Bad Influence (1990)

R   |    |  Drama, Thriller

Bad Influence (1990) Poster

A soft and hesitant young man is in danger when tries to break toxic relationships with a mysterious stranger claiming to be his friend.




  • James Spader in Bad Influence (1990)
  • Rob Lowe in Bad Influence (1990)
  • Lisa Zane in Bad Influence (1990)
  • Rob Lowe and Lisa Zane in Bad Influence (1990)
  • Rob Lowe in Bad Influence (1990)
  • Bad Influence (1990)

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Reviews & Commentary

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User Reviews

7 August 2008 | lost-in-limbo
| In bad company.
Some people have got that influential touch that can bring any one out of their comfort zone. There are risk takers and those you play it safe. It's matter of personal choice. The clinically dark yuppie thriller 'Bad Influence' takes on a psychological power play between an enigmatically bold drifter (a tremendously venomous Rob Lowe) and a pinned-down marketing analyst (suitably acted by James Spader). Watch how the relationship grows and slowly treads dangerous ground, as the dream of being confident and striving to overcome one's fears is manipulated into a tormented nightmare of aggression and punishment for simple, ungraspable fulfilment for one's own gain. It's a game on someone's life and Lowe's icy portrayal of the controlling puppeteer works effectively. Sure the fundamental storyline isn't anything new (an old formula ala noir going contemporary) and some plot avenues seem a little too glossed over and hard to fathom, but Curtis Hanson's daringly sharp and tight direction cements intense empowerment and morbid curiosity in certain visual suspense. Using an almost voyeuristic approach he draws upon unearthing the violence, drug habit and sleaze trying to hide behind a materialistic obsessive society. Fascinatingly slick and stylish, and the cruise-like pace moves along well enough. The soundtrack has that steamy, on edge kick that doesn't show its age. Also for one in this time period, it's strangely underplayed and kept in the background. The support cast play trumps to Lowe and Spader, but Lisa Zane titillates in her all too short of a role. Fashionably entertaining psycho-thriller.

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Did You Know?


In chapter seventeen of Rob Lowe's autobiography "Stories I Only Tell My Friends", he describes being at rehearsals in a church off Highland Avenue when he is asked to approve his make-up artist, Sheryl Berkoff. He recognises her because, years before, they'd been on a blind date together. He describes her as 'an artist of the face' who 'knows her shit cold'. In July of 1991, he married her. He also suggests that Bad Influence was originally submitted as a writing sample to producer Steve Tisch ("the only man with both an Oscar and a Superbowl trophy"). Lowe had originally wanted to play the role of Michael, "the average Joe", but was taken to lunch by David Koepp, and talked into taking the role of Alex. He describes Tom Brokaw leading the evening news with the Rob Lowe sex tapes, and following that item with news about Tiananmen square.


Alex: I never made you do anything that wasn't in you already. People are such hypocrites. They go through their whole lives to the day they die saying that they're innocent, but they're not innocent. I showed you that! That's why I killed Claire, Mick.
Michael: My...


Lowe wore a glove on one hand to smear blood on the wall of Michael's apartment. In the following scene, the glove switched hands.

Alternate Versions

The Australian theatrical release was cut to secure an M rating. Much of the sex tape sequence, the discovery of Claire's body and the sequence where Alex tries to blow up Michael's car were cut. These sequences were fully restored for the R rated video release and, oddly enough, the M rated DVD release.


Written by
Tony Joe White
Performed by Etta James
Produced by Barry Beckett
Additional production: Kim Buie and Etta James
Courtesy of Island Records


Plot Summary


Drama | Thriller

Box Office


$7,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$3,822,019 11 March 1990

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:


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