‘Sliver’ may be sexier in unrated version, but isn’t much better

[rating=2]Starring: Sharon Stone, William Baldwin, Tom Berenger, Martin Landau
Director(s): Phillip Noyce
Writer(s): Screenplay by Joe Eszterhas; based upon the novel by Ira Levin

Sharon Stone stars in 'Sliver'
Sharon Stone stars in ‘Sliver’

I suppose it’s related to the impending release of Sharon Stone’s return to the character that made her famous, Basic Instinct 2, that prompted the release of this DVD, but I can say right now they should have just left well enough alone. Watching Sliver was a reminder of the excess that Hollywood had gone to with its brief fascination with erotic thrillers — a fascination led largely by screenwriter Joe Eszterhas.

Although I’d only seen bits and pieces of Sliver in the past, I was curious enough to take a look at this unrated version of the film. The rise and fall of Eszterhas is a classic true Hollywood story, so I figured I’d sacrifice an hour and a half of my life to see one of his films. It’s not considered his best, but how exactly do you top such works of art like Basic Instinct and Showgirls?

Stone headlines this film as book editor Carly Norris, her first film to follow the leg-spreading success of Basic Instinct. This time around she’s more of an innocent beauty caught up in a passionate relationship with a mysterious young man, Zeke (William Baldwin). She meets him after moving into a fancy apartment building in Manhattan, but soon discovers that the apartment’s former occupant had committed suicide and looked a lot like her. When it is suggested that the woman may have actually been murdered, Carly begins to suspect everyone, including a cocky writer (Tom Berenger) and her lover, Zeke.

The film itself suffered from a few rewrites, including several different endings, but it’s the over-the-top sexuality of the film that gets a tad old. There isn’t very much nudity, just a flash or two from Stone, so don’t look for much in this “unrated” version. The ending, at least the one they eventually settled on, is also pretty lame. Regardless of whether or not Eszterhas liked the final version of Sliver, the film has clear markers of his touch, most notably with the undersexed co-worker, Judy (Colleen Camp), who repeatedly barrages Carly with direct inquires about her sex life.

Sliver is really more bizarre than interesting. When Carly discovers that Zeke has wired each apartment with cameras, she simply accepts it. Why? Because she’s horny and he’s good in bed. I suppose that’s not the worst reason in the world, but at the same time it’s pretty pathetic. There are no likeable or even sympathetic people to be found here, another Eszterhas trait. This film was really an attempt to capitalize on Stone’s image as a sexy vixen, but the schtick ended up getting old rather quickly. Of course, times changed during the 1990s and these kinds of sexually charged films quickly grew out of favor in Hollywood.

Aside from being “unrated”, which really doesn’t mean much, this DVD surprisingly include no extras. I mean, none. Not a trailer or even a single lame making-of featurette. I was a little surprised by that, but at the same time, why would Paramount bother spending any more money for a film that wasn’t much of a success in the first place. Sliver is really only interesting as being one of the last in Hollywood’s brief flirtation with erotic thrillers. And while I have nothing against erotic, most of these films weren’t terribly interesting beyond their sexual natures.Sliver is a good example of that.

Rated: N/A
Run Time: 1 hr., 48 mins.

Michael Sheridan

Michael Sheridan has written, directed and produced more than a dozen short films under the banner of Maynard Films, and has worked as a writer for more than a decade for websites, magazines and newspapers.

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