Erotic Underground Closeup: In the Cold of the Night (1990)


Nico Mastorakis's (Blood Tide, Blind Date) masterpiece of the absurd, In the Cold of the Night is a hilarious, dangerous, and ludicrously sexy vaporwave relic of the VHS era.  Brimming with strange performances, endless pizza consumption, deep state surveillance paranoia, absolutely stunning cinematography, and sexy saxophone riffs that would make Kenny G blush, this is a potpourri of sleaze and a one-of-a-kind film viewing experience.   

A high-profile fashion photographer begins to have nightmares in which he murders a woman.   His attempts to learn more bring her from his dreams to his reality, and the pair quickly fall for one another, leading the duo to discover a hidden conspiracy that threatens everything.  Mastorakis and Greg Perry's script is an incoherent Hodge Podge of De Palma homage, Sidaris love, and downright insanity.  This is a film where there is always something happening.... regardless of whether or not it actually relates to the story, if the film even has one.  Jeff Lester stars as the photographer.  He's supported by Adrianna Sachs (one of Bob Morton's prostitutes during his ill-fated, cocaine fueled celebration in Robocop), Marc Singer, and of course...Shannon Tweed. It's fitting that this would be the role that would ultimately catapult her to the throne of erotic thrillers.  While it's essentially a cameo, Tweed manages to have one the most risqué lines in the film, instantly letting the viewer know that this will be a no holds barred skin flick that could never be made today.  

The most important aspect of the film is the A E S T H E T I C.  Neon lights flood every frame, waterbeds glow perilously bright, and the principal views films on laserdisc.  The nightmare sequences have a low-fi computer game quality that somehow manages to work.  This is the absolute magic of this movie.  It should not work, it’s an incoherent mess, and yet it is a captivating spectacle for every second of its 112-minute running time, the pinnacle of which is one of the hottest sex sequences ever filmed that involves... a bowl of marbles.  De Palma himself is referenced in the script, winking to the viewer without any sense of subterfuge while Tippi Hedren herself appears in what is perhaps the most jarringly meta cameos of all time.  All of these various eccentricities are woven deftly my Mastorakis into an absolute madhouse of fashion, pizza, and hi-tech mind control.  

All of this is made possible by Andreas Bellis' gorgeous cinematic.  His visual translation of Mastorakis' message is a pristine time capsule of an era of excess and the message is pure cinematic love.  This is a film that is made for people who love movies.  It's not a good movie and if it was, it would not be as important or relevant as it is because it is a reminder that the labor in labors of love is the important part, not the final result.  This is a kooky mess that has a relentless charm that simply refuses to let you not like some aspect of it.  You may end up disliking the film, but there will be some part of it, perhaps Brian Thompson's bodybuilding comic relief or Sachs riding a motorcycle through her apartment for no reason, that will stick with you forever.   

In the aftermath of Verhoeven's masterwork Robocop, In the Cold of the Night seems like a distant cousin, bred from the noirish roots of Kiss Me Deadly, the lofty hedonism of Blow Up, and the dystopian horrors of a post cold war America.  The final result is a weird, sex fueled detective story that showcases how high and how low the genre can go.  Currently available via a stunning 4K transfer from Vinegar Syndrome, this is an excellent addition to any film lover's collection or for anyone who is interested in the history of the erotic thriller.  An adult oriented fantasy in which nothing actually makes sense, this one is best experienced as a mood piece rather than a traditional story.  Do not attempt to find logic or coherence, there be neon monsters here. 

--Kyle Jonathan