Sexual Response (1992): Edging with Ashok and Shannon

Matty’s left unsatisfied by a Shannon Tweed erotic thriller that’s all build up, no release.

After hitting paydirt with the epoch-making Night Eyes (1990), former tennis pro-cum-B-movie mogul Ashok Amritraj went on to produce a raft straight-to-video erotic dramas and thrillers, riding the genre’s wave deep into the ‘90s and shepherding such saucy standouts as: the three Night Eyes sequels; Last Call (1991) and Legal Tender (1992) from Night Eyes director Jag Mundhra; the Pamela Anderson-starring Snapdragon (1993); and Scorned (1993) and Scorned 2 (1997) until the form floundered. And while 1992’s SEXUAL RESPONSE sits at the bottom end of Amritraj’s flesh-laden run, it’s worth persevering with, primarily due to the inimitable talents of Shannon Tweed.

Having previously dominated in the aforementioned Last Call and Night Eyes II (1991), in Sexual Response, the mighty Tweed does an equally great job in a film that’s all good concept but half-baked execution, unleashing a dynamite performance as Dr. Eve Robinson [1]. With Tweed dying her signature blonde locks reddy-brown for the role, Eve is the beleaguered host of the eponymous radio show where she dispenses relationship advice to those as carnally vexed as she is. In Sexual Response’s cleverest bit of scripting, writer/associate producer Brent Morris draws a nice parallel between Eve and her listeners when she talks to a lass bemoaning her uninterested spouse; a problem Eve shares in the form of her own hubby, Philip (Vernon Wells). Ponytailed, emotionally cold and controlling, Philip is a real dick — a fact underlined in a quietly tense sequence that sees him foisting his obsessive interest in Mayan art upon Eve, ignoring her attempts at conversation in favour of parading the latest piece of his collection. 

Thankfully, an apparently by chance meeting with a brooding biker, Emile Levisetti’s homonymous Edge (presumably so named as that’s what he lives his life on), changes that; and soon Eve and her black-clad beau are going at it like the clappers in a bunch of spicy sex scenes that were pruned of almost everything bar Tweed boob in the film’s R-rated version. [2] 

But is Edge really who he seems?

And what will nasty ol’ Pip do when he finds out he’s been cuckolded? 

Sadly, the answers aren’t that interesting. Despite boasting some initially intriguing character footing and demonstrating a modicum of wit (the moment in which Eve snaps at work and begins taking out her grievances on her callers is hilarious, and a suspicious Philip polishing his shotgun in an overly masturbatory fashion before popping off a few stress-relieving rounds is a great sight gag), Morris’ arse-numbing story lacks any sense of urgency, and all the pretty, well framed shots in the world can’t disguise that, for much of Sexual Response’s duration, Israeli director Yaky Yosha is stuck doing the exact same thing Jag Mundhra had to do in Night Eyes: mark time. And though Tweed’s shaded, multi-faceted turn as a woman figuring out what she truly wants in life is excellent, she’s let down by the utterly dreadful Levisetti. Not only is — sigh — ‘Edge’ poorly written and deeply unappealing (there’s no discernible reason as to why Eve would even entertain saying hello to the bloke, let alone shag him), Levisetti himself is a charisma-less vacuum.

USA ● 1992 ● Erotic Thriller ● 90mins

Shannon Tweed, Emile Levisetti, Vernon Wells, Catherine Oxenberg ● Dir. Yaky Yosha ● Wri. Brent Morris

[1] Post Sexual Response, Tweed and Amritraj would team up on Illicit Dreams (1994), Victim of Desire (1995), Electra (1996), and the above-noted Night Eyes Three (1993) and Scorned.
[2] The best bonk, by the way, is a vigorous wham-bang-banging against the stairs that sends one of Philip’s beloved Mayan vases flying.

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