December 30, 1994 at 05:00 AM EST

”When people say Hollywood is disconnected from its audience, I think it’s true,” says John Dahl, whose connections with Hollywood have been anything but smooth. Two years ago, Columbia TriStar deemed his Nicolas Cage thriller Red Rock West unreleasable. But in 1994, Dahl’s twisted neo-noir crime stories caught on: Rescued from late-night airings on HBO (where it was shown after bypassing the big screen), Red Rock got a theatrical release, drew raves, and grossed a respectable $2.1 million. Now audiences are lining up to see another HBO escapee, The Last Seduction, with Linda Fiorentino as an ultra-bitchy con woman. ”Unfortunately, when a movie goes straight to cable, there’s a big cloud hanging over it,” says Dahl. But the only cloud over his movies comes from his vision of relationships built on greed and lust. These days Hollywood is impressed and contrite — Fox and Savoy both want him to bring his scary touch to upcoming thrillers.

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