Soap Suds: Overexposed (1990)

Dave gets a lather on for a soap star stalking in this Roger Corman-produced thriller.

“I just wish these people had something to do with their lives,” says weary soap star Kristin (Catherine Oxenberg).

“If they did,” replies boyfriend Phillip (David Naughton), “They wouldn’t be watching TV.”

Despite a role in one of the hottest shows on network television, Kristen is growing increasingly jaded with her life in the spotlight. Obsessive fans (like Karen Black’s crazy crank, who virtually steals the film) are waiting in readiness outside the studio gates, and the intense scrutiny is affecting her home life as well. However, just when things seem like they can’t get any worse, her co-workers start to disappear without a trace. Is the stress beginning to blur the distinction between fact and fiction? Or is Kristen the target of murderous stalker?

Director Larry Brand had crossed paths with Schlock Pit icon Gary Graver upon journeying to Hollywood from New York in the mid-‘70s, bagging his first job in the business as the driver and personal assistant to Orson Welles. Screenwriting got him work in the early part of the next decade, although it was Roger Corman that facilitated his breakthrough with The Drifter (1988): a stylish thriller that showed a lot of promise, and made good use of an impressive cast that boasted Kim Delaney, Timothy Bottoms and Miles O’Keeffe.

His attempt at Edgar Allan Poe in Masque of the Red Death (1989) was O.K. but less appealing, and the melodramatic nature of OVEREXPOSED, complete with ill-fitting slasher tropes, means it fits uneasily in the middle of his Corman-produced trilogy. Identity is its main flaw, as Brand’s film skirts drama, thriller, comedy and horror without throwing its hat on either, while aspects such as the repressed childhood trauma that haunts Kristen’s dreams never become the focal points you feel they should.

Technically it’s a winner. David Sperling, who started out lensing The Bogey Man (1980) and Olivia (1983) for Ulli Lommel, has a crisp style to his photography with an excitable camera to boot, and Barney Burman is on hand (along with Jeff Farley) to ensure the handful of practical effects are delivered with aplomb.

Shot in the October of 1989, Overexposed had the standard quick turnaround for New Horizons, even gracing a couple of theatres the following spring for a brief theatrical run that netted a cool half a million. It was Brand’s last film for Corman, and he went on to make the excellent Till the End of the Night (1995) – but it was his script for Halloween: Resurrection (2002) that top-lined most obituaries, when he died suddenly in 2019 at the age of 69.

USA ● 1990 ● Thriller ● 80mins

Catherine Oxenberg, David Naughton, Karen Black, William Bumiller ● Dir. Larry Brand ● Wri. Larry Brand, Rebecca Reynolds

Artwork courtesy of VHS Collector

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