Film Review

The VHS Files: Conundrum aka Frame By Frame

So here’s a fun idea (I hope)… I have hundreds of unwatched, obscure VHS tapes ive collected over the years and I’ve recently organized them, fired up the VCR and begun to explore the darkest corners of Z-Grade 70’s, 80’s and 90’s analog nirvana, so I’ll do a series of intermittent reviews based on these random, unheard of treasures with a snapshot of the tape itself, just for fun. First up is one called Frame By Frame, which I guess is officially called Conundrum on IMDb. It stars Michael Biehn and Marg Helgenberger as two inner city cops who begin to have a fiery affair amidst the aftermath of gangland killings stirred up by a Chinese crime syndicate. His family is murdered to set an example, this event brings them closer as she comforts him but before you know it other nasty secrets are unleashed and the classic obligatory ‘web of deceit, betrayal, twists and kinky obsession’ of the essential 80’s B movie potboiler is set into motion. Biehn and Helgenberger are perfect for each other, and on top of being two of the absolute sexiest cult icons of their day, they actually turn this run of the mill script into something fun thanks to their vivid characterizations. He’s as wild eyed and frantic as he was in Terminator and even gets one sly ‘big emotion’ scene that takes on new meaning once all the twists unfold, and she does this tough girl tomboy thing with her accent and mannerisms that’s fun too. The story kind of goes wildly all over the place and I didn’t quite follow every hairpin turn or believe in this brand of convolution but hey, it’s an ancient DTV flick and half the fun is watching these two stars rip snort their way through the hard boiled narrative anyways. I’m fairly sure I may be the only person to have ever seen this film because the tape I have is one of those promotional screeners that aren’t for resale (but they always are anyways), there are positively zero user reviews on IMDb or even critics reviews out there elsewhere on the interwebs and one can barely find traces of its existence at all beyond the tape I have. Good times though, especially if you love Biehn and Marg as much as this viewer.

-Nate Hill

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