Liz (Theresa Russell) is a prostitute trying to survive on the mean streets of Los Angeles. With the help of a homeless performance named Rasta (Antonio Fargas), Liz tries to escape from her abusive pimp, Blake (Benjamin Mouton).
To its credit, Whore was made as a response to the glamorous and irresponsible way that prostitution was portrayed in Pretty Woman but Whore had too much going against it to succeed. It was based on a theatrical monologue, which was almost always a bad sign. The majority of the movie was Liz talking straight to the camera, which was another red flag. Most ominously, it was a Theresa Russell movie that was not directed by Nicolas Roeg and those never seemed to turn out well. The director of Whore was Ken Russell but it featured none of the excess that Russell was known for. Stuck with a low-budget and a reportedly unenthusiastic studio, Russell’s direction was uncharacteristically restrained. (That’s a polite way of saying boring.)
The one good thing about Whore, and the reason why I’m writing about it during this site’s look back at Twin Peaks, was the presence of Jack Nance, playing one of the few men who actually tries to help Liz. Nance, of course, not only played fishing-obsessed Pete Martell in Twin Peaks but also starred in Eraserhead and appeared in all of Lynch’s films (with the exception of The Elephant Man) up until Nance’s mysterious death in 1996. Literally credited as playing “Helpful passerby.” Nance only had a few minutes of screen time but made a definite impression as one of the few kind people to be found in Liz’s dark world.
As a reflection of how much times have changed, Whore‘s title was so controversial that, in 1991, it was released in some areas under an alternative title: If You Can’t Say It, Just See It.