Tainted Love (1995)

Rating:

USA. 1995.

Crew

Director/Story – Jag Mundhra, Screenplay – George Ferris & Matt Roe, Producers – Jag Mundhra & Victor Bhalla, Photography – Blain Brown, Music – Alan Dermarderosian, Makeup Effects – Melanie Robinett, Production Design – Brian McCabe. Production Company – Everest Pictures/Lynk Entertainment

Cast

Lee Anne Beaman (Detective Sara Baldwin), Doug Jeffery (Michael Madison), Granville Ames (Detective Phil Daley), Ken Steadman (Franz Ritter), Douglas Van Bebber (Captain Cosgrove), Nicole Gian (Pauline Vanderpol), Kelly Burns (Chantal Benteen), Cara Johnson (Chloe Lefkowitz), Stuart Warren (Jerry Molloy)


Plot

LAPD detective Sara Baldwin investigates a series of killings where women are found tied up naked in their beds having been strangled. A common link is found in that they are all models and belong to the same health club. Sara volunteers to go undercover at the health club but is turned down by her captain because she is too unfeminine. And so she undergoes a dazzling makeover. In the club, she soon gets a modelling job with photographer Franz Ritter. She also meets and is wooed by the handsome clothing designer Michael Madison. As she finds herself falling for Michael, her partner gathers evidence that makes Michael the chief suspect in the murders.


Tainted Love was one of a host of tawdry imitators that came out following the success of Basic Instinct (1992). These imitators were standard psycho-thrillers where the emphasis was now placed on heated on-screen sexuality. Tainted Love is only Basic Instinct with the sexes reversed – Lee Anne Beaman takes the Michael Douglas role as an investigating cop who becomes involved with Doug Jeffery who fills the Sharon Stone part as the handsome seducer who may also be responsible for a series of killings.

Director Jag Mundhra previously made the repellent slasher film Open House (1987). With Tainted Love, Mundhra is operating on a better budget and provides a film that is certainly more polished but one that is still no less repellent for all that. There is an extraordinary crassness to Mundhra’s direction at times – he is, for instance, capable of cutting from a person’s head hitting the pavement to a pool cue striking a ball. Not too surprisingly, Mundhra takes much opportunity to get the women in the show naked on a regular basis. More so than a psycho-thriller, Tainted Love is set up to show extended softcore sex scenes at semi-regular intervals. What makes it start to get nasty is when Mundhra shows slaughtered bodies with the same kind of eroticism that he shows people engaged in coupling. The very opening shot is a camera prowl through an apartment that slowly pans up a girl’s body, taking in her pussy, breasts and then her face before revealing that she is bound and dead. There is something quite nasty in the film’s invitation to us to erotically enjoy the body of a dead woman and clearly also a woman who has been bound against her will.

Tainted Love rarely works as a thriller – the plot is lax and not kept tightly wound enough. The killer’s identity was easy to guess, although at least Jag Mundhra rises above himself to conduct a suspenseful climactic fight between the killer and heroine, which is especially well scored. The most ludicrous part about the film is Lee Anne Beaman’s instant transformation from a butch masculine cop to giggly feminine, all with a haircut, a new set of clothes and some makeup. One might also note that when she does undress it appears she has at least been feminine enough to maintain a bikini line. Certainly, Doug Jeffery plays the smooth handsomeness of her male paramour with reasonable conviction.

Indian director Jag Mundhra mostly directs softcore erotic thrillers – his most well known film was Night Eyes (1990), which spawned a series of sequels. His others venture into horror were Hack-o-Lantern (1988) and Open House (1987). More recently, Mundhra had a mainstream hit with the serious dramatic film Provoked: A True Story (2006) about a Punjabi woman jailed for setting her abusive husband on fire.



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