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Carnal Crimes (1991) and he would eventually become the master of the DTV sequel as well with Mirror Images (1992) being followed by an excellent 1993 sequel and Animal Instincts (1992) becoming a trilogy. Although a number of the key obsessions that would define Dark's erotic thrillers were established in Carnal Crimes, it was the follow-up, Secret Games, where Dark really found his groove with Secret Games perfecting the “bored housewife” scenario and spawning a trilogy of its own.
Monday, April 12, 2021
If the erotic thriller were to be analyzed through a Gartner Hype Cycle, the genre could currently be seen as experiencing its “Slope of Enlightenment”. Time has revealed the erotic thriller to offer much more than it was ever given credit for during its heyday or “Peak of Inflated Expectations”. Little wonder (Or perhaps it's ironic?) then the genre and its complex depictions of sexuality are finally starting to gain appreciation again when the prevailing attitudes towards the types of sexuality, particularly female sexuality, seen in 90's erotic thrillers seem increasingly illiberal. While legends like Paul Verhoeven and William Friedkin owned the big-budget studio side of the genre with benchmarks like Basic Instinct (1992) and Jade (1995), even more fascinating was the direct-to-video/late night cable area, the undisputed champion of which was Gregory Dark. After revolutionizing adult films with his outrageous and surreal style, Dark, along with producer Walter Gernert, AKA Walter Dark, the second half of the Dark Bros, noticed a niche to be filled in the marketplace for sexually charged, noir-based potboilers a good year before Basic Instinct. The erotic thrillers made by Dark from 1991 to 1996 represent the very best the genre has to offer. The genesis of them all, Carnal Crimes, saw Dark was already confident in the ideas he wanted to explore with his softcore films as he found himself becoming an auteur in a new medium.
Despite her attorney husband Stanley being an overweight, neglectful louse, Stanley's wife Elise is desperate to bring back some spark in their long defunct love-life, though she fails to turn Stanley's attention away from his work. Something changes in Elise when Stanley introduces her to Renny (Martin Hewitt), a mysterious photographer with a penchant for sadomasochistic imagery at an exhibit of Renny's work. Immediately taken by something in Renny, Elise soon finds herself in Renny's shop and not long after outside his apartment fire escape, beginning an affair that briefly fills the void in Elise's romantic life. The fling quickly takes a turn for the dangerous when Elise becomes aware of Renny's past, suddenly finding herself the central player in a twisted game.