(director: Ken Russell; screenwriter: Barry Sandler; cinematographer: Dick Bush; editor: Brian Tagg; music: Rick Wakeman; cast: Kathleen Turner (Joanna Crane/China Blue), John Laughlin (Bobby Grady), Anthony Perkins (Peter Shayne), Annie Potts (Amy Grady), Bruce Davison (Donny Hopper); Runtime: 102; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Barry Sandler; Anchor Bay; 1984)

“It plays out as a cheesy and shrill satire on America’s sexual mores.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Ken Russell (“Whore”/Mahler”/”Tommy”) directs this dismal, over the top, erotic thriller that’s inanely written by producer Barry Sandler; it’s played for shock value. It plays out as a cheesy and shrill satire on America’s sexual mores, with its melodramatics seemingly dated, staged and artificial.

China Blue (Kathleen Turner) is a high-priced prostitute in the red light district at night who specializes in play acting with her tricks. During the daytime she uses her real name of Joanna Crane and works a legit job as a hard-working no-nonsense fashion designer (sleep or reality doesn’t seem to enter into the equation!). Bobby Grady (John Laughlin) is a jokester suburbanite, married to Amy (Annie Potts) for the last 12 years and has two children. His marriage is on the rocks due to his wife’s refusal to enjoy sex, her bluffing of orgasms and showing him no affection. Bobby moonlights from his electrical store job to be a private investigator for a sportswear manufacturer who suspects his designer Joanna Crane of pirating his designs. It turns out another worker is guilty of the thefts, but the Boy Scout snoop plucks down $50 to do a trick with China Blue and gets the bang of his life. His marriage breaks up and he hooks up with China Blue, which seemed about as real as hanging out with Santa Claus. In the meantime China Blue has to contend with psychopathic weirdo client Peter Shayne (Anthony Perkins), a serial killer in the making, who revisits his Psycho role but this time as a twisted fanatical fundamentalist street corner reverend who has this thing about saving China Blue’s life so his life could be saved.

Nothing works here. It’s an hysterical mess that walks a line between being a thriller, soft core porn, comedy and psycho-sexual drama. In the end, it shows off a group marriage counseling session and after being stupid for most of the film demands to be taken seriously as it offers ridiculous marriage guidance counseling that comes out of those sessions—promoting that marriage is all about sex. How this farce was supposed to spoof American sexual fantasies never registered with me.