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Wild Orchid II: Two Shades of Blue

A sequel in name only to the Mickey Rourke-starrer "Wild Orchid," Zalman King's pretentious exercise in softcore erotica is hot stuff only for the pay-cable and homevid markets.

Blue - Nina Siemaszko
Elle - Wendy Hughes
Ham - Tom Skerritt
Sully - Robert Davi
Josh - Brent Fraser
Dixon - Christopher McDonald
Mona - Liane Curtis
Jules - Joe Dallesandro
Col. Winslow - Stafford Morgan

A sequel in name only to the Mickey Rourke-starrer “Wild Orchid,” Zalman King’s pretentious exercise in softcore erotica is hot stuff only for the pay-cable and homevid markets.

Filmed as “Blue Movie Blue” and on the shelf since last fall, pic already has been followed by a third “Wild Orchid” feature, “Red Shoe Diaries,” which debuts on Showtime almost simultaneously with the theatrical release of “Blue.”

All three films have in common the focus on a beautiful young woman’s rites of passage.

This time, petite Nina Siemaszko portrays Blue, a California teenager who’s orphaned in 1958 when her heroin-addicted jazz trumpeter dad (Tom Skerritt) dies in a freak car accident.

She’s taken under the wing of brothel madam Wendy Hughes and introduced to a life of prostitution.

Her sexual deflowering has already occurred, at the hands of sleazy jazz club owner Joe Dallesandro.

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There’s a certain amount of interest generated in Blue’s fate as King’s slowly paced melodrama unfolds, but Siemaszko’s zombie-like performance denies the put-upon character much sympathy. Artsy photography is very distracting, as are several musicvideo-styled interludes.

Pic’s original title stems from a key plot point, as Siemaszko is coerced into appearing in an unfinished stag film, or blue movie.

Extremely disappointing finale has not one but two white knights appearing to save her: platonic lover Robert Davi and all-American boy Brent Fraser.

King evidently intends this as a storybook fantasy but destroys all credibility with such lame devices.

Siemaszko bares an extremely alluring figure that counts more than her acting ability this time out. She’s briefly upstaged by Canadian thesp Lydie Denier as the loveliest of the brothel girls.

Aussie actress Wendy Hughes adopts a neutral accent and severe manner in the villainess assignment.

One can infer she’s a lesbian doting on Blue, but King plays down numerous opportunities to make this subplot explicit.

Rest of cast is stuck with stereotyped roles, resulting in overplaying by Dallesandro as the lech, Davi as the brooding Hughes henchman who turns over a new leaf and Christopher McDonald as an evil senator.

Fraser is forced to gush unconvincingly as the handsome rich kid who has his first sexual experience with Blue at the cathouse but doesn’t recognize her before or after without her Louise Brooks-styled wig.

Picture is technically well-made. As with King’s Sherilyn Fenn-starrer “Two Moon Junction,” there is plenty of camp potential here (e.g., prostitute Blue going back to school as just another bobby-soxer), but it remains stillborn under King’s ponderous, self-important direction.

Wild Orchid II: Two Shades of Blue

Production: A Triumph Films release of a Vision Intl. presentation of a Saunders/King production. Produced by David Saunders, Rafael Eisenman. Executive producer, Mark Damon. Directed, written by Zalman King.

Crew: Camera (Foto-Kem color), Mark Reshovsky; editors, Marc Grossman, James Gavin; music, George S. Clinton; production design, Richard Amend; sound (Ultra-Stereo), Stephen Halbert; associate producer, Steve Kaminsky; assistant director, Roger La Page; additional camera, David Rudd, Peter Lyons Collister; casting, Ferne Cassel. Reviewed at Sony screening room, N.Y., April 16, 1992. MPAA Rating: R. Running time: 107 min.

With: Blue - Nina Siemaszko
Elle - Wendy Hughes
Ham - Tom Skerritt
Sully - Robert Davi
Josh - Brent Fraser
Dixon - Christopher McDonald
Mona - Liane Curtis
Jules - Joe Dallesandro
Col. Winslow - Stafford Morgan
With: Bridgit Ryan, Lydie Denier, Gloria Rueben, Victoria Mahoney.

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