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22 December, 2009 / Erik

Best of Yakmala 2010: Color of Night

With another year down the drain, it is time to honor the films that stood out in the memory of the Yakmala Group.  Entering the Yakmala Hall of Fame does not mean the movie is from this year or even one we’ve screened in the past twelve months. A Best Of film just requires persistence of memory. We usually do Best Of in January, but with our Xmas movie options pretty much exhausted, we chose to do Best Of in lieu of Yulemala. Let’s start with “Color of Night.”

One of our rotating themes is “Full Frontal Yakmala,” films in which nudity is a major calling card of the film, but not necessarily an attractive aspect. “Color of Night” is such a film. After the success of “Basic Instinct,” filmmakers all over the world rushed to create bigger budget “Erotic Thrillers” hoping to catch lightning in a bottle. Now, anyone who had Cinemax at the time already knew the “Erotic Thriller” sat in the ghetto of filmmaking for years and the difference between the sub-genre and softcore porn is a hazy fog filter at best.

“Color of Night” stars Bruce Willis as a despondent psychiatrist who blames himself for the hilarious death of a patient. This event leaves Willis’s character color blind. Taking a leave of absence from his practice, he goes to visit his old pal SCOTT BAKULA in sunny Los Angeles. The first time I saw this movie, I expected it to be Clive Barker’s “Lord of Illusion” because of Bakula. He wasn’t exactly a star at the time, but not exactly obscure either. Anyway, Bakula leads a therapy group consisting of a neat freak played by Brad Dourif, a nymphomaniac played by Leslie Anne Warren, a S&M enthusiast played by Kevin J. O’Connor, a shattered ex-cop played by Lance Henriksen, and Richie, a sexually ambiguous young man who is NOT PLAYED by the film’s romantic lead Jane March.

Look at the above pictures. There is no way this confused young man is played by flesh in the pan mid-90s sex kitten Jane March. It’s unreasonable to think such a thing.

Anyway, Bakula ends up dead rather quickly in a tribute(?) to “Psycho” and all of his therapy group members are suspects. At this point, the film introduces Ruben Blades as a gruff LA cop. The life Blades breathes into this character is so mesmerizing and odd, he quickly earned a Torgo mark.

So the film steams along as Willis talks to each of the group members and they attempt to give reasons why other members might kill Bakula. At some point, Jane March appears as flighty chick who is kind of allergic to clothing. She and Willis have sex a lot in between the scenes of, um, detective work. Eventually all signs point to Richie, the young man who is NOT PLAYED by Jane March, and his brother. Other secrets are revealed and Blades goofs around a lot. At one point, Willis goes to a party and Kevin J. O’Connor gets killed. Willis eventually saves Jane March from Richie’s brother and Blades shouts for help as the film comes to a close; which restores Willis’s ability to see color (of night).

“Color of Night” is a special type of film in which the director just tries too hard. The film is littered with fancy camera tricks like smash-zooms, rack focus, split diopter shots, and lens flares. In an attempt to make this more than a skin flick, director Richard Rush overcompensates and the results look like the effort of a first time director. Rush is capable of making good movies. He made 1980’s cult classic “The Stunt Man.” One could argue he means the film to look amateurish, but that would willfully ignore just how straight-faced this film is with every over-the-top moment, every bit of gratuitous nudity, every goofy revelation, and every poorly realized camera trick.

The tension between the outright silliness of its story and the dedication to it by the filmmaking is what makes the movie so enjoyable. It is unquestionably poor craftmanship — it even fails at the most basic level of making Jane March desirable — but it is probably the most entertaining film to come out of the era of “Basic Instinct” copy cats. Where the rest give you tedious attempts at titillation, “Color of Night” gives you a killer who tries to drop a car on Bruce Willis.

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4 Comments

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  1. Digital Capacitor : / Oct 31 2010 7:59 am

    Bruce Willis should also get a lifetime achievement award for the many great films that he had ::

  2. Bill / Jan 17 2011 2:19 am

    Yes Richie is played by Jane March. Stop looking at the pic & look at the credits. Also stop confusing your incorrect opinions with facts! (‘tard)

  3. Fran / Feb 23 2011 8:19 pm

    No, Richie is not played by Jane Marsh. He is a confused young boy, probably played by a male stunt double.

  4. Jessica / Jun 12 2013 3:35 am

    Last week I watched this film and overall didn’t mind it, but I can’t see a resemblance between Richie and Rose aside from their eye-color. Seriously this is going to be in my head for at least three weeks. If Jane March didn’t play Richie then please somebody tell me who did.

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