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MOVIE REVIEW : The Despair of the Rich and Famous Is 'Overexposed'

May 14, 1990|MICHAEL WILMINGTON

In "Overexposed," (selected theaters), a super-derivative, very minor slasher thriller from the Roger Corman Concorde factory, we meet comely soap opera star Kristen (Catherine Oxenberg), bedeviled by weirdo fans who stalk her and, apparently, an anonymous maniac somehow connected with the dim traumas of her Port Arthur childhood. Her co-stars die or disappear mysteriously, their faces melted into bloody latex globs. Her live-in boyfriend (David Naughton) is something of a shmo . Crazed couch potatoes (Karen Black, no less) harass her at the studio gate.

What a life! "Overexposed" is one more movie thriller that invites us to commiserate with the despair of the rich or glamorous, walled up in their beachside bungalows, unable to live normally, weighed down by all that money, fame and sex, terrorized by crazed "others" trying to get at them.

As a thriller, "Overexposed" is underdone. There are slow-mo shocker flashbacks that don't shock, a mystery that doesn't really mystify, the usual wisecracking cops and creepy music oozing up whenever night falls. There's also a "surprise" climax that breaks down due to makeup problems.

But, as a sexy drama-comedy, the movie has some potential--mostly dribbled away, but enough to give the makers some encouragement. Director co-writer Larry Brand, who has an active camera, also occasionally shows a brisk, irreverent take on TV production and a good sense of how to fill out a scene with offbeat character touches. The actors are pretty relaxed--so much so that Naughton's stiffness comes across as a personality bit.

It's all to little purpose. Brand and co-writer Rebecca Reynolds get trapped and chewed up in the generic slasher conventions just as their heroine is chopped up in the daytime TV mill. The problem with being a "B" movie like "Overexposed" (MPAA rated: R, for sex, violence, language and nudity) in an age when many of the "A" movies are trying ineptly to sound like the old "B's," is that, sooner or later, quality completely bottoms out. Corman should know this better than anyone. It's probably impossible to make a good movie about a soap opera star terrorized by a maniac who leaves nasty notes and melts off people's faces. And, even if it were possible, why try?

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