The story concerns a small lingerie factory in downtown Los Angeles in the summer of 1987. The Mexican girls who work there start turning up dead in lingerie. Yeah, the title isn't even metaphoric or ironic in any sense. In the first instance of a weird mother theme that runs through the film, the mom of one of the dead girls asks a friend to have her private eye son check things out. Nick Marnes (John Romo) turns out to be one of the most ineffectual and least appealing private eyes in the history of cinema. He's much more concerned with hitting on the factory's lingerie designer, Molly Field (Maura Tierney), than in solving the murders. Despite Nick having all the charm of a wet steer suffering from Mad Cow Disease, Molly warms to him enough to ask him to have dinner with her family. She wants him there to be a shield against the guy her mom (June Lockhart) is trying to set her up with. That guy is played in the film by Ken Osmond, who was Eddie Haskel on Leave It To Beaver. Molly's dad is also played by Lyle Waggoner, the handsome dude from The Carol Burnett Show. Are you starting to get a whiff of how much this film stinks?
Nick is somehow able to get Molly into bed without using a date rape drug, which elevates this movie into the realm of science fiction, and eventually discovers who killed the Mexican girls. Well, he doesn't so much discover it as after providing no real clues to the killer's identify for the first 70 minutes of the movie, the script essentially erects a neon sign that spells out "killer" with an arrow pointed at a minor character who had been previously seen in the movie for about 98 seconds. Oh, and Dead Women in Lingerie also grinds to a complete halt on three different occasions so a character can lecture the audience about how unfair to illegal aliens was the amnesty signed into law by President Reagan in 1987. Since this movie was made in 1991, I can only guess that message was aimed at people with time machines, so they would travel back 4 years and try to fix the problem.
The only mildly interesting thing about this film is if you look at it like a window into the lower levels of the film industry. It's a sub-strata of Hollywood where people with talent, like Maura Tierney and Jerry Orbach, and people who used to have talent, like June Lockhart and Lyle Waggoner, rub up against people with no talent, like John Romo and Ken Osmond. Watching this movie, I felt a little like Diane Fossey from Gorillas In The Mist except some of the gorillas I was observing appeared to have been lobotomized.
It is hard to exaggerate, even for comedic effect, how worthless John Romo is as an actor and a writer. As a performer, he's like an accountant who gets on stage during open mic night at The Chuckle Hut. His material is awful, his delivery is even worse and he never gets any better no matter how many times he does it. As a scripter, Romo demonstrates that he can't handle a narrative more complicated than "Jack and Jill went up the hill".
Director/co-writer Erica Fox can't be left out of this autopsy. The scenes in this movie are poorly staged, poorly lit, go on too long and are filled with laughably pretentious camera movements that prove Hill had no idea how horrible this thing was. She's also got to share the blame for filling up the screen with characters that serve no Earthly purpose and filling the air with dialog that wouldn't have been good enough to make it on a Bazooka Joe gum wrapper.
I must also sadly report that Tierney flashes a bare boob in this cinematic puddle of komodo dragon diarrhea. Now, I don't think there's anyone out there who would enjoy gazing on Tierney's breasts more than I, but it's profoundly pitiful that she had to expose one of them in something so unworthy of her beauty and talent. It's like hanging a painting by Da Vinci in one of those porno shop booths where guys go to pleasure themselves while staring at single mothers standing naked behind the glass. Maybe Tierney's enough of an exhibitionist that it didn't bother her. It does bother me.
Let me be clear. Though the title of this thing is Dead Woman In Lingerie, it is NOT a parody of bad erotic thrillers. Though Maura Tierney bares half her bosom, it is NOT worth watching. If you go out and rent this thing after reading this review, you deserve to be shot in the head with an air-powered bolt gun by that guy with the hippie Moe haircut from No Country For Old Men. Don't think I won't tell him where you live.