Review: ‘Sand Trap’

If it were any worse, it might qualify as self-parody. But "Sand Trap" is a goof, not a spoof, and it manages to be ludicrous while remaining essentially humorless. This sub-par erotic thriller is short on thrills and eroticism, and appears destined for a quick trip to vid-store shelves and latenight cable. Borrowing more than a few pages from "Inferno," the 1953 melodrama in which millionaire Robert Ryan is left to die in the desert by his wife and her lover, director and co-screenwriter Harris Done has fashioned a routine programmer in which everything is too obvious by half. Opening sequence has well-to-do Nelson (David John James) surprised by a masked intruder while enjoying some conjugal bliss with Margo (Elizabeth Morehead), his sexy wife. Just how frightened is Nelson? So frightened, he wets his pants. Jack (Brad Koepenick), Nelson's lawyer, offers to help his client recover from his traumatic experience. He invites Nelson to join him on a desert jaunt to check out a land-development opportunity. Not surprisingly, Jack also invites Margo along for the ride. Even less surprisingly, the whole thing is a setup: Jack pushes Nelson off a cliff, then joins Margo for a night of kinky lovemaking.

The next day, Margo and Jack bring the local sheriff (Bob Thompson) to the spot where Nelson “accidentally” fell. But there’s no body to be found. So Margo and Jack set out in search of Nelson, intending to finish what they started. The sheriff begins his own search, and finds just enough evidence to suspect foul play.

“Sand Trap” is predictable and formulaic, but that’s the least of its problems. Pic turns downright silly as Done belabors the obvious. Just to make sure the audience appreciates that Margo is an oversexed femme fatale, we get a scene in which she fellates Jack while he tries to drive his car over Nelson. Later, when Jack beats the bejeepers out of a local rowdy, Margo is so turned on by the violence that she practically rips off her clothes for a quick tussle in the sand.

Meanwhile, Nelson grows increasingly delirious as he wanders throughout the desert. When he happens upon the remains of a 1953 Pontiac sedan, he uses the tires, hubcaps and hood ornament to create a warrior costume for himself. After that, he’s ready to launch a counterattack on his pursuers. And the audience is ready to shout rude things at the screen.

Except for Thompson, who manages to maintain some semblance of dignity, the lead actors give performances as overstated as Done’s direction.

Production values are adequate, but that doesn’t help much.

Sand Trap

Production

A Marjan Street Entertainment and Looking Glass Films production. Produced by Erik Done, Harris Done, Jerry Rapp. Executive producers, Kevin S. Bogart, Garrett P. Kreditor. Co-producer, Linda Miller. Directed by Harris Done. Screenplay, Harris Done, Jerry Rapp.

Crew

Camera (Foto-Kem color), Roy Unger, Mark W. Gray; editor, Michael Mayhew; music, Bennett Salvay; production design, Naython Vane; art direction, Daniel Harrison Bornstein; costumes, Sevilla Granger; sound (Ultra Stereo), Patrick R. Rideux. Reviewed on videocassette, Houston, Oct. 16, 1997. (In Hollywood Film Festival.) Running time: 100 MIN.

With

Nelson ..... David John James Margo ..... Elizabeth Morehead Jack ..... Brad Koepenick Sheriff ..... Bob Thompson
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