Synopsis: A popular Los Angeles anchorwoman is stalked by a photographer who’s obsessed with her and wants to win her affections at any cost.
Stars: Morgan Fairchild, Michael Sarrazin, Vince Edwards, Andrew Stevens, Colleen Camp, Kevin Brophy, Wendy Smith Howard, Joanne Linville
Director: David Schmoeller
Running Length: 104 minutes
TMMM Score: (5/10)
Review: I’m not quite sure how I wound up crossing paths with The Seduction, I just know that I found myself in the mood for some early ‘80s glam wrapped around a slightly sleazy plot and this more than fit the bill. Here’s another film with a VHS cover that stared back at me from the shelf of my home video store for years, but I didn’t dare even suggest it as a possibility of a rental to my parents because…well, just look at that image of the gorgeous Morgan Fairchild featured above. They would have taken one sideways glance at that fallen spaghetti strap and sent me out to the car to wait for them to pick out our movie of the night…and who knows what unknown Richard Attenborough film we would have wound up with. No, I knew that my time with this one would eventually arrive. And here we are…decades later.
Was the wait worth it? Well, let’s say this. I was happy to get reacquainted with Fairchild after all this time because while she was never going to be an Oscar-winning motion picture powerhouse, she had a seriously strong run for a number of years on television as the go-to for assertive boss ladies that ruled the roost. That’s why her work in The Seduction is of such interest, and what must have attracted her to the role, because her character begins the film in such a vulnerable state (literally, she’s first shown swimming quite nude in her pool) and eventually takes control of her terrifying situation. It does take some effort to get there, though, and by the time it does the viewer may wonder why an apparently intelligent woman waits so long to take a stand.
The opening of The Seduction takes place during that aforementioned nude swim, a slow breaststroke (no pun intended) over which Dionne Warwick breathlessly coos about “Love’s Hiding Place”, written by composer Lalo Schifrin (Tales of Halloween). The song is lousy but Schifrin’s score throughout the film tends to underline the freedom Jamie Douglas (Fairchild) feels as the movie begins only to turn menacing as neighbor/stalker Derek (Andrew Stevens, The Fury) obsessively pushes his way into every aspect of her life and won’t take no for an answer. A successful anchorwoman for the 6 o’clock news, Jamie has achieved success in her work and has equality in her relationship with her reporter boyfriend Brandon (Michael Sarrazin), a man that would do anything to protect her.
Even Brandon is no match for Derek’s fixation on Jamie and unlike other films with similar themes, writer/director David Schmoeller (Puppet Master) has his fanatic villain get right to business before you can make too much of an indent in your couch. He’s so aggressive with his advances that it’s no wonder Jamie rebuffs him, not to mention she already has a boyfriend that she likes just fine, thank you very much. Derek has an admirer of his own, co-worker Julie (Wendy Smith Howard) and I halfway thought her plotline would somehow intertwine with a series of murders Jamie is investigating of young women being brutally killed by an assailant known as the Sweetheart Killer. Alas, Schmoeller only has eyes (and energy) for one plot and with The Seduction running 104 minutes…it’s a lot of plot to get through.
To their credit, Fairchild and Stevens are admirable in their respective roles of victim and victimizer and both are asked to do some outrageous things over the course of the film. I mean, Fairchild and co-star Colleen Camp (The House with a Clock in Its Walls) have a long scene at a gym and in the sauna/steam room/showers and then she comes home and instantly gets into a bubble bath where Stevens watches her from the closet. Didn’t she JUST take a shower? It’s all in service to that quickening pulse race of titillation that just reads as skeevy now. Yet both actors are well cast in their parts, and I believed in what they were selling. The same business of no one being able to protect the woman being terrorized that exists in movies today runs rampant here and it’s nice to see some action being taken by Fairchild finally. Still, it does arrive late in the film after so much has happened to poor Jamie that you don’t so much root for her as you start to hope something happens to one of them to cause the other to lose interest.
Rather expectedly, The Seduction was a big ‘ole flopperoo when it arrived in theaters in January 1982. On Golden Pond, Absence of Malice, and Raiders of the Lost Ark (which was released in June of 1981) beat it at the box office. Fairchild and Stevens would go on to have considerably long careers working in television and Schmoeller would find himself behind several notable movies in the direct to video horror market in the coming decades. There’s no real seducing going on in The Seduction and it could be classified more as The Distraction, but it’s decently made, competently acted, and has a satisfying finale. For the genre, that’s three important boxes checked.