Two Moon Junction

January 30, 2012

When the carnival comes to town, watch out. This arena for distortion and exoticism is a great temptation for literary and cinematic characters, who are lured away from their dull everyday existence into a world of danger and mystery.

This is exactly what happens to the heroine of Two Moon Junction, a respectable, beautiful young Southern heiress scheduled for marriage to an equally proper young man from the right family. Then she claps her eyes on the young stud who runs the amusement rides at the carnival, and suddenly she’s acting mighty peculiar.

Having been scintillated by his hulking maleness, she can’t quite concentrate on the upcoming marriage. When the odd couple finally get together for some serious necking, it’s instant passion on both sides. He can’t offer her money or stability or even coherent conversation, but he is, shall we say, effective.

The movie is made up of some heavy-breathing bodice-ripping scenes, interspersed with the conventional stuff about the decision she has to make: safety or adventure? A good deal of this is ludicrous, some of it is rather fun, and some of it is just plain loopy. The loopiness extends to the casting of the supporting roles, which include a bizarre cameo by Kristy McNichol (as a cowgirl who likes taking her shirt off) and a collection of dusty relics taken down from the shelf: Burl Ives, Millie Perkins, Louise Fletcher, Herve Villechaize.

The leads are more appealing. Sherilyn Fenn plays the belle, looking a lot like Madonna in her plantinum-hair/black-eyebrows phase. Fenn looks dazed much of the time, perhaps incredulous at the plot, but she is pretty and uninhibited. The carny is played by Richard Tyson, who looks like Jim Morrison and is convincingly brutish and untamed.

Two Moon Junction is the work of writer-director Zalman King, who used to be a TV actor and recently produced the sexual odyssey 9 ½ Weeks. King unmistakably wants to say some serious things with his hothouse story, but it’s most successful as a crazy, bubble-headed film exploitation. It should very effectively break the ice for couples on a first date.

First published in the Herald, April 1988

Once seen, never forgotten, I suppose. According to IMDb, this is not only the directing debut of the decidedly non-flaccid Zalman King, but also the acting bow of Milla Jovovich. That peculiar cast also includes Juanita Moore, Don “Ironside” Galloway (whose final film credit was for Gregg Araki’s Doom Generation), and Martin Hewitt.