Director/Screenplay – Lawrence Simeone, Producer – Ronnie Hadar, Photography – Thomas L. Callaway, Music – Shuki Levy, Special Effects – Class “A” Special Effects (Supervisor– Ron W. Trost), Makeup Effects – James Ryder, Production Design – Robert Benedict. Production Company – Libra Films/Saban International
Shannen Doherty (Madeleine Dalton), Judd Nelson (Dr Wendell Jennings), Kristian Alfonso (Christine Madigan), Michael Woods (Mike Dalton), Drew Snyder (Alex Saunders), Shell Danielson (Judy Prescott)
Madeleine Dalton and her husband Mike engage in increasingly wilder sex. This is something that has been suggested by her psychologist Dr Wendell Jennings as a means of spicing up their marriage. Wendell becomes increasingly more concerned when Mike starts introducing blindfolds and bondage to their games. Around the same time, Madeleine’s sister Christine, a police detective, is investigating a series of murders in which women have all been blindfolded, handcuffed and then killed. These are identical to killings that were conducted five years ago in San Francisco by a Bobby Aldridge who jumped off a bridge before he could be apprehended. Christine comes to believe that Bobby is still alive and is now stalking Madeleine.
In the late 1980s/early 90s, films such as 9½ Weeks (1986) and Basic Instinct (1992) ushered in a new era of sexual permissiveness and explicitness in Hollywood. European filmmakers have had it out in the open for years and seem to regard on-screen depiction of sexuality as a matter-of-fact subject. However, Hollywood, or at least America, suffers from an acute sense of Puritanical guilt regarding sex. While eroticism was allowed loose on screen during the 1990s, it was also undercut by a strong sense that by unleashing these things those who do so will be punished. On the screen in the 1980s and 90s, any sense of erotic liberation was always unhealthily tied to pathologically disturbed psychology – see Blue Velvet (1986), Fatal Attraction (1987), Basic Instinct, Sliver (1993), Color of Night (1994), Disclosure (1994) and numerous Basic Instinct imitators. Even a film like 9½ Weeks has the view at the end that the heroine must turn away and reject her new found world of erotic sensuality because it is getting out of control.
Blindfold: Acts of Obsession sets out to imitate the Basic Instinct formula – it features a popular name actress (in this case Beverly Hills 90210 (1990-2000) brat Shannen Doherty) willing to shed their clothes; an edgy form of sexual practice (in this case very light bondage). Inevitably tied to it is a sense of disturbed psychology – one that clearly implies that off-the-mainstream sexual practices and mental imbalance are more or less the same thing. If the connections were not clear enough, the script is happy to spell it out – the heroine’s sister warns her, “You play with danger – you get burned,” and her psychologist incredibly enough tells her: “You get consumed by that kind of thing and before you know it you are twisted into evil.” The film is hypocritical – it is sold in a way that makes its appeal wholly to its erotic content and the kinky suggestiveness of its title; yet it reviles the very eroticism it plays on, even calls it ‘evil’, a term that anybody in the psychiatric profession would assiduously avoid. There is something double-natured and twisted behind the thinking going on here. Indeed, there is something decidedly unhealthy in the way the film can follow one scene of erotica with another casually showing a slaughtered woman’s body.
Nor is Blindfold: Acts of Obsession particularly erotic – a scene with Shannen Doherty bound, blindfolded and being teased with ice cubes is a shameless copy of an identical one in 9½ Weeks. Shannen Doherty certainly gets topless, something that endeared Blindfold: Acts of Obsession to Celebrity Sleuth fans and their freeze-frame buttons, although many of the scenes are clearly being augmented with the use of a body double. The basic premise of the film – we are asked to believe that a psychologist would suggest getting into bondage as a means of propping up a failing marriage – is absurd, as is the film’s contortion of twisted pasts.
Shannen Doherty gives a passable performance. Much better is Kristian Alfonso as her sister who, while clearly cast as a standard beautiful blonde, also suggests a strong moral drive in her character. Judd Nelson plays the psychologist with a laughable bug-eyed intensity – it is extremely difficult to believe that anybody would willingly go to him with their problems.