Customer Reviews: Bad Influence
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on December 12, 2002
1990's *Bad Influence* provides the film-fan a chance to see what director Curtis Hanson and screenwriter David Koepp were capable of when they had to actually work for a living. (Later "success" for each has borne bitter fruit -- for the aforesaid film-fan, of course: Hanson now makes Eminem movies; Koepp just scripted *Spider-Man*. Enough said.) Hanson's previous film, *The Bedroom Window*, was mostly a by-the-numbers Hitchcock, albeit brilliant, with SHADES of novelist Patricia Highsmith's nastiness. . . . Here, Hanson & Co. veer directly into Highsmith's dark waters, and the result is just smashing. Of course it goes without saying that James Spader's "meek" corporate analyst is never all that innocent to begin with (just like any "hero" in a Highsmith novel, or in any film noir worth its pinch of salt); the fun is in watching HOW the layers of hypocrisy get stripped away, one by one. Hanson's ironical conceit is to have the movie's villain (Rob Lowe) proudly believe that HE'S the one responsible for the Yuppie's corruption. The movie's really about the tragedy of a psychopath. Lowe's wicked drifter is a pretty lonely guy, after all: he wants a friend! Women are his source of income, and can't be an option in terms of an intimate relationship. He meets the yuppie at a beach bar: Spader finds himself in trouble with a 900-lbs gorilla; Lowe extricates him from the trouble by threatening to cut the gorilla's throat with a jagged bottleneck. Of course, he also helps himself to Spader's unattended wallet . . . but once Spader runs into him the next day, Lowe allows himself to befriend the yuppie. With a sort of proud-father generosity, he initiates Spader into the world of L.A.'s underground bars, designer drugs, and decadent call girls. It eventually degenerates into a spree of cheap thrills that include hold-ups of the local burger joints and liquor stores. Hey -- it's Boys Night Out! What's the use of a life, even a criminal one, without no one to share it with? Unfortunately, All Good Things Must Come To An End: Lowe overreaches, and the blood-brothers become antagonists. After the bitter break-up, Lowe behaves petulantly, appropriating Spader's home furnishings like a divorcee in a bitter lawsuit. It's all great, campy fun, with the added bonus of some real menace -- and generous whiffs of decadence from the deepest pits -- thrown in to keep you riveted. The movie's centerpiece is the videotaped murder of a woman: the tape shows the murder occurring off-camera in Spader's bedroom. Horrified, Spader runs to his bedroom . . . to find the door nailed shut! This may be the only case in a movie of suspense being generated by something that has ALREADY HAPPENED. Ingenious! Final thought: I'd wager that aspiring novelist Chuck Paluhnik (sp?) caught this movie one night on HBO or something years ago and was subsequently inspired to write *Fight Club*, a novel (and, later, movie) whose parasitic-friendship theme is suspiciously similar to what's presented here. Bad influence, indeed.
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on March 20, 2002
James Spader finds out, as his "Michael Boll" meets a unexpectedly dangerous stranger, played by a convincingly sinister Rob Lowe, in this Curtis Hanson outing.

Michael is a young, handsome 9-5 sort of guy. His life is dominated by his fiance, played by Marcia Cross. He is also being backstabbed by a co-worker named Patterson, who Michael is too meek to stop. He is also saddled with a deadbeat brother who mocks his "Yuppie" lifestyle, while reaping the financial benefits. Life changes as Michael goes from meek, to "Mick" after tutelage from a mysterious stranger that saves him from a decking in a bar, enter Rob Lowe in his finest role to date. Spader's Michael is impressed by Lowe from the start. A friendship forms as Lowe takes an interest in Michael, introducing him to underground clubs, loose women, drugs, drink, and general depravity. He seems at first to be fun, and a breath of fresh air from the oppression he's been living under. As time goes on though, the picture gets more complicated. Lowe slowly reveals himself to be twisted and dangerous. Unfortunately for "Mick", (as Lowe re-names his protege), he is in way over his head, and may not be able to escape Lowe's inexplicably sadistic, increasing wrath toward him.

Spader and Lowe give wonderful performances here. I make a point of seeing ALL films with Spader, because he is one of my favorite actors. He plays the hapless victim here so soft and sympathetically, until he takes action, as Lowe has mentored him to do. Lowe creates a terrific noir mood with his character. His menacing escalates to a feverish pitch, and this will keep you on the edge of your seat waiting for the outcome.

Speaking of the outcome, it's a bit too convoluted, and probably the only flaw in the film. Michael's paranoid pothead brother, "Pismo" as in beach, or "Gizmo" as in "Gremlins" (I'm not sure), helps Michael in his quest to put an end to Lowes cruel games. The dude can't abandon his bong long enough to get a job, and he's too paranoid to leave the house, yet he's a darn good sidekick in the fight against evil, PLEASE!! Still, "Bad Influence" is one great suspense thriller that will keep your interest from start to finish. Don't miss this exciting entry in the extensive filmographies of Spader and Lowe.
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on August 16, 2006
I had never heard of this film before, or maybe I did in passing but never paid any attention to it. I recently picked it up at a video store and have already watched it twice. Lowe is definitely convincing in his role as a bad guy, and him and Spader definitely complement each other in this movie, even though they are opposing forces. A definite must see!
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on May 27, 2004
Check out friends around you, you may end up with a psycho like Alex (played by Rob Lowe). What he does in the movie is quite impressive and psychotic, especially a dirty trick like breaking a tail light and pulling the broken bulb into a fuel tank. If you hit the brake pedal, OOPS! In general, I like the story, I like the casting. Very good performance from both James Spader (as Michael) and Rob Lowe (as Alex). Does Alex do it on purpose to screw up Michael's life? I don't think so. Alex gives Michael what he wants (gals, job promotion), Alex eliminates what Michael's afraid of (getting married). But Michael pisses Alex off and wants him out of his life. Of course Alex rampages, revenges, and takes back everything he gave to Michael. I don't find the movie is too exaggerated; in contrast, I'm convinced that it could happen to anyone of us anytime anywhere. Who knows?
About the DVD, it's a double-sided disc. One side is the 16:9 widescreen format, and the other side is the standard 4:3 format. Quite obvious, it is lacking of extra features. It only comes with subtitles and theatrical trailer. Overall, movie is good but features are short.
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on June 1, 2001
A movie that keeps you in suspense from it's very beginning deserves to be calle "excellent" Rob Lowe's magnificent performance as a charismatic player is so convincing you may notice at the end that you have not even moved while watching it... James Spader's roll as a decent hard working proffesional who innocently finds himself, suddenly involved in a homicide case, is terrific as well. Love, sex, passion, hate...and even murder are perfectly combined in this movie...Highly reccomended...
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VINE VOICEon January 10, 2013
Flaws and all, this is one classic film, something for the time capsule. It's got it ALL, baby.

Let's start with Rob Lowe. Jerry McGuire he ain't. You're never going to see Rob with tears streaming down his cheeks, telling a woman that she "completes" him. Rather, you're more likely to find him yanking his clothes out of the closet, pulling out any photos that include him, stuffing it all in a duffel bag and hurling it into a garbage truck as he leaves the former object of his desire alone and naked in bed...just like the opening minutes of "Bad Influence."

And yes, I know Rob has taken some "serious" roles and has played the "good guy" on occasion, but my challenge to you is "NAME one of those roles." I remembered them at the time, and I've forgotten them, pretty much like every other Rob Lowe fan on the planet. We want Evil Rob, and this movie is Pure Evil Rob.

I won't offer any spoilers here, but let's just say that if you can't see the major plot twist coming from a mile away, you haven't seen too many movies.

James Spader seems like an odd choice to play Lowe's "good" doppelganger, the guy who becomes corrupted as Rob introduces him to his own wants and desires. Spader's starred in more than his fair share of "this guy makes me feel kind of squirmy" roles. Of course, the only way the corruption of the character's "innocence" can appear real is that if it's built on shaky foundations to begin with, and Spader nails it. His character is a "career guy," a "ladder climber," engaged to Marcia Cross, who equally nails the boring, white bread, "why am I marrying this woman" object of Spader's luke-warm desire. See, Spader really doesn't want the pot of gold at the end of his rainbow. He wants to ride around in sporty little car with Evil Rob Lowe and do evil things. And he does. Why do you think the movie is named "Bad Influence" instead of "Two Nice Guys Helping Others?"

The soundtrack is lip-smackin' 80s dee-licious, too. Lots of synthy angst...a highlight being The Nymphs performing "The Highway" during Lowe and Spader's first venture into one of the sleazy "password at the door" clubs. According to the notes on the YouTube clip of this scene, "Inger Lorre wrote this song about Richard Ramirez, the "Night Stalker," and the groupies he attracted during his trial." Makes it a perfect choice for this movie.

I could go detail...but I'm keeping my "no spoilers" promise. You probably have a general idea of what this one is all about, and I've tried to convey the flavor without ruining the experience. I love it, I've watched it at least 100 times since its's a "midnight movie," it's sublime junk, it's a career high for Lowe. He plays his character with such oily, unrepentant glee that you envy anyone having that much fun and getting paid for it. BUY THIS ONE NOW!
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on May 24, 2016
Bad Influence is another in a long string of early 90s thrillers that got lost for some reason. Directed by Curtis Hanson its a very well made and entertaining thriller with great performances and
some solid suspense. Cant go wrong with James Spader and Rob Lowe chews up his scenery with a terrific psychotic performance. It also has a
unique premise too. Odds are you haven`t heard of this movie but its def worth checking out. Other excellent lost thrillers to check out are Blue Steel,
Internal Affairs (1990), Pacific Heights, Ricochet, Unlawful Entry, Copycat (the best serial killer movie ever made in my opinion), Trespass (1992) and Judgment Night.
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on February 16, 2016
Good premise, and Lowe does a good job of portraying a psychopath. Spader also acts well, though it stretches credulity that he can be such a wus in the beginning and such an effective killer at the end of the movie. One wonders whether or not the end is really the end, but maybe this was intended and there were some thoughts (at the time) of a sequel.
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on May 29, 2007
Saw this movie when it was originally released- shortly after the sex tape weirdness of the '88 Democratic convention; it was serenely ironic that at the precipice of career suicide by Lowe, he would in this film provide his best performance. Although recent work in West Wing & Brothers & Sisters has helped him reclaim a bit of appreciation, this character still resonates as a well-played, against type evildoer. A tight script, another high quality performance by Spader and an ecellent soundtrack all add to the guilty pleasure.
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on March 1, 2016
Film noir in color has always been harder to watch than in black and white and this is true of this film. It is classic classic noir with some of the same camera work and scenes like the long empty apartment/hotel wing hall.
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