Distributor: 88 Films
BBFC Classification: 18
Director: Zalman King
Starring: Sherilyn Fenn, Richard Tyson, Louise Fletcher, Burl Ives, Juanita Moore, Martin Hewitt
There was a period in the mid-1980s and into the early ’90s where there were a lot of so-called erotic thrillers being released, films where the plot involved somebody (Michael Douglas or Willem Dafoe were usually a good bet) being obsessed with somebody else while synth-led pop rock and saxophone music played way too loudly in the background. The blame can really be attributed to the steamy Mickey Rourke/Kim Basinger romp 9 1/2 Weeks from 1986 as every thriller released in the aftermath tried to outdo the last by amping up the sex and nudity (and saxophone music), and although most were forgetful nonsense there were one or two that had some substance to them, with 1988′s Two Moon Junction being one of the better, more well known ones.
This is perhaps down to the performances from the two leads, Sherilyn Fenn (Twin Peaks/Wild at Heart) and Richard Tyson (Kindergarten Cop/Kingpin), who don’t just give good performances but have such a powerful sexual chemistry that you can see exactly why they were both cast. Fenn plays April, a Southern débutante with a privileged lifestyle who is engaged to the very rich and well-to-do Chad Douglas Fairchild (Martin Hewitt). April visits the local carnival and takes a shine to Perry (Tyson), a rough-around-the-edges fairground worker who is very much the opposite of her fiancé. After initially brushing him off she returns to the carnival and the pair begin a steamy affair, unaware that they are being watched by the local Sheriff under the instruction of April’s grandmother Belle (Louise Fletcher – Flowers in the Attic). As the wedding day approaches April must decide between the safety of marrying Chad or the danger of living a different life with Perry.
Totally awash with a dream-like atmosphere that you don’t really seem to get any more in mainstream films, Two Moon Junction doesn’t go for the action angle like, say, Basic Instinct but it does have an edge of danger running throughout, mostly thanks to Richard Tyson and his brooding performance where he looks like he’s about to explode at any given moment, and it is that constant threat that draws your attention to him when he is on the screen, despite the fact that, deep down, Perry isn’t a bad guy, just a mysterious one (the original trailer doesn’t do the film any justice in that department). He does, however, have moments of humility, like in the scene where he and April are having a row outside of their motel room in front of a crowd of bystanders, his charming way of deflecting April’s insults earning him a round of applause.
However, anybody watching the film for the first time nowadays may find the film a little old-fashioned and not just because of the hairstyles. The constant soft focus close-ups of Sherilyn Fenn’s face do give the film a television soap opera feel that doesn’t do it any favours, and the use of arty lighting and silhouette throughout the film does give it the look of a music video – this being the ’80s, make that a power ballad video – that tries to increase the sense of drama but doesn’t really work. And it doesn’t need to because there’s quite enough going on with the smouldering performances to keep you watching.
Two Moon Junction may not have the excitement of Fatal Attraction or Basic Instinct but it is a darned sight better than laughable guff like Body of Evidence, although it is about 20 minutes too long and that damn saxophone score is highly irritating. However, if you can forgive the trappings of the era it was made in, get past the slightly dumb dialogue and just let yourself get swept away with the sexually-charged performances then it is a film worth spending time with and one that you’ll come away from with the feeling that you’ve been on something of a journey, along with the characters in the story.
Special Features: Trailer, collector’s booklet and reversible sleeve.
UK Release Date: 19TH mAY 2014