October 19, 1990 at 04:00 AM EDT

The Hot Spot

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
R
runtime
130 minutes
performer
Jennifer Connelly, Don Johnson, Virginia Madsen, Jack Nance, William Sadler, Charles Martin Smith
director
Dennis Hopper
distributor
Orion Pictures
genre
Mystery and Thriller, Erotic
We gave it a B

In Blue Velvet, David Lynch took the stuff of steamy-trashy film-noir melodrama and transformed it into art. Dennis Hopper’s The Hot Spot turns it back into trash — and I don’t mean that as a put-down. The movie is Hopper’s attempt to make a vintage-’50s erotic thriller featuring such archetypal characters as the attractive stranger (Don Johnson) who wanders into town looking to rustle a quick buck; the hot-and-bothered blond (Virginia Madsen) who is sinful to the core (and therefore sexy as hell); the alluringly virginal good girl (Jennifer Connelly) who may not be so good after all; and assorted losers, hustlers, and redneck creeps. The film might have been a camp hoot if it weren’t for the fact that Hopper still believes in all this stuff — he likes his women molten, duplicitous, and in kinky high heels. Hopper still hasn’t learned how to pace a movie, but working from Charles Williams’ 1952 novel Hell Hath No Fury he comes up with a reasonably diverting hothouse yarn. The sex scenes, though, are too tame. Next time Hopper would do well to shoot for NC-17. B

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