By any plausible measure are these two selections the best of the bunch but they’re certainly a couple of the more chic and original neon-shaded thrillers. Both films directed by Dan Golden and both films starring Maria Ford and the late Rick Dean. Erotic-Thrillers have always been a tasty sub-genre for night owl’s with Cinemax and the average male at your local Mom and Pop video store. Those are the central targets anyway. However, these films have a cult following with a limited percentage of the fans being female, including myself. For me, it has never been about the sex. I have always perceived erotic-thrillers to be an art form that so rarely receives the attention it deserves. Critics will argue that the empire has fallen. These critics seem to forget about the success of Wild Things, Unfaithful, and there’s the odd chance that 50 Shades of Grey may come to the rescue. It’s impossible to compare Naked Obsession and Stripteaser to Exotica, Strip Tease with Demi Moore, or even Showgirls. The original title for Stripteaser was “Zipper’s Crown Palace” but it was altered to Stripteaser likely to cash in on the Strip Tease money train. Stripteaser failed to do so and maybe it isn’t on the same level as Demi Moore, Robert Patrick, black guy, and director but there’s still something here that needs to be dissected and appreciated, starting with Naked Obsession.
Franklyn Carlyle (William Katt) is a city councilman who is on his way to becoming a political leader, due to his nagging wife, and he plans to clean the filthy streets of Dante Square and replace it with a shopping mall. One night he takes a look around the square where he meets what might be the devil. The devil (Rick Dean) dazzles the politician with the dark side and flesh houses. Franklyn discovers another side of himself that he quite enjoys but fears it will get in the way of his chances at the election. Meanwhile, strippers and the people closest to him are dropping like flies.
If I had to pick a favorite, I’d say Naked Obsession comes directly after Stripped to Kill. The soundtrack alone blows all the others in this hybrid-genre out of the water. Incorporate the plucky soundtrack with fleckless acting and brisk dialogue then sprinkle that concoction with the eerie, nightmarish vibe, deception, and dark humor. You got yourself one hell of an adventure. As for the action, Naked Obsession delivers knee stapling, explosions, strangulation mid-coitus, a couple of shootings, and the killer’s death is by far the best part of the film but I cannot go into full detail without spoiling anything.
The dialogue had sinister charm thanks to Robert Dodson, Golden, and Rick Dean for being revolutionary poets with lines like, “Nothing wrong with the dark. You spend half your life in it. Trouble is, most people keep their eyes closed” Then there are quirky lines by the performer (Madison) “You said you didn’t want it cold and it was cold so I nuked it in the microwave,” after Dean’s character demands warm wine.
Not only was Dean a revolutionary poet, he succeeded in making Sam Silver his own. This character isn’t your average homeless drunk. He has charm even without a toothbrush and bar of soap and he’s witty as fuck. He explains that all cities need a balance between light and dark. It’s better to embrace your darker side. I was fortunate enough to interview Dean’s mother, Carole Dean, about her son’s performance and passion for the arts. “This script was written with Rick in mind for this part. I am sure they let him have input. Rick studied this character and truly understood him. Dan often would give Rick one take where he could do his “own thing.” Dan Golden is an actors dream. He works closely with actors and listens to them and puts time into discussion and will explore new directions. I believe this is one of Rick’s best performances. He was fully supported in his home life by Cinda and the rest of his family, he was supported and respected by Dan and the Hollywood community. All of this confidence and support are what an actor needs to do his best work. Rick and I both saw the erotic dancers as artists and they are prey for disturbed men, exactly as depicted in this film. The film shows them to be normal, caring, people who have a talent. They too are actors.” Carole Dean added that her son was “also known as a brilliant stage actor and director. He mostly appeared at the Lost Studio in Los Angeles. He had many good reviews by the LA Times and the LA Weekly.” The world lost an incredible actor who was not only a powerful presence on film but theater as well. As someone who has tried to juggle both, I can tell you that stage acting is not as easy as acting on film.
Alongside Dean are Maria Ford and William Katt. Maria Ford (Lynn) is electrifying and mesmerizing. Though she seems to make poor choices. Never invite a man you just met home with you and ask him to choke you while you’re having an orgasm. Ford portrayed an erotic dancer in numerous films throughout the early 90s and she is an exotic dancer in real life. Now there are several actresses who are also strippers but Ford is the one and only who was consistent with this role on screen. She also seems to be the favorite. Katt brings a touch of class to the film as a man who is bored and unfulfilled. When you hear the man’s name you automatically think; America’s Greatest Hero, Carrie, and House. I will always think of Naked Obsession when his name is brought to my attention. There are a couple of cameos by the cheesy director Fred Olen Ray as the ominous DJ in sun glasses and football player Roger Craig pops in as our lead detective. These actors portraying these characters couldn’t have been better selected. It’s a well balanced cast with unique characters.
I recently tried, unsuccessfully, to contact Billy and Becky Woo who wrote and performed all the songs on the soundtrack. Guys, if you happen to come across this article, please contact me and let me know how I can purchase the songs. “Welcome to the Darkside” appears in the ending credits and while Ford is performing on stage. It sounds like a product of the 80’s which isn’t surprising considering this is 1990. Naked Obsession is filled with well choreographed dance routines but the last act we catch is the most eerie and disturbing act of all. Maybe it’s because Katt is tied to a chair. Maybe it’s because the dancer is frolicking around behind a white mask. OR maybe it’s because the music is so out of place, it adds to the atmosphere. The songs in question are “Goodbye” by Mark Wilson that sounds like a Roy Orbison rip off and “All in Vain” by Billy Woo which may be my favorite track from the soundtrack that I actually play on my podcast. This is also a personal favorite of Quentin Tarantino and winner of Joe Bob Brigg’s “Best Flick” award and he refers to the film as a Drive-In Faust. When it isn’t busy taking itself seriously, Naked Obsession becomes a wisecracking comedy satire. Three and a half stars. Such an unjustly neglected film.
A group of employees and customer’s in Zipper’s Clown Palace are held hostage and asked to perform humiliating tasks at gun point.
This is a tricky one because the first 20 minutes of this film had me soaked with negative thoughts and no desire to finish. It took three attempts to finish as I kept drifting off into a coma. Refreshingly, it was a decent film with ups and downs. I sat back with a glass of scotch and my Transformer sheets and finished the damn thing. Stripteaser is no glass of 21-year-old scotch but it’s a smooth Black Grouse that will leave you with durable enthusiasm.
The film almost entirely takes place in a strip joint. A small, claustrophobic one called “Ziipper’s Clown Palace” that hardly sounds appealing and the outside of the flesh joint proudly masks a gargantuan, horse nosed clown face over the front door. Sexy. We see a loud-mouthed blind man with a perm enter the club near last call and he’s nowhere near ready to go as he draws his pistol on the small crowd and taunts them for hours before a blood bath ensues. The aggressive climax of the film features a brutal shootout with the majority of the cast dying but I won’t waste any time spoiling it for you.
Where the film suffers is the mediocre dialogue by Duane Whitaker. The film is only an hour and ten minutes and the majority of that dialogue goes to Dean’s tedious rants about how obsessed and chemically imbalanced he is. The film should have been 20 minutes longer with more action, character development, and less yawn-inducing diatribe. I hate saying this because I am a Whitaker fan and I met him a few years ago. He was so kind and passionate about his work. That being said, there was a cleverness to some of this dialogue. Dean struts around the stage as the audience is concealed to which direction this crazy personality Neil will be taking next.
Christina (Maria Ford) is flawless. Her vibrant face, legs for days, soft hair, and that cute little beauty mark are all wonders of utopia. The female form is one of the most beautiful creations on Earth and if Maria Ford isn’t high on that list of the ultimate women then I don’t know who is. As for her acting – The look of sheer terror on her face in the middle of the stalker’s motivational speech was incredibly believable. I had chills. That terror places the viewers in Christina’s position as a frozen and hopeless woman who just realized this man has been violating her for a while. He even goes into graphic detail about how he would sniff her panties and assured that everyone does it, even the scoffing dyke. This is before he goes on about how he nailed her last boyfriend to a cross which is why he never called her again. Then we have Lance August as the stuttering virgin who also fancies Christina and ultimately has sex with her at the demands of our psychotic stalker. Bowl haircut and glasses never looked so hot.
There are a couple of lesbian strippers – One being a top heavy b-movie actress Nikki Fritz with an unattractive nose-chain piercing and her delicate flower Ann Marie Holden who is forced to dance for Nell at gun point. R.A. Mihailoff (Leatherface in the third Texas Chainsaw Massacre film) plays our biker bartender who goes by the name “Little.” The credits claim Linnea Quigley played a waitress but I do not recall seeing her so I wonder if this is even true? Quigley already ‘made her place’ in the entertainment industry years ago with bigger roles so I don’t know why she would pop in as an uncredited waitress. Oh and there are the two corrupt cops with a cocaine habit who eventually join in on the fun. The characters in Stripteaser are all over the place.
Stripteaser is far from a masterpiece. Maybe it only deserves two stars but I’m giving it extra points due to Maria Ford’s dance in a wedding gown and red high tops. If you’re going to have a go at either of these films but you find yourself submissive to time wastage, at least give it a chance for Maria Ford and Rick Dean’s performances.