This is stylish smut, to be sure, but if you have a taste for Zalman King’s brand of it, then you’ll surely appreciate it.
A teenager takes a job at a bordello in the late 1950’s to support herself.
It’s the late 1950’s, and Blue (Nina Siemaszko) is a wistful teenager living on the cusp of vagrancy with her junkie father (Tom Skerritt) who supports their fragile lifestyle by driving from one town to the next across the country, taking little gigs at nightclubs and bars where his skills as a jazz musician (the trumpet) are just enough to sustain them. When they stop at a town in California somewhere, her father is going through severe withdrawals, and in order to get him his fix, Blue sells her virginity to a dealer, which breaks her father’s heart, leading to his overdose the next night. Left without a means to support herself, Blue is ushered into the illicit world of high class prostitution, thanks to an invitation from a savvy madam (played by Wendy Hughes) who senses that Blue will bring in a windfall of cash and high paying clients who will just love having young Blue as their belle de jour. Once Blue is initiated, she’s off to the races, experiencing sex in ways she never could’ve imagined, but the life is also very dangerous, as one client – a senator (played by Christopher McDonald) – pushes her limits and demands deviant acts on camera alongside some of his friends. Luckily, Blue has a protector in the bordello’s enforcer (played by Robert Davi), who becomes a surrogate father figure to her, and never a lover. She and he take it on the lam, trying to escape the sordid life, but when she falls for a local boy when she tries giving high school a try, things get complicated when her past catches up to her and the boy (played by Brent Faser) finds out that she is a prostitute.
Unrelated to Wild Orchid, but from the same filmmaker Zalman King, Two Shades of Blue (or Blue Movie Blue, depending on the source) is virtually the same movie as Paprika by Tinto Brass, but more serious in tone and a borderline thriller with its edgy violence and stylish tension. Siemaszko grew on me as the film went along; at first I didn’t think she’d be able to carry the film with her baby face and lack of screen presence, but by the end of the film she’d earned being the star with her nervy performance, particularly when she goes full-tilt femme fatale on one of her customers whom she can’t stand. The scene is pretty great, and she goes all-in with the nudity and whatever director King required of her for the film. King’s typically taboo style mesh well with a unique color pallet in the film (lots of purples and blues, plus oodles of shading and shadowy over lighting), and George S. Clinton’s smoky, jazzy score nicely compliments the film. This is stylish smut, to be sure, but if you have a taste for Zalman King’s brand of it, then you’ll surely appreciate it. Obviously, he had a thing for blondes (he even made Sherilyn Fenn a platinum in Two Moon Junction), and Siemaszko falls right into line with that tradition.
Scorpion’s recent Blu-ray release of Wild Orchid 2 is presented in a nice high definition transfer, and includes only the “R”-rated theatrical cut. However, the disc also includes almost five minutes of unrated footage cut from the film, and one of those cut scenes helps explain a plot development I was confused about in the theatrical version, so I appreciate that these scenes are included as a bonus feature. If I’m not mistaken, the only way to watch the film with the unrated footage is to watch the Unrated Version of the VHS. Also included on this disc are some trailers.