One of the greatest joys for the video connoisseur is to catch some of the bald, B grade rip-offs of big mainstream successes – quickies that drain all artistic nuances from the original model and present an almost mathematical variation on its scenario.
If those viewers (and reviewers) who had moral qualms about Scorsese's Cape Fear (1991) were ever to see the telemovie Invasion of Privacy, they might certainly wonder what strange, sleazy circle of Hell they had just fallen into.
Like Robert De Niro, Robby Benson broods, rants and works out in jail as he waits for his imminent release – a dumb, savage animal from the gutter just dying to prey on the middle classes.
He hits the jackpot: not only does he get close to a famous, liberal journalist (Jennifer O'Neill), but also her kinky, French-accented daughter (Lydie Denier).
Like other well-known serial killers in movies, Benson is a voyeur with a video camera; and, fortunately for him, Denier (like the hapless hero of De Palma's Body Double ) is an acting student in a psychodrama class, open to every perversely erotic manipulation he can dream up.
If you're an aspiring scriptwriter who likes to practise screen craft by stopping a video every few minutes and trying to guess the next formulaic plot move in a contemporary genre, Invasion of Privacy is for you. Writer-director Kevin Meyer went on to make Perfect Alibi (1995) starring Teri Garr (and, once more, Denier).
It is also recommended for those aficionados of exploitation cinema who believe (as I do) that the least polished and refined movies are sometimes the most compelling.
© Adrian Martin June 1993