Strangers (1990)


Australia. 1990.


Director – Craig Lahiff, Screenplay – John Emery, Story – John Emery & Craig Lahiff, Additional Dialogue – Bob Ellis, Producers – Craig Lahiff & Wayne Groom, Photography – Steve Arnold, Music – Frank Strangio, Special Effects – Anifex Pty Ltd, Production Design – Derek Mills. Production Company – Genesis Films


James Healey (Gary Young), Anne Looby (Anna King), Melissa Docker (Rebecca), Tim Robertson (Mr King), Mary Regan (Joanne), Paul Mason (Detective-Sergeant Wilson), John Clayton (Agent)


Stockbroker Gary Young meets Anna King on a plane flight but afterwards find they have each accidentally taken the other’s briefcase. They meet to swap back and end up having a night of hot sex in his hotel room. However, Anna is mentally unbalanced and afterwards becomes fixated on Gary, telling her father that she is going to marry him. However, Gary is engaged and is insistent that it was only a one-night stand. Now Anna comes, killing those she sees as being in the way of her and Gary being together.

This Australian thriller is a shameless ripoff of Fatal Attraction (1987). The basic story of Fatal Attraction is rehashed. Strangers does a routine job of doing so but little more than that – the trail of clues the police follow in tracing James Healey is very specious at times. This also falls on generic thriller cliche plotting, such as the pieces about having murders pinned on the straying male hero, and the business of the missing ring. The film’s one single moment of camp imagination is a scene when it appears that Anne Looby might actually cut a wedding ring off Melissa Docker’s fingers with a pair of garden shears – although the film lacks what it takes to go all the way with such a scene.

Fatal Attraction was condemned for its underlying extremes, particularly its perceived backlash against the post-feminist woman. Strangers is perhaps notable for taking that backlash even further – the hero of the piece is not only ‘forgiven’ for straying but he is also given an ex-wife who is a lesbian who is screwing him over. The sex scenes are hot, although female psycho Anne Looby is quite unattractive. (On the plus side, hero James Healey is a whole lot more handsome than Michael Douglas was). What cannot be denied is that Anne Looby comes across with a more than effective glacial chill when she turns psycho.

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