Olivia (1983)

Rating: C-

Dir: Ulli Lommel
Star: Suzanna Love, Robert Walker Jr., Jeff Winchester, Bibbe Hansen
a.k.a. Double Jeopardy or Prozzie

While Lommel’s reputation is as a bottom of the barrel director, this is sometimes touted as being among his best works. If that’s the case, then it confirms the correctness of my decision to give his work a wide berth where possible. The only other entry in his filmography I recall seeing is Revenge of the Stolen Stars, which I was obliged to watch as part of Project Kinski, and could be the worst film Klaus ever made. This time, the obligation was as a result of the Arizona setting. He apparently visited London Bridge on Lake Havasu while scouting locations for Boogeyman II, and was inspired by the oddness of the relocated structure to come up with a feature that made use of the place.

It stars Lommel’s wife Love, whose interesting life included being a Dupont heiress and heroin addiction, even before becoming an actress. She plays Olivia, who at the age of five saw her prostitute mother (Hansen) murdered by a client. Fifteen years later, she’s still traumatised by the event, haunted by her dead mom, and stuck in a marriage to the boorish Richard (Winchester). This causes her to dress up as a hooker, pick up men and kill them. She briefly finds happiness in the arms of Michael Grant (Walker), an American engineer working on plans for London Bridge, still at that point in the UK. This lasts until Richard finds out: he gets tossed over the bridge parapet, and Olivia vanishes.

Years pass, with the bridge now in Arizona, as is Richard. There, he sees “Jenny,” who happens to bear a striking resemblance to Olivia. Not least that they both can open beer-bottles with their teeth (a talent I’d say was more off-putting for a lover, in a “not sticking my dick in that” kinda way). They recommence a relationship, though it doesn’t take a psychic to figure out this will not end well for anyone. Especially after Richard shows up in Lake Havasu City, seeking to resume his marriage to Olivia. All of this is far less exciting than it sounds, since it unfolds at an almost impressively turgid pace from the first time we see adult Olivia, going through what must be the least convincing job interview ever.

It is odd, seeing Arizona stand in for London on occasion, since the early stages take place before the bridge was supposedly moved. These scenes are all at night, since London is not known for its desert landscapes. Love’s performance is all over the place, though given the same could be said for Olivia’s sanity, it’s not inappropriate. She’s still better than the blandly unappealing Walker, and Winchester in particular, who seems to have appeared in no other features. This does include what may be the first death by electric toothbrush impalement in cinema history. I guess Lommel liked it, since when he got to make Boogeyman II, it has the second.