Blu-ray Review: Double Feature: The Hot Spot & Killing Me Softly

The erotic thriller used to be a major staple of movie theaters. They were appointment viewing on HBO and Showtime. They were hot rentals at videostores. But over the last decade, they’ve lost their appeal to viewers more eager for the latest horror scare or comic book-based event flick. How could viewers have lost their lust for body heat in jeopardy on the big screen? They have also lost their video action since people can easily find the clips online and not rent or buy the DVD. There are traditionalists who want to enjoy the whole films at home on a big screen. Double Feature: The Hot Spot & Killing Me Softly are two films about characters wrapped in more danger than wardrobe. This double feature did a fine rental business by fans of Jennifer Connelly, Virginia Madsen and Heather Graham. Now you can enjoy even more of the trio thanks to Blu-ray resolution.

The Hot Spot (1990 – 130 minutes) is a sweaty Texas tale of noir seduction directed by Dennis Hopper (Easy Rider). The script is based on Hell Hath No Fury by Charles Williams. There’s a lot of fury in the hellishly hot town. Not to mention quite a few demons. Don Johnson (A Boy And His Dog & Miami Vice) shows up in the middle of nowhere and lands a job selling cars. He quickly gets tangled up with two women that seem to be the opposite of each other. Jennifer Connelly (Waking the Dead) is a sweet young office gal at the dealership. She seems so innocent. Virginia Madsen (Sideways) is the owner’s too hot to handle wife. She’s trouble. While Don enjoys both ladies, his true passion is sizing up the local bank for a heist. Can he make a clean getaway with both ladies out to trap him in their schemes? Jack Nitzche’s soundtrack features Miles Davis and John Lee Hooker dipping into the groaning and moaning blues. It sounds sweet coming through the speakers. The Hot Spot on VHS used to get stretched out during the beach scene featuring Madsen and Connelly. Even running over two hours, the movie doesn’t feel stretched. It’s a perfect viewing on a hot and humid summer night.

Killing Me Softly (2003 – 100 minutes) was highly anticipated as director Kaige Chen’s first English language production. The Chinese filmmaker had won at Cannes with Farewell My Concubine. Heather Graham was still high profile with Boogie Nights, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me and Bowfinger. She seemed a natural for an erotic thriller about a woman who cheats on her boyfriend with the mysterious Joseph Fiennes (Shakespeare In Love). She makes DVD-Roms from companies. He’s a mountain climber. Eventually she dumps the boyfriend and marries Fiennes, but she knows so little about the guy other than he really likes to gets dirty in the bedroom. There’s quite a bit of Cinemax After Dark level erotica. But there’s also plenty of plot. Strange letters arrive warning her that he’s some sort of Bluebeard. Fiennes’ sister (Californication‘s Natascha McElhone) swears he’s a nice guy. But who can she really trust? All you need to trust is that the version on the Blu-ray is Unrated. This makes up for the fact that viewers never got to see her shagged by Austin Powers despite the promising title. The carnal highlights are the reason to upgrade to the Blu-ray. The movie however lack in other elements which explains why Kaige Chen hasn’t made another English language film. This is a movie that is all about Heather Graham’s performance and not the complete package.

Double Feature: The Hot Spot & Killing Me Softly delivers what you really want out of the movies when it comes to extra resolution. The Hot Spot is the superior film. Hopper was able to really get beneath the grit of the small Texas town. You won’t want to hit the forward chapter button to get to those special scenes. There’s too much good action to get selective. Killing Me Softly gets kind of dopey when the passion dies down to let the plot expose itself. The good news about watching these two films on Blu-ray there won’t be any stretch tape sections.

The video is 1.78:1 anamorphic for both films. The extra resolution adds to the reason these were always checked out at the videostore. The audio is DTS-HD Master Audio stereo. The mix on The Hot Spot brings out the goodness in John Lee Hooker’s voice and Miles Davis’ trumpet bursts.

No bonus features.

Double Feature: The Hot Spot & Killing Me Softly brings the glory of Heather Graham, Virginia Madsen and Jennifer Connelly to Blu-ray. This is an excellent twin bill for those craving an erotic thriller evening.

Shout! Factory presents Double Feature: The Hot Spot & Killing Me Softly. Directed by: Dennis Hopper and Chen Kaige. Starring: Don Johnson, Jennifer Connelly, Virginia Madsen and Heather Graham. Boxset Contents: 2 Films on 1 Blu-ray. Released: August 13, 2013.

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