For many years I found myself wanting for a Giallo set in a strip club. I was busy watching actual Italian thrillers and while the occasionally dancer would come along, it wasn’t until I turned my eye back to the United States Of Trashy Cinema that I discovered what my CINESLUDGE co-host, Dan Taylor, called the STRIPPERS IN PERIL genre. I have found a deep and abiding love for these, as have several of the iconic directors and producers of the stuff that kept us awake and up in the cinerect sense during the 90s cable television years. Now I have what feels like an endless pile of them to pull through. While they occasionally are little more than fluf(fer) it’s a distinct pleasure when you find one that features EVERYTHING a skin n’ sin film fanatic could want. Now, MIDNIGHT TEASE isn’t up in the stratosphere of NAKED OBSESSION or anything, but it’s got the elements of excitement for maximum delight…ment.
MIDNIGHT TEASE gives us the tale of Samantha, a stripper with a big heart and a big chest…but something is wrong. She has these visions! Visions of a slimy looking guy being killed and screwed in weird fantasy scenarios that usually involve naked women thrusting and gyrating and killing. But why? And when other girls start showing up dead, it’s on as we get positively Edwige Fenechian. But in perfect Giallo fashion, there are some nifty red herrings. You have the scuzzy bartender that first lays on the charm, and then seduces the “good girl” at knifepoint. It’s OK, she thinks it’s sexy! CLONK!
And there is a positively epic relationship between Samantha and her therapist that includes him looking at his watch as she comes undone AND then heading down to watch her strip. That doesn’t pan out, but…he still ends up in her bed. And could we forget the good girl? What could SHE be up to? Fascinated by the stripping lifestyle, she seems to be transforming into…oh, you might have seen something like this before. You’ll figure that part out!
The plot and dialog is ONE HUNDRED PERCENT on target, never getting too heavy, but also ladling in some uncomfortable and cross edited dark secret stuff with the slinky sensualism of the dance du strip! And running just barely under 80 minutes, the opening riff AND entire WELCOME TO THE DARK SIDE track is played THREE TIMES! That right there makes the film a must.
Director Scott Levy does a good job channeling his second assistant director chops from the Corman exploitation cinema classes into a film that maintains a little style and translates a fun screenplay that isn’t afraid to twist on the audience by inserting a rather nasty bit while cutting back and forth to a strip club montage at the awesomely titled CLUB FUGAZI! I was struck at how well the cast, many of whom I’m unfamiliar with, are at nailing down the vibe you get from the more established sexploitation crews. Lisa Boyle and Rachel Reed are great as the leading ladies, playing off each other in the best Blonde / Brunette and head cases of a different variety with ease and you would swear that Justin Carroll was channeling his best Richard Grieco. And come to think of it…. Grieco played an extremely similar role JUST LAST YEAR in the Fred Olen Ray film, AFTER MIDNIGHT! Time warp…Stripper Drama!! And please, you must pay respect to the great Bob McFarland (Sonny from the Half Shirt Girl Cop classic…ANGEL OF DESTRUCTION!) as he sleazes it up as a cop! Well, I can stop carrying on, because the doc is looking at his watch and even though I’m huddled in my cinematic leather coat and ready for the Jim Wynorski produced MIDNIGHT TEASE 2, he says I have to go. Definitely a Stripper In Peril Film for any aficionado of the genre. It doesn’t just tease, it even comes with a happy ending!
And hey…bow down to the songwriting credits for Welcome To The Dark Side…I always do!!!