'Hot Spot' tries to replace plot with nudity

Dennis Hopper, who directed "Hot Spot," was irritated with Don Johnson who, Hopper said, wouldn't lend himself to promotion of the film.

You can't blame Johnson. Promoting "Hot Spot" is a little like promoting passage on the Titanic.


The new film, a blend of "The Long Hot Summer" and "Double Indemnity," is terminally dull, a 130-minute long movie that should run no longer than 90 minutes.

Hopper, however, must have thought he was doing the great American epic here, so he takes his good time, and the audience pays.


Part of the problem is the story. By this time, good-looking drifters who wander into small Southern movie towns should know better. Whenever they do, they are usually accused of being barn burners. They also run into the good girl, the bad girl and the evil landowner.

The bad girl in "Hot Spot" is played by Virginia Madsen, with all stops out. The good girl is played by Jennifer Connelly who tries to give the role a little distinction but can't.

The music is one of the movie's more basic problems. It's an irritating jazz score, the kind Russ Meyer ("Beyond the Valley of the Dolls") used with his earlier films, which may be fitting, because "Hot Spot" plays like an old Meyer movie. Meyer, however, didn't show this much in his earlier films. Even those had standards.

"Hot Spot" has almost none. In time, the nudity becomes the film. The only thing missing is the volleyball.

There is a plot, and you'll have no trouble following it. The film is slow enough for anyone to grab it. The drifter, as played by Johnson, really is a burner. In this case, however, it is a building that serves as diversion as he robs the town bank. It is ridiculously easy, but then this is a ridiculously simple film, one you could watch for 20 minutes, leave, then return for the last 20. You wouldn't miss a thing, save for the nudity.

"Hot Spot" is showing at local theaters.

"Hot Spot"

* A drifter wanders into a small Southern town where he meets a good girl and a bad girl.


CAST: Don Johnson, Virginia Madsen, Jennifer Connelly, Charles Martin Smith, Barry Corbin

DIRECTOR: Dennis Hopper

RATING: R (nudity, violence, sex, language)

RUNNING TIME: 130 minutes