Moving Pictures
Feb 20, 2023, 06:29AM

Cherry Fantasy

The bizarre morals of the MPAA confronted in Cherry Falls (2000).

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Anyone bemoaning the lack of sex scenes in popular American movies should know they have an abundance of deranged erotica waiting to be watched. I’m not talking about Roger Corman’s nurse films in the 1970s, or Women in Prison classics like The Big Bird Cage, or even the work of Adrian Lyne, who didn’t direct a single film in the 20 years between Unfaithful and Deep Water.

Cherry Falls, from 2000, is an interesting case: a meta-textual Scream cash-in where all the virgins in town are murdered rather than the other way around. A familiar set of characters—copied almost directly from Scream—quickly figure out the killer’s M.O. and get to work getting laid. Cherry Falls calls the bluff of the MPAA and its own uniquely backwards morality by spending as much time on the discussion of virginity and sex as gory kills and zero sex scenes. Cherry Falls was never picked up for theatrical distribution in the United States, although it had a predictably successful run in many European territories. USA Films produced it, and eventually telecast it on USA, making it the most expensive TV movie ever ($14 million) by technicality.

Brittany Murphy, Jay Mohr, Michael Biehn, Candy Clark, Jesse Bradford, and Mark (Pecker) Joy star in Cherry Falls, a movie where the cops, teachers, and parents argue in blunt language about what to do about their kids’ virginity, and the kids stage a mass orgy at the end more out of fear than horniness. The funniest part of this whole sequence is how all the girls are coming on to the guys, laying it on really thick, and they all have steam coming out of their ears, unsure what to do (even among a sea of naked bodies). There’s no doubt that the MPAA refused to give this any rating at all because it so directly confronts both the hyper sexuality of the late-1990s and 2000s and the bizarre, incongruous morals of American cinema of the 1980s through the mid-2010s. It’s not a particularly remarkable movie, but worth watching for its premise alone. Any movie with a premise this bizarre should extend it as far as Cherry Falls.

—Follow Nicky Smith on Twitter: @nickyotissmith


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