It's a shit storm out there
Uh, yeah. The amount you will enjoy this movie is directly proportional to your appreciation of a James Woods performance in full-on hambone gear. The film is ‘loosely’ based on famed LA crime novelist James Ellroy’s Blood on the Moon. Woods plays Lloyd Hopkins, a hard-boiled (see above), ‘unorthodox’ LA cop who has grown sick and tired of scumbags, hot on a the trail of a kinky serial lady-killer. Sounds great, right?
It starts out promisingly enough, as Hopkins is called to one more Hollywood crime scene, where he finds a young woman strung upside-down and gutted brutally, with ominous poetic lines scrawled in the victim’s blood on the wall. Looking through the apartment, he sees a newspaper with a male hustler’s sex ad circled, and a book removed from the shelf – a feminist manifesto called ‘Rage in the Womb.’ (uh-oh) Hopkins seems to have trouble leaving the job at the office- his ‘bedtime stories’ for his daughter revolve around ‘how I nailed that perp.’ Before going to sleep, she asks “Tell me again how you caught the scumbag, Daddy?” But mom isn’t having it, and confronts him for tarnishing their child’s innocence. Woods launches into a possessed tirade about how every corpse was once a little girl and that “innocence kills!”
Needless to say, his wife and kid take off, so he calls his old partner (dependable Charles Durning) for a good old-fashioned night-time bust, where he kills a Mexican, and screws his hooker date. So the movie seems to be rumbling right along – the sleep-deprived cop digs manically through the old files, convinced that a serial killer is targeting innocent white liberal college-age girls looking for kinky sex. (He turns over old victim photos, racial profiling while muttering to himself – black, black, whatever – innocent!) Meanwhile, we get Woods in his pock-marked ‘Bad Lieutenant’ mode, railing against the captain and screwing female suspects willy-nilly, including the luscious Randi Brooks (TIGHTROPE), as a kinky past-her-prime actor/swinger party madam).
Then he follows a lead to a feminist bookstore, develops a ‘love interest’ in its ‘suspicious’ proprietor (annoying turtle-necked Warren), and the movie literally turns to shit. The stereotypical chain-smoking man-hater quickly melts and opens up to Hopkins, recounting how everything changed for her on the traumatic night she was raped in high school bathroom, while other girls left the scene. They go to dinner, he listens to the endless droning story, growing visibly impatient – Best line – “Well I heard about the rape- might as well get the whole enchilada.” Turns out an anonymous secret admirer has been sending her pressed flowers over the 15 years, with encouraging notes about her ordeal. Woods (detective work) finds that these notes have all been sent on the exact dates of the girls’ murders!
After eliminating (and killing) a creepy beat cop and former jock (HILL STREET BLUES’ Haid) as the murderer (he was just the rapist, see), Woods pinpoints the murderer as someone who identified with Warren and the feminist plight – wait- in her old high-school yearbook, there it is – a moody loner named Franco, nicknamed “poet laureate.” OK now just to find him- I know, how about the old high school. He tracks down the perp to the high school gym, where after some confusing acrobatics, he blows him away with a sawed-off. (“I just got suspended – and I don’t give a fuck!”)
I made this movie sound better than it was, as it goes seriously off the rails – from gritty Spillanity to Sylvia Plathitude. Woods seems to sense it too, so he makes the most of the crap and milks it to the max. If you only read this and never see it – you’re welcome (in advance).