aka Last Cry
Director – Robert Angelo, Screenplay – Ed Silverstein, Producer – Marc Lawrence, Cinematography – David Trulli, Music – Michael Vista, Production Design – Scott Campbell. Production Company – Magic Hour Pictures/MRG Entertainment
Angie Everhart (Beth Spinella), Richard Grieco (J.C. Gale), Kevin Fry (Joe), Elizabeth Barondes (Caroline), Julian Christopher (Carl Taylor), Ray Valenti (Maya Garcia), Roy Abrahamson (Detective Richard Stein), Paul Oliver (Tyrone Deems), McKayla (Liza)
J.C. Gale, a photographer who specialises in provocative erotic works, is charged with the murder of a woman who died during an act of erotic asphyxiation. He is found guilty but has the sentence reduced to manslaughter and is given five years’ probation. Beth Spinella, a specialist in sexual offenders, is assigned as Gale’s case officer and determines to create a sexual profile of him. Instead, Gale starts to draw Beth into a web of erotic adventure and succeeds in seducing her. At the same time, someone starts stalking Beth and kills her cat and then one of Gale’s models. Beth’s boyfriend Joe is insistent that Gale is the killer. However, Beth does not want to lose her job by revealing that she is sleeping with Gale.
Sexual Predator/Last Cry is a made-for-cable erotic thriller, a genre that took on considerable life during the late 1990s/early 2000s. Cable erotica tended to be much more softcore than porn, featuring toplessness and occasional (female) bottomlessness, but rarely any male genitalia and certainly no penetration shots. Cable erotica (generally) has more in the way of plots than porn and casts actors and actresses that can for the most part act rather than just take their clothes off. Many of these films have a surprising degree of sophistication. Sexual Predator is one such case.
Sexual Predator comes from Robert Angelo, a director who has specialised in these softcore erotic films. Indeed, Robert Angelo has made several other ventures into the erotic psycho-thriller with Mutual Needs (1997), Forbidden Sins (1998), which has a plot very similar to this where D.A. Shannon Tweed becomes involved with a murder suspect, and Dead Sexy (2001). In the first few minutes, Sexual Predator seems to be shaping up in decidedly bad taste with an opening scene that shows a naked woman being erotically asphyxiated and her strangled gasps being wound in with her orgasm. Things become even more dubious when the plot is revealed as one that is taking place between a man who has been listed as a sexual offender on a court-mandated treatment program and his probation officer. Later there is even an incest horror story that is used as prelude to a make-out session. All of which seems territory of very dubious taste for an erotic film to be entering into.
Despite this, Sexual Predator proves to be a surprisingly good film. It is slickly made and well photographed. It also expends a good deal of time on its plot – quite a rarity for these cable erotica films. Indeed, Sexual Predator holds the measure of a good work of erotica in that you could take out the sex scenes and the plot would be good enough to stand on its own, yet at the same time one could not take the sex scenes out as they are crucial to the overall plot. Angie Everhart is not too bad in the role of the probation officer, starting out as convincingly prim and businesslike before we see her slowly being tempted by what is erotically on offer. Pretty boy tv star Richard Grieco is equally well suited to his role. Previously, Grieco had seemed a bad actor who has gotten by solely on his looks – here the film casts Grieco into his looks and adds an undertow of dark ambiguity that proves rather fascinating. Both characters are crafted with a degree of complexity that is rare to be found in these erotic films.
Robert Angelo directs the scenes where Richard Grieco seduces Angie Everhart with a considerable degree of eroticism – his photographing of her in his studio, taking her to a sex club and slowly stroking her, and then the scene where he comes to her office, blindfolds her and then takes her home and undresses her in closeup. (The eroticism of these scenes is slightly ruined by the fact that we do not see Richard Grieco and Angie Everhart together in naked body contact and they are clearly being substituted for by body doubles in some scenes).
There are odd moments that do not seem convincing – that a probation officer would be allowed to take the case of a man who was charged with killing her best friend where in normal circumstances she would be required to recuse herself. [PLOT SPOILERS]. What makes Sexual Predator work is the kicker of a twist ending that reveals the killer is none of the people that the script has lead us to believe as suspects. The tweaker that the script does here in twisting us around the point-of-view character before pulling the carpet out from under us is absolutely excellent.