Written by: George Pacheco on July 21st, 2013
Theatrical Release Date: USA, August 1994
Director: Phedon Papamichael
Writer: Frederick Stroppel
Cast: Finola Hughes, Glenn Shadix, Brent David Fraser
DVD Release Date: July 9th, 2013
Approximate Running Time: 87 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Stereo English
DVD Release: Scorpion Releasing
Region Encoding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $19.95
Dark Side of Genius is the latest in what has been a string of softcore erotica release from Scorpion Releasing, and yet another disappointment from a label whose release schedule is as confounding as it is uneven.
This film does have one important aspect working in its favor, however: the cinematography. Dark Side of Genius is wonderfully shot—to the point of absolute beauty—by director and cinematographer Phedon Papamichael, a DP whose resume includes such high profile Academy fare as The Descendants and Walk the Line. The colors, light and shadow are perfectly captured by Papamichael at almost every turn, lifting the visual aesthetic of what could have very easily been a generic-looking “90s film” into a piece of celluloid which works upon a level similar to the realm of art in which the story takes place.
This plot flows a curious art critic—played by General Hospital actress Finola Hughes, whose unique beauty benefits greatly from Papamichael’s watchful camera eye—in her attempts to get close to a brooding artist who has recently reappeared upon the scene after serving time in an asylum for the murder of his girlfriend. It’s a plot typical to the “erotic thriller” genre, complete with all the usual trappings, dialog and situations…minus the gratuitous and sleazy nudity most often associated with such films.
Granted, sexual situations DO occur during the course of the film, but none of it involves any of the main cast, who—to their credit—approach all of this admittedly ridiculous material with straight faced seriousness, lending a certain air of credibility to an otherwise silly little film. Dark Side of Genius actually takes itself a bit too seriously, resulting in an almost impenetrable air of melodrama against which not even the comedic supporting cast—which includes Moon Unit Zappa as Hughes’ wise cracking roommate—can surmount.
This is a middling film; a psychological thriller bereft of any real excitement or surprises, where the only saving grace is its magnificent sense of visual style. Otherwise, Dark Side of Genius is better left forgotten; a small time directorial attempt from a DP who has obviously gone on to bigger and better things in recent years.
Scorpion Releasing presents Dark Side of Genius is an anamorphic widescreen print which preserves the film’s original aspect ratio. Mild dirt and debris is consistent throughout, but never rises to a level where it impedes visual enjoyment of the film. Sound is balanced and well mixed, while extras include interviews with both Finola Hughes Brent Fraser. Overall, Dark Side of Genius receives a respectful, yet confusing release from Scorpion.