VHS Vednesday: Hot Child in the City
HOT CHILD IN THE CITY (1987). Directed by John Florea. Starring Leah Ayres, Shari Shattuck, and Antony Alda.
And we bring Shari Shattuck month to a close with another of her B-movie offerings: The 1987 thriller Hot Child in the City.
A time capsule of '80s decadence, Hot Child in the City takes a look at the glamorous yet seedy world of the music industry--a look which, we may safely assume, bears no resemblance to the actual music industry. It begins with successful record executive Abby Wagner (Shari Shattuck) telling off washed-up rocker Charon (Antony Alda, Alan's younger half-brother) over his disappointing video. The tense scene is interrupted by the arrival of Abby's sister Rachel (Leah Ayres), the prototypical wide-eyed innocent small-town girl. After dismissing Charon, Abby brings her sister home and introduces her to the high-living ways of L.A., taking her out for a night on the town to a flashy nightclub. Later on, however, the fun and games come to an end when Abby turns up murdered. Determined to find her sister's killer, Rachel delves into the seamy underside of Abby's world, while simultaneously becoming close to the investigating detective (Geof Pryssir).
As a mystery, Hot Child in the City isn't terribly effective--the small cast has only three real suspects, one of whom is the classic "so suspicious he couldn't possibly be the killer" red herring. It's best appreciated for its dated interpretation of '80s glitz--director John Florea, over 70 at the time, didn't really seem to get the new wave/disco scene, but his visual sense (he was best known as a photographer before establishing himself as a television director) is strong enough to carry it off. And the soundtrack (as touted on the poster and video box cover) is filled with great tunes--in addition to the Nick Gilder track from which it takes its title, there's also Billy Idol's "Eyes Without a Face" and "Flesh for Fantasy," Lou Reed's "Walk on the Wild Side," and Fun Boy Three's cover of "Our Lips Are Sealed," among others.
Who's Leaving This Off Their Resume?
The performances are generally good (even when some of the dialogue becomes laughable). Leah Ayres is convincing in both the "naive innocent" and "determined avenger" aspects of her role, and the sisterly camaraderie between Ayres and Shattuck is believable. The weakest portrayal comes from Antony Alda as the stereotypical flashy, bisexual rocker--he frequently goes WAY over the top. Shattuck's party-girl characterization also occasionally falls prey to exaggeration, but she manages to counteract it with quieter, truer moments.