The Soft Kill (1994) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

The basic pleasures I get from working on this kind of a site are the same pleasures experienced by a researcher. Oh, I'm not going to tell you that I don't enjoy being able to watch lots of movies, because I love movies. How could I not and keep doing this site for nine years? And I certainly won't deny that I love looking at some of the most beautiful and famous naked chicks in the world. Of course I do, just as all of you do. And, in fact, I also get a lot of joy out of writing a good article. There is great satisfaction in that.

But the greatest moments, the ones I live for, occur when I can find some nude scene like Carroll Baker's deleted scenes in Baba Yaga. I sit there in front of the screen thinking how I can't wait to share this, because even Hef and his "Sex in the Cinema" writers have never seen this before, and don't know of its existence. That is my equivalent of an archeologist's joy at finding a new book of the Bible, or the kind of joy a historian feels (like that guy in Finland last week) when he finds forgotten film footage of Hitler sharing his candid thoughts.

I came pretty close to that joy with The Soft Kill. There is an explicit xxx fuck scene in this film which nobody has ever seen.

  • I know that Craig Hosoda, author of The Bare Facts, has not seen it, because he's thorough, and he lists all the nudity from Kim Morgan Greene (all possible body parts) and Carrie-Anne Moss (breasts) in this film, but he never mentions the wild scene with Michael Harris and Judith Ziehn.

  • I know that the CNDb guys have never seen this scene for the very same reason.

  • I know that the MPAA has certainly never seen this scene, because they sure as hell didn't give this cut an R with an erect penis and gaping spread shots, even though the action is pretty far from the camera.

In fact, I'm pretty sure that the people who mastered this DVD do not realize that this print does not match earlier video releases or the version the MPAA saw, because the box is clearly labeled R. The DVD guys don't realize this is an unrated version with an extra scene not seen in the R-rated version. I suppose the scene was simply cut from the film originally, and this DVD was remastered from some previously pristine source medium which hadn't ever been trimmed.

In terms of continuity, there was no problem in cutting the scene. It was perfectly gratuitous. Michael Harris plays a P.I. who used to be a cop. Harris is the world's horniest guy. The murderer knows that, so he sets up a murder to take place in the D.A.'s house after Harris has been boning the daylights out of the D.A.'s wife. Sweet frame, eh?

The scene in question has almost nothing to do with the plot, except peripherally. Harris is at a cemetery with his ex-partner. While the police officer pays his respects to his dead wife, Harris wanders off and hits on a nearby widow. Momentarily, we see the scene of Harris and the widow (Judith Ziehn) humping away in an assortment of positions that even the Kama Sutra didn't cover. At one point, the widow is on her back, Harris grabs one of her legs and flips her over with her legs spread as far apart as they can go, in the process turning her genitalia to the camera. A few seconds later, we see Harris thrusting into her from behind, activity which seems like pretty standard soft-core footage. The whole point of the scene was to establish that Harris will use any occasion as an excuse to get laid. The woman is never seen again in the film, and is not part of the murder plot.

But our subconscious minds tell us that there are two things wrong with this scene, and these thoughts translate immediately into words like these:

1. "This isn't supposed to be a softcore movie. It's a thriller. Carrie-Anne Moss is in this film, and her little daughter in the film is in a whole bunch of cutesy G-rated footage with Harris and Moss and little duckies."

2. "Holy shit - this isn't even SOFTcore. This isn't even simulated. This is the real deal!" When Harris pulls back after a thrust, we see something that we should not. His erect penis actually slips out of her and into full camera view!


I mentioned earlier that I came "pretty close" to the thrill of a great discovery. Why not all the way? Because nobody knows just who Judith Ziehn is. She is a cipher. She has no other credits at IMDb. A Google search unearths no other references to her besides her credit in this film. You can't even see who she is in this film. In the sex scene, you can see that she is a redhead with long hair, and that she has big breasts which are probably implants. But there is no good look at her face. In the cemetery, she is wearing dark glasses and is seen from quite a long distance.


It's a great sex scene between Ziehn and Harris, but the true identity of this woman is a total mystery.

On the other hand, if you happen to be a woman or a gay guy who finds Michael Harris particularly attractive, this film could be the thrill of your life, because you're gonna see ol' Captain Helmet, and you're gonna see him at attention and in battle.

Complete Spoilers Ahead

What about the movie?

Predictable, standard fare. Who framed Harris for the murder?  What about the evil D.A. whose wife was having an affair with Harris? What about Carrie-Anne Moss, who inherited half of a considerable fortune from the murdered woman, who was her sister? What about the gung-ho, by-the-books cop who really wants to pin the murder on Harris, because Harris was one of those renegade cops who broke the rules and didn't even fill out the paperwork? What about the ex-con who swore revenge on both Harris and the evil D.A. after they teamed up to send him up the river?

Nah! All of those are red herrings.

Look for the one guy Harris trusts, the guy you would least suspect. And then you can expect the callous, womanizing Harris to fall in love for the first time in his life. And then he'll have to risk his own life to rescue his true love and her daughter from the incredibly insane bad guy.

As I said, it's standard fare.


see the main commentary

The scriptwriter did make something which I considered to be a mistake. The guy Harris trusted steered Harris away from one spot in his house. Up until he did that, I had no idea who the murderer was, but once I saw that "forbidden" part of the home, I knew instantly where everything would lead. I figured that the guy's wife's death probably had something to do with her having sex with Harris, and that was probably also why Harris left the force. That wasn't exactly right, but wasn't very far from the explanation. In my judgment, there was no need to give away the hand like that, especially not as early in the film as that happened. 

I suppose you might also say the director and the casting director made a mistake. Once you see Brion James in a movie, can you expect anyone else to be the murderer? I know you don't recognize the name, but you know who Brion is. You remember him as Leon, the stupid, ugly replicant from Blade Runner. One look at him, and you know he did it. There's his sloping forehead, and his grotesque curved nose which precedes him into a room by a minute. There's his lumbering presence, his gruff grunts, and his befuddled scowl. I don't even know what the crime is, but I know he did it. If he's in a movie, there must be some crime for him to have committed.

DVD info from Amazon

  • no features

  • no widescreen

The Soft Kill would work much better if somebody unthreatening and likeable, like Matt Damon or Owen Wilson, had been cast as the crazy murdering cop. Both of those guys have been brilliant and chilling as psychotic murderers (in Mr Ripley and Minus Man respectively) simply because they seem to be such nice, sincere guys. But Brion? He looks scarier without makeup than Robert Englund looks after he's been transformed into Freddy Krueger. Let's face it, whatever unsolved crimes exist in the world ...  look no further. Brion probably committed them.

The Critics Vote ...

  • No major reviews onfile

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-. Predictable murder frame-up with all the standard movie stereotypes. Interesting only for Carrie-Anne Moss's first nudity, and for the crazy extra sex scene.

Return to the Movie House home page