Fatal Exposure (1989)

Oh, this friggin’ SOV’er . . . it’s a bizarre gem that wastes no time and is everything that the SOV porn-backed Spine strove to be — and failed. It skips the opening title cards and gives us two 30-year-old virgin teenagers making out for the first time — well, Marybeth gives herself away for the first time — on a backwoods rural road — and goes porn. Then the tits and dicks are a-floppin’ (we don’t see any penis, but you get the point). One silhouette figure in the fog later (it’s not an owl, Marybeth) and we get an ice pick in Biff Preppy’s ear and Marybeth — breasts a-flyin’ — gets another ice pick through the mouth into the tree trunk, and that’s after our black-clad killer in a beret — and no mask — gives her a quiz about dying and blood. So, you see: if you fail, you die. (And that’s an important “plot point,” so keep that under your beret, for later.)

Okay, so two kills are on the tote board. Roll the opening title cards with the not-Whitesnake metal tune about “moving violations” and “being under the gun” and “lost desires.” Is the SOVness as cheesy as the unpoofy hair metal?

Oh, hell yes. And so much more. This is a movie where, if you’re not a baptist, you’ll be forced into being a baptist. So, yeah, baptists are dying here: brutally. Luckily, the female ones wear lingerie and, once they take off the glasses and let down the hair bun — they’re “hot” as you know what. Yeah, so we think this is a bunch of adult film stars nom de plumin’ for mainstream legitimacy between the Penthouse reels.

Not Body Heat. Not Basic Instinct. Not Fatal Attraction. But wants to be. But Jack likes his ice picks like Catherine Trammel. But he’s no Michael Douglas.

In case you’re wondering — and if that opening kill salvo doesn’t put you wise: Fatal Exposure isn’t a repack of Dennis Devine’s SOV debut, Fatal Images (1989), although this, as with Devine’s flick, centers around cameras. But the camera isn’t haunted. But the photographer is: by Jack the Ripper.

I know. I know. Another Jack the Ripper movie? As if Christopher Lewis’s The Ripper, and Jeff Hathcock’s Night Ripper! and Peter Sasdy’s Hands of the Ripper, and Jess Franco’s (who fucks up any genre) Klaus Kinski-starring Jack the Ripper, and Lucio Fulci’s nothing-to-do-with-Jack Halloween ripoff The New York Ripper wasn’t enough . . . now we get SOV’in Jack Rippington, he the great, great grandson of the pride of White Chapel. So, Jack Jr.’s not possessed by a spirit, just a couple of f’d double helices from granddad Jack’s semen sacs.

So, what’s Rip’s (Blake Bahner, formerly of the U.S. soap Days of Our Lives) glitch? He photographs women . . . and drinks their blood, as it’s his “viagra,” if you will — so Jackie is a sort of vampire. As with this week’s review of Murderlust pinching-foretelling the serial killer exploits of Dennis “BTK” Rader, this time we’re getting a pinch of ex-race car driver and faux-photographer Christopher Wilder who used women to lure other women under the guise of “modeling” for him.

So, to than end, Jackie finds, not a new victim, but “love” with Erica — he picks her up in a cemetery; she’s “turned on” by death. She’s perfect: he uses her as bait to lure women for him to photokill. Of course, Erica (Ena O’Rourke, in her film debut; vanished shortly after) is as dumb as Marybeth who kissed the ice pick, earlier. And Erica will make — finally, after all the searching — a great incubator for Jack’s son to carry on the family’s business: making great art for: okay, you see, the real reason the original Jack the Ripper killed all those women: for his photography endeavors. Oh, and it gets weirder: Erica is a doppelganger for Jackie Rippington’s great grandmother. Calling Dr. Freud: Jack wants to oedipal grandma. Lovely. Let loose the semen sacs o’ double helices.

So, speaking of the ice picking that opened the movie: under 20-minutes in, we get a stockade decap and a gym drink tumbler blood refill. See, we told you baptists were going to die . . . in a soft-core sex slasher that ended up on Showtime’s late night “after dark” weekends all those cable-years ago. Circular saws, electrocutions, and a wide array of SOV-cheap gore, long, soft-core bedroom sex scenes padding the short running time, moonshine jugs of chloroform, a lingerie bondage scene, bubbling sheriffs, serial killers breaking the fourth wall, serial killer inner thoughts via voice overs, southern plantations that aren’t Dunsmuir Mansion but wants to be such, wooden actors (trying), and Bloody Mary drink jokes cut footloose across Alabama — with nary a banjo on anyone’s knee — ensues.

Master-pieces. Yuk, yuk. And Bits and Pieces is the title of another, earlier, SOV. A homage? Probably not. “Shocker,” meaning Wes Craven? Nah.

If you read our reviews for our “SOV Week” tribute, we’ve sunk pretty deep into the analog mire — but the quagmire gets quaggier via Google as you’ll find so many more SOVs from the ’80s and ’90s to overwhelm the VHS shelves of your analog mind. And this directing effort from Peter B. Good, the producer behind the death-docs Faces of Death III and IV (he made his directing debut with the 1978 sci-fi/haunted forest romp The Force on Thunder Mountain*) is one of the better SOV’ers of the ’80s that will be one of those analog scuzz’ers you’ll return to for a few more views over the years — as have I. It’s a shame this was Good’s final directing effort, as Fatal Exposure showed a lot of potential for future growth.

We found a nice, clean VHS rip on a really great, You Tube retro-VHS page, The Burial Ground 5. Enjoy!

* Yes, you know us all too well, for we have since reviewed the VHS slopper that is The Force on Thunder Mountain. Once a film title is dropped, the tape worm bores into the cortex and it must be excised by sheer QWERTY force.

About the Author: You can learn more about the writings of R.D Francis on Facebook. He also writes for B&S About Movies.

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