Judas Kiss (1998) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

As the film begins, a security guard is supposed to be paying attention to his video monitors, but is actually watching a porno video about lesbians from outer space. We watch along with him, but we don't just look over his shoulder to get a second hand view of what he sees on his tiny monitor, nor must we squint through the double pixilation of a video tape within a movie. Instead, we watch the porno movie as if we had rented it ourselves. It occupies our full screen, in top quality with lush production qualities, as if the lesbian alien porn were the movie we had rented.  About a minute into the action, there is clear, well lit, full-frontal female nudity, followed by an energetic lesbian love scene aboard a cheesy spaceship that looks like a bad disco from the early 80s.

So right away we know we're not going to be watching "The Sweet Hereafter."

Was there any reason to picture the lesbian porn at length in high quality? None at all.

  • The plot did not require the guard to be watching a porno film. He could have been napping, or watching "To Kill a Mockingbird."

  • If the fact that he was watching a porno film was part of his character development, there was no need to picture it in detail.

  • If it was to be pictured in detail for some reason, it should have been seen on his monitor in order to avoid breaking the fourth wall. Why do we need to see the lesbian porn in high quality at great length?

  • The video within the film had no bearing on the main plot.

Now THAT's gratuitous nudity.

My kind of film.

From those first moments, Judas Kiss wants to tell you upfront that it is a guilty pleasure movie, pure and simple. Once you determine that it is not actually a movie about lesbians from outer space, you will see that it is one of those detective stories where ... well, at one point one of the characters turns to another and says, "There is really only one plot: "Nothing is as it seems.'"

It's that kind of movie.

What is it really about?

If the security guard had not been totally into space lesbians, he would have seen and/or reported a kidnapping. A band of four crazy criminals (who often spout faux-poetic dialogue) decide to kidnap a Bill Gates kind of guy, opting to demand a ransom exactly equal to the amount covered by his company's insurance. As predicted, the company has no problem forking over the money, but those darned law enforcement officials insist on taking the matter seriously, not in small part because the kidnappers managed to shoot and kill a witness on their way out, and that witness happened to be the wife of a U.S. Senator. Oops! Murder and kidnapping come under separate jurisdictions, so a cop and an FBI agent must work together on the case. Alan Rickman is the cop assigned to the murder investigation, and Emma Thompson is the federal agent in charge of the kidnapping. You must be thinking, "Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman? So this takes place in Manchester, or London, or someplace like that?"

You're close. New Orleans.

Yup, Em and Rickman spend the entire film trying to speak in Paul Prudhomme accents, y'betcha. As it turns out, they did reasonably well. Their speech did slip out of Louisiana now and then, but they generally managed to cover up their British roots. When they messed up, it was usually to draw out an American "r", which made them sound like cops visiting The Big Easy from Minneapolis. To tell you the truth, their accents didn't really matter very much, because they are both good actors who brought wit and quirky intelligence to their parts, so the film was much better with them than it would have been with two ordinary actors with perfect accents.

The film takes a lot of twists and turns, and involves a lot of secrets. Rickman somehow figures out what is really going on, which is amazing because even the criminals are not completely sure, but he can't pursue the case directly because a lot of people in very important positions don't actually want him to solve the crime. Instead they want him to follow some planted clues and solve the apparent crime, which is actually only a mammoth distraction from what is really going on. So Rickman has to skulk around in the background and solve the crime indirectly.

Don't fret if it sounds too complicated. Judas Kiss is not one of those way-too-confusing stories. In fact, the only reason we are ever confused at all is because we don't know all the details, but the whole scheme makes some sense once the smoke and mirrors are removed, so the story plays out as a pleasurable noir. It is not an ultra-realistic and gritty film, but rather the stylish type of noir in which the complicated story is really of secondary importance when contrasted to the witty and philosophical exchanges between the characters. Rickman and Em provide humorous and literary banter throughout their pursuit, and even the criminals are quirky and articulate. Carla Gugino is an absolute treasure.

A couple of years ago there was a movie called "Real Women Have Curves." I haven't see it, but if its title represents an accurate statement, then a picture of Gugino should be used as the scientific symbol for reality. Her lush, curvaceous figure and innate sexiness combine with a kind of sweet Sally Field wholesomeness and a deceptive intelligence to make her kind of like Salma Hayek without the accent. She is the perfect femme fatale for the film noir genre except that audiences would normally have a hard time accepting her as a calculating schemer. In this film, however, her girl-next-door vulnerability worked to her advantage because the script actually required her to teeter on the tightrope between the roles of criminal and victim. Yes, she was a bad girl - but one with a conscience and a good heart who eventually ends up as the hero of the story, even though it was she who killed the Senator's wife and first turned the intended comical lark into a bloodbath!

How could that be? Oh, it's complicated and delicious, but you'll have to watch the movie to find out!

From the opening sex scene between lesbians from outer space, to the banter between Alan Rickman and Emma Thompson as cynical Louisiana cops, Judas Kiss is a great guilty pleasure film. It went straight to video in the USA, and it is difficult to find, but you should look for it if you love a sleazy, twisty R-rated noir. It's a terrific guilty pleasure film.

DVD INFO

  • This had only been available on a bare bones Region 2 PAL with a questionable fullscreen transfer, but is now carried by Rare Licensed DVDs in a dual region (2 and 4) widescreen edition (anamorphic 16:9) with a slideshow, trailers, cast bios and written interviews.

  • Click on the image below for purchase info.

Judas Kiss DVD Carla Gugino Widescreen (1998)

 

NUDITY REPORT

Carla Gugino shows a breasts, but in a very dimly lit sex scene that never really provides a good look except from the side.

Beverly Hotsprings shows full frontal, and Yvette Lera shows breasts in a lesbian porn film being watched by the security guard at the computer geek's apartment.

While he showers, Gil Bellows shows his butt in an overhead shot

The Critics Vote ...

The People Vote ...

The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, this is a C+.

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