Dec 22, 2019

Fatal Exposure (1989)

Yet another entry into the ridiculously common "killer photographer" genre.  If you're keeping score of how many times we've come across this so far, see below for the tally. While the video box seems to indicate this is an erotic thriller, it more falls under the slasher genre, featuring a descendant of Jack the Ripper who keeps knocking off locals in a small country town.

 Marybeth (Julie Austin) and Jay (Dan Schmale) are parked out in the woods.

 Jay gets his wish, and the two start having sex in the front seat. 

 But there's a killer lurking nearby, and he's carrying an ice pick.

 Marybeth hears something outside and asks Jay to investigate.

 Jay, as you might expect, gets an ice pick through the face.

 Marybeth runs topless through the forest.  Actress Julie Austin played the main character, Kirsten, in Elves from this same year.  She's topless for a really long time in this film- I'm a bit surprised, after seeing her in Elves, at the amount of nudity she delivers.

 A surprisingly brutal and realistic kill - as the slasher rams his ice pick through her mouth!

And she doesn't die immediately.  She crawls around on the forest floor, gurgling and choking from the ice pick embedded into her face.  Holy shit.

 Maggie (Renée Cline) and Jeff (Gary Wise) are a couple Southern Baptists who are paying a visit to a photographer who's just moved into town.  They want to invite him to the church social and worship service.

 When Maggie doesn't get a response from knocking on the door, she peeks through a window and sees this horrifying sight - a man wielding a hammer above a woman's head.

 Maggie runs into the car, but Jack, the photographer, runs after her. He explains that what she saw was just a setup for a photography piece.  It wasn't real.

 Jeff and Maggie are invited into his home and enjoy some coffee.  Having lived in the deep south, I can attest that their portrayal as the Bible thumping welcome wagon, is pretty damn accurate.

Jack (Blake Bahner) asks them if they'd be interested in having a little fun and posing for some of his photographs.

 Jeff stupidly agrees to allow himself to be put in the stockade and Jack promptly cuts his fucking head off!

Jack convinces Maggie to put on a costume, so she missed sight of her husband's head being chopped off.  Actress Renée Cline was a true southerner, with a very authentic and pronounced accent. She was in a number of action films all in 1990: The Final Sanction , Lock 'n' Load, Future Zone and Invasion Force, and then sort of disappeared from IMDb.

 Maggie returns from the dressing room wearing a risque outfit - quite alarming for the Southern Baptist goodie-two-shoes.

 She's evidently as stupid as her husband, because she allows herself to be tied up.  Okay there's no way a church going Southern Baptist is going to allow herself to get photographed like this, bringing scandal upon her reputation.  But I'll go along with it.

 Jack then injects her with some kind of acidic substance.

 The substance causes her skin to bubble up and bleed.  Totally gross - and wonderful practical gore effects!

 God I miss practical effects.

 Maggie dies and Jack talks directly to the camera, informing us that he's the great-grandson of Jack the Ripper.

He's able to stay young by drinking the blood of his victims.  Okay, so now is as good a time as any to keep score on our killer photographer films.  Add this to the list.

Delirium (1987)Dark Room (1989)Whirlpool (1970)Fatal Images (1989)Blood Harvest (1987)Click the Calendar Girl Killer (1990)The Photographer (1974)Bizarre Lust of Sexual Deviant (2001)Double Exposure (1983)The Hollywood Strangler Meets the Skid Row Slasher (1979)Murder-Set-Pieces (2004) and Screaming Dead (2003).

 Sheriff Stone (Marc Griggs) comes by to introduce himself to Jack T. Rippington (yes that's the name he's actually going by).  Jack inexplicably offers him some of the victim's blood to drink.

Jack meets a couple girls in the cemetery: hot Erica (Ena Henderson) and her ugly friend Gretchen (Joy Ovington).

Erica is here looking for ghosts - she believes she can see them in mirrors.  Ena Henderson was only in a few movies; surprising because she is drop dead gorgeous.  She starred in Molly and the Ghost (1991), a film I've been trying unsuccessfully to get my hands on for a while.

Like seemingly every yokel in this town, she agrees to pose for Jack - wearing handcuffs!  Jack notices that she bears a striking resemblance to his great-grandmother.

Jack has a habit of asking three questions before killing his victims; and Erica answers all three to his liking.

So, they have sex.

Erica's friend starts poking her nose around, making Jack a little antsy. So, he chloroforms her.

When Gretchen wakes up, she's strapped to a table. Hey, Gretchen suddenly isn't homely looking after all!  This is Joy Ovington's only film credit.

Jack breaks out the circular saw and cuts up poor Gretchen.

I suppose the budget wasn't enough to actually show her get cut up, but they still manage to provide some gnarly gore.

 Eric gets dressed up to go to a modeling agency and bring Jack models.

 Candice (Susan Welch), his model, agrees to hold battery cables.  Probably a bad idea.

 More over-the-top gore as Candice is electrocuted.

 Jack and Erica continue their relationship - and she gets pregnant.

 In the doctor's waiting room, Erica sees an alarming news story.

 Candice, the girl she recruited from the agency, ahs turned up dead.

 Jack consoles Erica, telling her there's nothing to worry about.

 But literally on the other side of the door is another dead model hanging by a hook.  A nice touch.

 The dead girl with her boobs out is played by Beth Cotton in her only IMDb credit.

 Next, Jack kills Sheriff Stone - and Erica walks in on it.

 Jack puts her in a choke hold and knocks her out.  He then puts her in a storage closet.

 Erica has a nightmare where she takes a bath and is murdered by Jack.

 Erica wakes up from her nightmare and realizes she has to get the hell outta here.  

 She actually has a pretty good plan.  She pretends to hang herself; when Jack comes running, she stabs him.

 Their battle rages throughout the house, until she finally plunges a needle of that acidic solution into his neck, and he just melts.

 But Erica isn't her old self anymore. 

She's now the killer photographer - continuing Jack the Ripper's murderous tradition, and carrying his great-great-grandchild.

This was surprisingly great.  A primary critique might be that it's never actually scary. Halloween and Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm St., etc. managed to provide real scares, whereas this was a bit cheesy - almost to the point of parody. That being said, it was a ton-o-fun, with never a dull moment.

It just never backed off the gore and the sleaze, with some genuinely macabre moments.  If it had played it safe, it wouldn't have been near as good - it's strength was in the fact that it just didn't give a fuck.  Ena Henderson was amazing, and the first two kills (the couple in the woods and the Baptist couple) were dynamite. A hidden gem.

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