Right off the bat you can tell what kind of movie it's going to be. The super cheesy theme playing over the credits, the cover of a half naked woman bending backwards, a murder mystery...yep there's a theme to the last couple of movies I've reviewed lately. All are exotic thrillers, which play heavily on the key element of a beautiful naked woman who gets caught up in a murder plot. Just a few years shy of the movie that took these ingredients and made them work nicely for once via Basic Instinct. Sadly at the end of the 1980's, a good number of movies both good and bad were sadly forgotten as the decade came to a close.
Mortal Passions tells the story of Todd, a very meek and soft spoken man who suffered a nervous breakdown after his father suddenly died. Overwhelmed by everything, Todd attempts to kill himself but fails. (Not that this is funny, but Todd explains later that he tried killing himself by sitting in his running car in his garage until it ran out of gas. Zach Galligan a few years earlier played in the movie Surviving as a trouble teen who kills himself the same exact way with his girlfriend. Hummm...) Anyways, Todd is married to Emily, a stunning young woman who works nights as a cocktail waitress. Their marriage has begun to crumble over the past year since after Todd's breakdown he's unable to go back to work, forcing Emily to work full time while Todd throws all his time and energy into re-doing his father's old house. Both are seeing a marriage therapist, in which Todd expresses privately to the doctor that he suspects his wife is having an affair. Meanwhile Emily is trying to play the doctor against Todd, making up lies about him and saying that he's become violent.
Of course it isn't long that you learn that Emily is indeed having an affair with a regular who goes to the bar she works at. Here she tells her lover that Todd is ruining her life and if only she could get his insurance money, and sell the house she'll be set for life. Together they hatch a half baked plan that he'll break into the house in the middle of the night and murder Todd making it look like a break-in gone wrong. Of course right before that's about to happen there's a knock at the door in the middle of the night waking Todd and causing Emily to chicken out. Here we meet Todd's older brother Berke, who hasn't been seen in years. Needing a place to stay, he crashes with them and right off the bat knows something is going on between his brother and gorgeous wife.
Todd surprises his brother when he shows him a great deal of cash in a safety despot account that his father left for them. Emily is outraged he's been sitting on this money this whole time. Giving his brother the second key to the cash, he tells him he deserves that money since he's always looked after him his whole life.
It isn't long before Todd tells his brother what he suspects and Berke follows Emily one night back to her lover's apartment. Here he shoots and murders him in cold blood, and before we know it there's a very bizarre and over the top sex scene between the two. Berke and Emily bury the body in the back yard of Todd's house and Berke tells Emily if she goes to the police he'll kill her.Gotta love the scene where Emily blows Todd in bed just so he won't go outside and see his brother digging the grave. Classic!
Before long the murder lover's girlfriend shows up asking questions since almost everyone at the bar knew Emily and him were having an affair. Suspecting something happened, she teams up with Todd trying to discover exactly what happened and why?
Sounds good huh? Well it's sorta hard to describe my true thoughts on Mortal Passions. Of course the huge selling point for me with this movie was Zach Galligan. The man looks adorable in this just one year after he ruled as Mark Loftmore in Waxwork. Playing the shy, soft spoken younger brother was the perfect part for him and believe it or not I feel had the script been written a little bit better he really would have gotten his chance to shine.
The movie takes a few very strange turns, and in the end it seems sorta like some big clustered mess. All I know is at the end there's a pretty legit fight between Zach and the guy playing his brother (WHO might I add looks NOTHING like Zach, in fact it's even joked about in the movie. I feel casting like this is just plain lazy. At least make them look a little alike. Come on now...)
The actors do an okay job with the story they have, and the movie after you re-watch it does have some really good elements despite it's many flaws. But hey, it wasn't trying to fool anybody with what kind of movie it was. This is a cheesy thriller that is a complete guilty pleasure. The ending with the car flipping off the beach was a tad over the top, along with that stupid ending line but still, I enjoyed it for exactly what it was. I'm proudly bringing my VHS copy with me in a few weeks to have Zach Galligan to sign and I really can't wait to hear this thoughts about this movie.