The Seduction (1982) poster

The Seduction (1982)


USA. 1982.


Director/Screenplay – David Schmoeller, Producers – Bruce Cohn Curtis & Irwin Yablans, Photography – Mac Ahlberg, Music – Lalo Schifrin. Production Company – Romantic Venture/Avco Embassy.


Morgan Fairchild (Jamie Douglas), Andrew Stevens (Derek), Michael Sarrazin (Brandon), Colleen Camp (Robin), Vince Edwards (Maxwell)


Television newscaster Jamie Douglas is stalked by Derek, a young photographer who lives next door to her. Derek has developed a crush on her and insists on photographing her about her house, calling her and sending her presents. When Jamie rejects his advances, Derek becomes mentally unstable and tries to force his attentions on her.

The Seduction was one of a host of upmarket films that suddenly jumped on the slasher trend of the early 1980s. The film’s theme of voyeurism and a tv newscaster being pursued by a male stalker was suddenly milked by several films all in the space of about a year, including also Eyes of a Stranger (1981) and Visiting Hours (1982), which this has many similarities to. Although all of these take their inspiration from the earlier John Carpenter tv movie Someone’s Watching Me (1978).

The Seduction is a terrible film though. Everything is shot with a glossy unreality as though it were taking place inside the world of a tv commercial. The makes the film look like a crossbreed between the torrid melodramatics of a daytime soap opera and a slasher film. It is the absurdly tackiness of the melodrama that makes The Seduction such a spectacularly bad film – in particular, the hysterically torrid murder of Michael Sarrazin (during a jacuzzi love embrace with Morgan Fairchild) and the subsequent scenes where she engages in the titular seduction to lure Andrew Stevens to her and kill him.

Everybody gives bad performances. The worst of these is Morgan Fairchild, a no-talent actress who became famous during the early 1980s without ever appearing in anything other than a handful of tv episodes. [She is mostly remembered these days for her subsequent appearance as a regular on the primetime soap Falcon Crest (1981-90)]. All she seems to do in the film is parade her glamour and remotely frosty desirability before us. She spends the entire film preening about, tossing her Farrah Fawcett hairdo as though she were posing for a fashion shoot. Indeed, Fairchild spends so much time in baths in sequences that drag on and on that one thinks she might be better off auditioning for the life story of Esther Williams.

Morgan Fairchild as stalked newsreader Jamie Douglas in The Seduction (1982)
Morgan Fairchild as stalked newsreader Jamie Douglas

There is also an extraordinary hypocrisy to the film. It is in large part set up around a prurient appealing to the same voyeuristic desires in its audience that it condemns in Andrew Stevens’ character on screen. Much time is spent languishing over the naked or near-naked body of Morgan Fairchild and a large part of the appeal the film has is set up around seeing this – the film is, for example, entitled The Seduction, which suggests eroticism, rather than the more accurate The Stalking. Yet far more so than any Friday the 13th (1980) sequel or copy, the film seems to act as an exercise in narcissism centered around Morgan Fairchild, where she is held on a pedestal of unattainable desirability and both we and the character in the film are made to feel squalid for the very desire the film has aroused in us.

Subsequently, director David Schmoeller went onto make a number of B-budget horror films for producer Charles Band. This seemed an area that Schmoeller was far more at home working in and most of these films are better than this A-budget atrocity. These include the very strange Tourist Trap (1979) about a backwoods motelier and his living mannequins, the psycho film Crawlspace (1986), Catacombs (1988), Puppetmaster (1989) – the first in the popular video series, the alien vampire film The Arrival (1991), the very strange the voodoo film Netherworld (1992) and the children’s films The Secret Kingdom (1997), Search for the Jewel of Polaris: The Mysterious Museum (1999) and Little Monsters (2012). A young Frank Darabont, later director of The Shawshank Redemption (1994), The Green Mile (1999) and The Mist (2007), appears on the credits as ‘transportation captain’.

Trailer here

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