Omy Clark (Ele Keats) is an aspiring journalist who wants to work with the world famous videographer, Flynn Dailey (Brian Wimmer). When she shows up at Flynn’s studio and marvels at how much power the filmed image can wield, Flynn blows her off. While Flynn is busy ignoring Omy, Lily Miller (Sandahl Bergman) drops by and tries to hire Flynn to film her and her husband, Raymond (Terry O’Quinn), making love. When Flynn heads out to the Miller residence, Omy tags along as an uninvited guest. She happens to have a tiny camera that she stole from her best friend, Joule (Corey Feldman, sporting a beard and a beret). Omy plants the camera in Lily’s bedroom. Later, when Flynn, Omy, and Joule all return to the Miller house to retrieve the tiny camera, they discover that Lily has been murdered and that Raymond is a communist war criminal who fled East Germany following the collapse of the Berlin Wall.
Lipstick Camera has an intriguing premise and, even in 1994, it was trying to say something about media manipulation and what is today referred to as being “fake news.” You could say that it was a film that was ahead of its time. You could also say that it’s a complete mess or that it’s an erotic thriller that is neither erotic nor thrilling and you would be just as correct. The main problem with the film is that almost every plot development is set in motion by Omy being either extremely self-absorbed or extremely stupid. When she’s not manipulating Joule (who is not too secretly in love with her), she’s stalking Flynn and carelessly losing an expensive camera that didn’t even belong to her in the first place. And she, of course, is meant to be our hero!
In the 90s, former teen idol Corey Feldman was one of the mainstays of late night Cinemax. Even during his Cinemax years, Feldman would occasionally give a good performance. Lipstick Camera was not one of those occasions. In Lipstick Camera, Feldman wears a beard and a beret and spends a lot of time in a room that’s full of computer monitors and TV screens and that’s the extent of his characterization. He does get a dramatic death scene, in which Joule appears to be determined to stave off the grim reaper by giving a monologue of Shakespearean proportions but otherwise, this is Corey Feldman at his worst. Faring slightly better is Terry O’Quinn, who, at least, gets to deliver his lines in a light German accent.
With its focus on the media and communist war criminals, Lipstick Camera is an example of a direct-to-video film that tried to be about something more than just sex and murder. (Though, this being a DTV film, there is one brief sex scene that takes place in front of a TV that’s showing a video of a fireplace.) Unfortunately, nobody involved seems to know what that something was supposed to be.