New To Blu: Arrow Video - Crimes of Passion (1984)

Here's our review of Ken Russell's look at sexuality, commitment, and religious mayhem. 

This week, Ken Russell's sexualized thriller Crimes of Passion comes home in an Arrow Video release which includes the theatrical cut and a second unedited cut. Having never seen the original version, I can say that the unedited release for this blu-ray pushes close to the boundary of being an X rated feature. With excessive nudity, anal penetration with a nightstick, masturbatory scenes at a peep show, numerous scenes of Turner in the flesh, and various other indiscretions, Crimes of Passion was way ahead of its time. In fact, this film is so hardcore in some areas that it would have a hard time getting through today's stringent censorship rules. 

kathleen turner hot
The power of Christ compels you!!!

Only 4 years after his visual masterpiece, Altered States, Russell delivered this highly erotic, sensual melodrama that further pushed Kathleen Turner's edginess and helped Anthony Perkins continue his slate of pervy, off kilter roles as an actor. Perkins would only turn in five more cinematic performances after this darkened, satirical spin as a religious zealot with a taste for hookers. His acting in Crimes of Passion as Rev. Peter Shayne mirrored his performance as Norman Bates in many ways. Perkins threw himself into the role with such personal recklessness that other actors on set battled him over due to his use of drugs (poppers) and overt behavior. 

Bordering on pornography at times, Turner was extremely brave to attack this role with sheer abandon. Many other actresses would have shied away from taking on such adult themed content. Somehow, she braved through this hedonistic material and used it to further her thriving career. As a hooker by night, her performance as China Blue is a smoldering testament to her volatility as an actress. As a designer by day, Turner turns in one of her most emotive roles as Joanna Crane. This was a two tiered work for Kathleen. She crushes the opposing personalities perfectly as she's supported by the wooden but good hearted nature of actor, John Laughlin. 

 young kathleen turner
Where the hell do you think this thing is going?

While Crimes of Passion has been bashed for some of its unnatural dialogue and strangely paced story, there is a core tale of man's journey to self fulfillment and sexual awareness. With Turner's youthful sensuality on full display and a realistic tale of a man's marriage falling apart, Crimes of Passion actually has a lot to say. In typical fashion, Russell uses decadence and debauchery to full effect while lining his core story with realistic human elements and perversions. Tinting the film with beautiful lighting and a unabashed look at the seedy underbelly of a prostitution district, his work here is nearly impeccable. 

If you have stomach for eroticism that's fueled by great writing and performances, you'll want to check out this new release blu-ray. This is a great tale of good and evil that's balanced by three intriguing characters, each from a differing perspective in life. We get the good natured man that wants a perfect relationship with a woman. We're given the hooker that walks a fine line between both her personalities. And we get the evil preacher that wants to commit heinous acts against women. In Russell's career, this is probably his most deviant work. While it may not be as good as The Devils or Altered States, it was another chance for him to look at man's nature and offers up another spin on his view of religion's contemptuous affair with violence, kink, and lust. See it. 

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