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Category:    Home > Reviews > Thriller > The Seduction (1982)

The Seduction (1982)


Picture: B-     Sound: C+     Extras: B     Film: C+



Guilty pleasures don't get much guiltier than 1982's The Seduction, a glossy, but ridiculously contrived potboiler made before the term "stalking" became well known.  But even the lack of laws on the books regarding stalking when the film was made doesn't totally excuse its absence of logic.  Nevertheless, there's plenty of unintentional camp value to be enjoyed in this one.


Then a hot sex symbol from her role on the network television series Flamingo Road, The Seduction marked the first (and last) big-screen starring vehicle for blonde bombshell Morgan Fairchild.  She plays a Los Angeles news anchorwoman named Jamie Douglas, who begins getting stalked by a secret admirer named Derek (Andrew Stevens), a photographer who somehow has enough money to live above her in a house on the same hill in an affluent section of Southern California.


Derek is a lovestruck Peeping Tom who regularly spies on Jamie and snaps pictures of her by pointing his camera with a telescopic lens down the hill while she's doing things like swimming nude in her pool.  He then becomes bolder and begins to violate her personal space by showing up at her workplace and home, which alarms Jamie and her reporter boyfriend (Michael Sarrazin).  The delusional Derek just won't take "no" for an answer.


But when the boyfriend goes to an L.A. police detective he knows, the detective simply tells him that Derek hasn't broken any laws and that he's powerless to do anything.  This cop, played by the late Vince Edwards, may very well be the most frustratingly slow to act law-enforcement officer in movie history.  We're expected to believe, from how the cynical cop rationalizes it, that he's powerless to lift a finger to help a local TV celebrity, who's dating a newspaper reporter acquaintance to boot.  I'd hate to be an ordinary crime victim in this guy's precinct.


The Seduction works on the level of an exploitation movie, and the performances by Fairchild and Stevens are actually pretty good.  It's just the script conveniently forgets certain important details about the world its characters inhabit.  For instance, how does Derek afford to live in such an upscale neighborhood?  Is the Edwards character the only cop in L.A. with the power to do anything?  Why isn't there any security at the station where Jamie works?  And how can a stranger such as Derek walk around the newsroom without ever being noticed?


Because this is a movie that's sparse on details, we see that Derek works at a photography studio, which he either manages or owns.  But whatever his duties may be there, he lets his female assistant handle all his work while he's off stalking Jamie all hours of the day.  The female assistant is also a blonde who's not as beautiful as Jamie but certainly isn't unattractive.  She has an obvious crush on Derek, but he continually rejects her because he's convinced he has a relationship with Jamie.


The Seduction is an attractively photographed, brightly colored film that looks more expensive than the $2 million it cost to make.  That makes some of the sloppy direction and editing in the final reel all the more noticeable.  Two cuts, one involving the continuity of a woman walking down a hill and the other involving a climactic gunshot, are especially awkward.


But in spite of all these shortcomings, The Seduction still somehow manages to entertain.  Part of its appeal, I think, has to do with the psychological battle of wills that develops between two impossibly attractive people, and how the woman eventually turns the tables in a film from an era where we weren't used to seeing women fight back on screen -- this was long before the days of acrobatic female action heroes as tough as any man.


I also think another reason the film succeeds in spite of itself is because Fairchild has a strong screen presence and projects an unexpected amount of intelligence (as she does in real life) in a movie that's obviously more interested in her great body.  And Stevens (now mainly a film producer) is well cast and convincing as a psycho (not unlike a Ted Bundy) whose good looks and neat appearance never makes anyone suspect (at first glance) that he's anything less than perfectly normal.  Stevens (the son of Stella Stevens) never got enough credit for his intense performances in films like this and The Fury.


Anchor Bay's new DVD edition of The Seduction is another refreshingly thorough treatment of a fun B movie.  The picture is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen and the sound is Dolby Digital Mono.  But for a DVD that is not labeled a special edition, there are more extras included here than on many releases which are called "special editions" by bigger companies.  There's a feature-length audio commentary with producers Irwin Yablans (Halloween) and Bruce Cohn Curtis (Dreamscape), who collaborated the previous year on the horror film Hell Night with Linda Blair, and writer-director David Schmoeller.  Also included is the theatrical trailer, and three featurettes, one of which includes a recently recorded group interview with Yablans, Curtis, Schmoeller and supporting players Colleen Camp, who plays Jamie's mouthy friend and neighbor in the film, and Kevin Brophy, who plays a jocular co-worker of Jamie's.  However, the principal actors (Fairchild, Stevens or Sarrazin) are noticeably absent from the retrospective interviews, possibly not wanting to reminisce about a film that was heavily bashed by most critics upon its initial release.  In many ways, however, The Seduction represents what's known as "a good bad movie."


On a historical note, The Seduction was the last film distributed by Avco Embassy Pictures before Norman Lear bought the company and it became Embassy Pictures for its remaining years.  Bette Davis was also reportedly a fan of Morgan Fairchild's performance and the film itself, possibly because Fairchild played an ultimately strong female protagonist in a movie with that old-school gloss.



-   Chuck O'Leary


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