×

Never Talk to Strangers

"Never Talk to Strangers" is a reasonably entertaining but largely uninspired erotic thriller that's too much a chip off the "Fatal Attraction" block. The promise of high-impact bedroom aerobics will generate some interest, but the fully clothed drama isn't nearly as enthralling as the steamy scenes, so the pic isn't likely to maintain much B.O. ardor.

With:
Dr. Sarah Taylor - Rebecca De Mornay Toni Ramirez - Antonio Banderas Cliff Raddison - Dennis Miller Henry Taylor - Len Cariou Max Cheski - Harry Dean Stanton Grogan - Beau Starr Wabash - Tim Kelleher Dudakoff - Eugene Lipinski Spatz - Phillip Jarrett

“Never Talk to Strangers” is a reasonably entertaining but largely uninspired erotic thriller that’s too much a chip off the “Fatal Attraction”-“Sea of Love” block. The promise of high-impact bedroom aerobics featuring sexy stars Rebecca De Mornay and Antonio Banderas will generate some interest, but the fully clothed drama isn’t nearly as enthralling as the steamy scenes, so the pic isn’t likely to maintain much B.O. ardor for long.

There are two especially titillating scenes in “Never Talk to Strangers,” including one that makes innovative use of a steel cage, and TriStar has trimmed some footage — apparently mostly of a naked Banderas — from the second heavy-duty sex bout in order to garner R rating Stateside.

The uncut, more explicit version is the one Alliance is releasing in Canada and will be seen in most other international territories. Scene in question isn’t even that ribald and would be unlikely to raise eyebrows in the U.S. Running time is reportedly the same in both versions, as replacement footage was inserted in the U.S. cut.

Yarn rolls with cool criminal psychiatrist Dr. Sarah Taylor (De Mornay) interviewing angry accused serial killer Max Cheski (Harry Dean Stanton). In a development right out of “Sea of Love,” Taylor bumps into mysterious-but-attractive stranger Toni Ramirez (Banderas) in the supermarket wine aisle. Before you can say Cabernet Sauvignon, the shy, distrustful shrink is off tasting wine at the suitably spooky loft of the self-described “surveillance consultant.”

Already fairly paranoid — thanks to her explosive chats with Cheski — and wary of her enigmatic new lover, she feels her anxiety spill over during an almost violent argument with Ramirez.

She takes off after the blowup, but the confrontation also sparks some new desires within the ultra-controlled Taylor. She returns to his pad, slaps his face and initiates the hottest encounter of the pic. His bed is surrounded by a wire cagelike structure, which plays a central role in the sex play.

Then comes the dead-pet twist — the cadaver of Taylor’s cat is delivered to her apartment. It’s the final straw for the near-hysterical shrink, who hires a private investigator to tail Ramirez. Turns out that lover boy has lied about a trip to Boston, having flown instead to Taylor’s hometown of Albany, N.Y., to look up info on her, then to New York City to meet what looks to be his wife and child.

After Taylor’s upstairs neighbor Cliff (Dennis Miller) gets clobbered with a lead pipe in the alley behind their apartment building, the identity of the stalker is revealed in a surprise ending that will severely stretch the credulity of most viewers.

De Mornay gives an intense, affecting perf as the repressed psychiatrist, and De Mornay and Banderas provide further evidence that they’re not lacking in the bigscreen sex-appeal department. But Banderas has less to work with as Ramirez, a character saddled with far too many Latin-lover cliches. Stanton is perfect as the smart-but-demented serial killer and Miller, as always, is droll as the somewhat befuddled neighbor who has the hots for Taylor.

Peter Hall does an efficient job moving the story along and manages to temper the thriller plotting with some in-depth drama. But there is little here to evoke Hall’s acclaimed theater work, and lack of sparkle is due in part to a script by Lewis Green and Jordan Rush that’s simply not very original.

Production designers Linda Del Rosario and Richard Paris set an effective tone with Ramirez’s bizarre, enticing love nest of a loft, and Elemer Ragalyi’s mostly nocturnal lensing helps sustain that edgy mood.

Popular on Variety

Never Talk to Strangers

Production: A TriStar release of an Alliance Communications Corp. and Peter Hoffman presentation of an Alliance production. Produced by Andras Hamori, Jeffrey R. Neuman, Martin J. Wiley. Executive producer, Rebecca De Mornay. Co-producer, Jean Desormeaux, Ralph S. Dietrich. Directed by Peter Hall. Screenplay, Lewis Green, Jordan Rush.

Crew: Camera (Deluxe color), Elemer Ragalyi; editor, Roberto Silvi; music, Pino Donaggio; production design, Linda Del Rosario, Richard Paris; set decoration, Richard Paris; costume design, Terry Dresbach; sound (Dolby SR), Chaim Gilad; assistant director, Myron Hoffert; associate producers, Silvi, Tom Willey; casting, Jon Comerford. Reviewed at the Faubourg Cinema, Montreal, Oct. 20, 1995. MPAA Rating: R. Running time: 86 MIN.

With: Dr. Sarah Taylor - Rebecca De Mornay Toni Ramirez - Antonio Banderas Cliff Raddison - Dennis Miller Henry Taylor - Len Cariou Max Cheski - Harry Dean Stanton Grogan - Beau Starr Wabash - Tim Kelleher Dudakoff - Eugene Lipinski Spatz - Phillip Jarrett

More Film

  • German Cinema Is Diverse, But Is

    German Cinema Is Varied, But Is It Too Risk Averse?

    One of the strengths of German cinema is its diversity, says Simone Baumann, managing director of the national film promotion agency German Films. As well as the three films at Toronto directed by female German helmers, there was also German filmmaker Thomas Heise’s documentary film essay “Heimat Is a Space in Time.” Then there were [...]

  • Female Filmmakers in Germany Make Progress

    Female Filmmakers Surge Forward in Germany, But Still Face Obstacles

    Four feature films by German filmmakers screened at the Toronto Film Festival, and three of them were directed by women – Angela Schanelec’s “I Was at Home, But…,” winner of the Berlinale’s best director prize, Ina Weisse’s “The Audition,” and Katrin Gebbe’s “Pelican Blood,” the latter two both starring Nina Hoss. Germany’s Oscar entry this [...]

  • Bull

    Annie Silverstein's 'Bull' Takes Top Awards, Robert Pattinson Starrer 'The Lighthouse' Wins Jury Prize at Deauville

    Annie Silverstein’s feature debut “Bull” swept three awards at the 45th Deauville American Film Festival, including the Grand Prize, the Revelation Prize for best first film and the Critics’ Prize. “Bull,” a portrait of a rebellious teenage girl from South Texas, world premiered at Cannes’s Un Certain Regard and marks Silverstein’s follow up to her [...]

  • Constance Wu and Jennifer Lopez star

    Jennifer Lopez's 'Criminal' Striptease: How 'Hustlers' Landed the Fiona Apple Hit

    Contrary to what you might be expecting, the number of songs by Jennifer Lopez, Lizzo and Cardi B in “Hustlers,” their newly released acting vehicle, adds up to … zero. Meanwhile, the standout music sync in a movie that’s full of them belongs to no less likely a choice than Fiona Apple. The scene in [...]

  • Game of Thrones Season 8

    'Game of Thrones,' 'Avengers' Win Big at 45th Annual Saturn Awards

    As Jamie Lee Curtis picked up her first trophy ever at the 45th Annual Saturn Awards Friday night, she had a good luck charm on her arm: former manager Chuck Binder, whom she said was the reason she became an actor. “I was in college and had no thought of being an actor,” Curtis told [...]

  • Jennifer Lopez and Constance Wu star

    Box Office: 'Hustlers' Dances Toward $32 Million Opening Weekend

    “Hustlers” is eyeing the biggest opening weekend ever for STXFilms, following a Friday domestic ticket haul of $13.1 million from 3,250 theaters. If estimates hold, the stripper saga could take home around $32 million come Sunday, marking the best live-action opening of Jennifer Lopez’s career. “Hustlers” follows a group of former strip club dancers, led [...]

  • Hustlers intimacy coordinator

    Meet the Stripper Consultant Who Gave 'Hustlers' Authenticity, Dignity and Sexual Freedom

    At last week’s Toronto Film Festival premiere of “Hustlers,” an audience of Hollywood heavyweights and Canadian locals applauded as a statuesque woman strutted on stage, rocking six-inch platform heels and a pastel tie-dye bodysuit. This adoration was not for stars Jennifer Lopez, Constance Wu or Keke Palmer, nor was it for the film’s acclaimed writer-director [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content