Franklyn Carlysle (William Katt) is a fine, upstanding city councilman, with a rich wife (Wendy MacDonald) and a bright future. Carlysle wants to be mayor and he’s come up with the perfect scheme. He’s going to work with a developer to renovate Dante’s Square, the city’s notorious red light district.
One night, while Franklyn is driving through Dante’s Square, he’s carjacked. Someone knocks him out before stealing both his car and his wallet. When Franklyn comes to, he discovers that he’s being watched over by Sam Silver (played by Rick Dean). Sam is apparently a homeless philosopher, who tells Franklyn that he’s been taking life too seriously and that sometimes, you just have to yell, “Fuck this shit!” at the top of your lungs. When Franklyn asks where he can find a phone so he can call the cops, Sam leads Franklyn to the Yin Yang Club. It’s there that Franklyn sees Lynne (Maria Ford), a dancer to whom he is immediately attracted. Suddenly, his missing car and his stolen wallet no longer seem that important. With his marriage already in trouble, Franklyn returns to the club the next night.
Franklyn soon discovers that Lynne has a thing for being choked during sex. Even though Sam keeps telling him things like, “Nothing wrong with the dark – you spend half your life in it – trouble is, most people keep their eyes closed,” Franklyn is worried that his affair with Lynne will derail his mayoral ambitions. However, when Lynne shows up dead, Franklyn finds himself dealing with a much bigger problem. He’s now the number one suspect in her murder. Things just get stranger as Franklyn discovers that he wasn’t the only one cheating, meets a masked, gun-wielding stripper, and discovers that Sam might not even be of this world.
It can be said, without fear of hyperbole, that Naked Obsession in the Citizen Kane of Roger Corman-Produced Straight-To-Video Maria Ford-Stripper movies. This is largely due to the performance of the late, great Rick Dean in the role of Sam. Sam’s not just just a homeless drunk with a motormouth. As played by Dean, he’s a philosopher king and, the film hints, much more. He comes across like an angel of the devil and he’s exactly what Franklyn Carlysle needs to liven up his too safe life. Maria Ford, who specialized in playing troubled strippers in Roger Corman films, gives one of her best performances and, in the role of Franklyn’s secretary, Elena Sahagun, has some great scenes too. Finally, William Katt classes up the joint, giving a real performance as Franklyn instead of just sleepwalking through the film. Dan Golden’s direction emphasizes the surreal and, by the time the end credits roll, Naked Obsession will leave you wanting to spend a night or two at Dante’s Square.
Like so many classic films from the golden age of late night Cinemax. Naked Obsession has never been released on DVD or Blu-ray but it can be found on YouTube.