1 December 1998 | react105
A failed attempt at a Gothic romance.
Whoever added the phrase, "Lurid Tales," to the title should be sued for deceptive advertising. It's about as "lurid" as a cup of lukewarm milk.
Shannon Dow Smith is "Tom Dunsmore," an American college student who is induced by an evil video arcade manager to try a new "virtual reality device." The "device" transports him to 18th century England, where he is plunged into the middle of a dispute between three lovely ladies and the corrupt local land barons. (There are mentions of a despotic king, Puritans, and an unresponsive Parliament, but these "historical details" are so far wrong that it's better not to listen to them.) Tom, of course, sides with the ladies; for his trouble, he is arrested and hanged, which ends his "virtual reality adventure." So much for plot.
Smith's "acting" consists mostly of a simpering smile that seems to be saying, "What am I doing in this mess?" The somnolent pacing, foggy soft-focus imagery, and muddled plot undercut whatever dramatic interest might have existed. Even the "erotic" scenes are rendered impotent by syrupy slow-motion, coy camera angles, and prudish editing.
Gorgeous Kim Dawson in the title role, and the delicious Betsy Lynn George and Christi Harris as her nubile daughters, try desperately to breathe some life into the film, but their efforts are hurled fruitlessly into a vast pit of mush.
Director "Ellen Cabot" (actually David LeCoteau, helmsman of dozens of bozo exploitation flicks) may have been aiming for a Harlequin romance; "she" missed badly.
For the record: The flick was filmed in Romania, with almost all minor roles filled by "local talent," some of whom evidently learned their lines phonetically.
One last kvetch: The end credits include a cast list, without indicating who played which role. This is a disservice to both the actors and the audience; the practice ought not to be allowed.