Twisted Obsession (1990) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Twisted Obsession is also known as El Sueño del mono loco, "The dream of the mad monkey". The Spanish title probably makes more sense, because if insane monkeys dream, their dreams are probably something like this film, although probably lighted better. It's a difficult film for me to relate to, because my most recent monkey ancestors are at least three generations back, and they were all perfectly sane monkeys.

Well, except on my mother's side of the family.

Jeff Goldblum plays a newly-divorced screenwriter who gets locked into a project by a young wunderkind filmmaker and his seductive sister. Goldblum wants out of the project until the sister starts providing him with some oral gratification. Goldblum just hangs around for the blowjobs for a while, but then he becomes obsessed with the sister, and tries to figure out why she has chosen a life as her brother's designated seductress. He never does find out. At one point, he chases her through traffic, and almost dies in an accident. By the time he leaves the hospital, she's gone and nobody knows where, including her distraught brother.

Goldblum's search for her leads him all the way to the Paris morgue. Apparently, he is being led through that morgue in a group, on one of those "walking tours of underground Paris", and some of the other people on the tour are making out, or giggling at the genitals of corpses. Apparently, the Parisians keep all the best corpses in a giant vat of formaldehyde, from which they have to be retrieved with fishing gaffs.

Meanwhile, in some assorted sub-plots, Goldblum's agent (Miranda Richardson) seems to be in a wheelchair which she may not need, ala Guy Caballero on SCTV, and Goldblum's toddler son keeps sinking deeper and deeper into a world of silence until the ex-wife comes along to re-claim him. Or something like that. I may have some of those details wrong, because I kept reaching for the remote, and the blessed FF button.

The main plot is confusing and uninvolving and probably unhealthy. Some sub-plots are marginally relevant and others are left completely unresolved and unexplained. If not for the presence of real actors like Jeff Goldblum and Miranda Richardson, you would swear you are watching an underground film made by some druggies in Washington Square with twenty five bucks and some stolen equipment they bought from a guy with too many body piercings who sells electronics out of the the back of an old van.

Even with the worst movies, I can generally find something I like - the cinematography, the nudity, whatever. If the movie is bad enough, it is at least good for some laughs. Not this one. It's confusing, excessively arty, pointless, and morbid. Jeff Goldblum does way too much voice-over narration, which was probably added after the fact, because the film would be incomprehensible without it. The only home media available is a full screen out-of-print VHS which is so artlessly cropped that the entire movie seems like an endless series of facial close-ups. It's just a total misfire.

The nudity is also disappointing - see the nudity report to the right.


Liza Walker's breast are visible when she is a corpse, as she floats around in a murky liquid

There is a scene which purports to show a close-up of her shaved crotch. This may or may not be her, and it may or may not be a prosthetic. No face is visible, and the camera does not make a smooth pan to the crotch. It goes from her face to Goldblum's face to the alleged crotch.

out of print on VHS. never released on DVD

This movie was written and directed by Fernando Trueba. I don't know what he could have been thinking of with this flop, because he is a very talented man. Do Trueba a favor and don't watch this. He has directed two excellent Spanish language films that I really like: The Girl of Your Dreams and Belle époque. See those instead.

The Critics Vote

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The People Vote ...

  • IMDB lists no other theatrical release besides a brief one in Spain.
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. 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 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 film is an F as seen in the poorly-cropped "pan & scan" VHS tape. Even with a beautiful widescreen DVD it could be no higher than a D. I kept fast forwarding and it still seemed like it lasted for days.

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