THEY’RE PLAYING WITH FIRE (1984) – Sybil Danning’s bod; everything else, bad
have what I call “The Adrienne Barbeau Theorem,” which is as follows: Big breasts, in and of themselves, are not enough reason to watch a terrible movie. Ironically, there are two movies that strongly test my theorem, and one of them is Adrienne Barbeau’s Swamp Thing (which see my review at this blog). The other is an abysmal ’80s slasher flick titled They’re Playing with Fire.
Sybil Danning plays an English professor (so much for realism) who seduces one of her young students (Eric Brown) in order to make him a patsy in a murder plot in which she’s involved.
Despite its familiar ring, this plotline is several generations (not to mention quality points) removed from Double Indemnity and its ilk. In fact, the movie’s slasher motif is so sordid, even for this genre, that it’s painful to watch. The movie would be deservedly forgotten, were it not for Danning’s astounding sex scenes.
These scenes, particularly the first one, are as jaw-dropping as anything you’re likely to see in a mainstream, R-rated movie. While not as anatomically graphic as your average porn video, Danning in the altogether amply displays enough, er, enthusiasm to get her point across. In fact, she’s so enthusiastic, you lose any sympathy for the kid she’s seducing. Here’s this gorgeous, buxom blonde twisting the night away on top of him, and he can’t think of anything better to do than *make conversation* with her! Obviously, the kid needs an education in more than English.
Other than the all-too-brief scenes in which Danning demonstrates why a date with her would fetch a small fortune on an auction block, the movie’s only element of interest is in seeing Alvy Moore (shown above, left). Moore, best known as bumbling Hooterville county agent Hank Kimball on TV’s “Green Acres,” here hits a career low as a gas-station manager who’s dumb enough to hire and re-hire the kid as an attendant even after he’s dumped the job on the promise of some loot from Danning’s English professor. The only thing that could have made this movie more bad-memorable would be to pair Danning with fluttery Hank Kimball: “Welcome to Hootersville, I mean Hooterville! Sorry, I was blinded by your headlights, I mean my car headlights. The car is strangely stacked, I mean built, I mean…”
Here’s a short trailer for the movie (minus, of course, Sybil Danning’s cinema-verite sex workout):