The Hot Spot

Director Dennis Hopper just won't say no to kinky amorality, and that's all to the good in this twisting, languorous and very sexy thriller [based on Charles Williams' novel Hell Hath No Fury].

Director Dennis Hopper just won’t say no to kinky amorality, and that’s all to the good in this twisting, languorous and very sexy thriller [based on Charles Williams’ novel Hell Hath No Fury].

Hopper elicits a sharp, understated performance from Miami Vice star Don Johnson, who’s neither a cop nor a good guy here. As the low-key, manipulative drifter Harry Madox, Johnson shakes things up in a godforsaken Texas town, where his job at a used car lot involves him with two restless women yearning to beat the heat.

Gloria Harper (Jennifer Connelly) is the sweetly stunning office girl; Dolly Harshaw (Virginia Madsen) is the irresistibly tempting boss’ wife. This is the type of town, says Madsen, where there are ‘only two things to do’, and one of them is watching TV. Johnson charts a sexual collision course with both women. But he has another agenda. Once he’s insinuated himself into the town, Johnson aims to con the yokels.

Hopper clearly was impressed by what he learned from working with David Lynch on Blue Velvet. The Hot Spot seeps with atmosphere, unfolds at a deceptively relaxed pace, steadily accumulates noirish grit, then dizzily plunges into a Lynch-like plumbing of the dark passions and nasty secrets at the heart of Main Street, USA.

The Hot Spot

  • Production: Orion. Dir Dennis Hopper; Producer Paul Lewis, Deborah Capograsso; Screenplay Nona Tyson, Charles Williams; Camera Ueli Steiger; Editor Wende Pheiffer Mate; Music Jack Nitzsche Art Dir Cary White
  • Crew: (Color) Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1990. Running time: 120 MIN.
  • With: Don Johnson Virginia Madsen Jennifer Connelly Charles Martin Smith William Sadler Barry Corbin