Lake Consequence

(Rafael Eisenman, USA, 1992)


In any discussion of home video's prize auteurs, we must tip our hats to writer-producer-director Zalman King.

Beginning as an actor in the '70s in films including The Ski Bum (1971) and James B. Harris's Some Call It Loving (1973), King's big breakthrough happened years later when he produced and co-wrote Adrian Lyne's Nine and a Half Weeks (1986).

Seizing upon this genre of glossy erotica, King then directed a string of films written with his wife and collaborator Patricia Louisiana Knop, such as Two-Moon Junction (1988) and Wild Orchid (1990).

I may be the only critic on this planet who finds value in King's films, but I can't help it: his knack of combining perennially trashy plot lines with an extremely lively and flashy visual style is uniquely compelling.

Since the start of the '90s, King has been making quality erotic dramas for American cable TV. It is from this source that Lake Consequence derives.

Although the direction is handled by Rafael Eisenman, the film is utterly in the ZK house style. As always, the subject is female desire: a bored and troubled middle-class housewife (Joan Severance) finds herself straying into the seething, eroticised world of the handsome, proletarian hunk (Billy Zane) felling trees in her front yard.

King's messages are typically contradictory: he wholeheartedly endorses the heroine's transgressive self-discovery, but also includes a spirited defense of hearth and home.

The film is a veritable feast of crazy sights and sounds in desperate search of an elusive, erotic effect. For King, no lovemaking scene is complete without elaborate, metaphoric cutaways – to buzzsaws, acupuncture needles, jungle drums, you name it. The plot is eager to dive into the murkiest depths of psychodrama, with many flashbacks to the heroine's enigmatic primal trauma.

And finally there is the '90s icon of the video store, Billy Zane – who, in a climactic sequence, mysteriously chants "Hi honey, catch any fish?" at least one hundred times.

MORE King: In God's Hands

© Adrian Martin June 1994

Film Critic: Adrian Martin
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