An Occasional Hell is one of countless cable TV crime melodramas that start to blur together if you’ve seen enough. They don’t often have high budgets, and as such usually only contain a few elements: a handful of actors, a murder mystery, deception, eroticism and very little in the way of fancy special effects. This one has a solid lead in Tom Berenger, who can make anything watchable, and great supporting players who pitch in as well. The story, or lack thereof, is where the problem arises. Berenger plays an ex cop and forensics wizard turned college professor, who is hired by sultry widow Valeria Golino (remember her from Hot Shots? Lol) to solve the murder of her husband and his hot young mistress (Kari Wuhrer), who has vanished. It turns out the mistress may have been involved with drug runners (random) the state troopers get involved and it’s all one big mess that neither Berenger nor the plot can seem to figure out. There’s a cynical lead Trooper played by a snarky, laid back Robert Davi, and other assorted people including Richard Edson, Ellen Greene, Geoffrey Lewis and a kooky Stephen Lang, who shows up in flashbacks as Golino’s eccentric civil war enthusiast husband. None of it makes all that much sense or seems to flow in a way that’s believable, but Berenger makes it somewhat worthwhile, as do that other players. Just below average stuff.
Sensation is a very erotic thriller that breathes hot, heavy and hard all over its audience, almost overpowering the murder mystery at it’s center with the large number of sex scenes throughout. It’s essentially trash, and wouldn’t be worth much of a mention if it weren’t for some great actors, and an opening score that sets an eerie mood the film hardly deserves. Eric Roberts is Dr. Ian Burton, a college teacher who is looking for people with vague psychic abilities, for some sort of research. Enter stunning Lila Reed (Kari Wuhrer), a student with the unique ability to experience an object or person’s past simply by physical contact. Roberts is in fact looking for the person who murdered his lover, unbeknownst to her, and jumps at the chance to use her talent for his investigation. Many suspects run about, there’s sex scenes between Roberts and Wuhrer, in which her abilities flash back to… even more sex scenes from the past, and it’s all a wee bit disorganized, but oh well. Ron Perlman, always welcome, shows up as a Detective who thinks he can crack the case, winding up in over his head as well. There’s also a bizarre and inexplicable cameo from a creepy Ed Begley Jr. who hassles Kari in a bar and runs off as quick as he showed up, never to be seen again. It’s sleazy late night cable fun, without much to go crazy over except the actors, and that score I mentioned. Oh and.. you know… all the naughty bits, of which there is an overload