When participated in ET – The Extraterrestrial in 1982, one of the most beloved films in the history of cinema, the then small and cute Drew Barrymore would enter the annals of the seventh art as one of the child sensations of the 80s. Today, she is one of the greatest examples of careers started in childhood that worked. An established Hollywood star, owner of numerous hits and even owner of her own film production company (which retains the rights to franchises such as The Panthersfor example), in addition to having adapted very well to the new times on TV – either through fruitful partnerships with Netflix or for having created your own talk-show – definitely Drew Barrymore it is what we can cite as the “power house” of the industry.
There is, however, a dark period in the personal life of Drew Barrymore, which reflected in some of his works. The absence of a father figure, and the creation of Jaid Mako (her mother) not exactly exemplary (to say the least), led the then 9-year-old girl to start a self-destructive process by having contact with alcohol and two years later turning to drugs. Add to that depression, going in and out of rehab clinics and trying to commit suicide at age 14, facts that made Drew Barrymore one of Hollywood’s most troubled young stars. In 1995, the actress would pose for the men’s magazine Playboy. This story, thankfully, ended on a positive note, with Barrymore reinventing itself to the new times and today raising its two daughters in a proper and dignified way.
In the midst of this turmoil through which it passed, more precisely in the early 1990s, Drew Barrymore came out of childhood and changed the image of the cute child from E.T. to that of a young woman Fatal Woman. During this period, many producers decided to capitalize on the image of Bad Girl conquered by the actress and put her to star in provocative and erotic features. Perhaps the kick-off and culmination of this moment in his career is the film Indecent Relationship (Poison Ivy not original – something like Venomous Hera), released in 1992. The feature completes 30 years of debut in 2022, and presents a Drew Barrymore that the younger audience, used to the image that the star has today – of “tiazona do pavé” -, can’t even imagine that she once had. But it is precisely this erotic thriller, based, in part, on a true story, that we are going to talk about here in this article.
Indecent Relationship marked its premiere in January 1992 at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival, the home of American independent cinema. Banked and distributed by New Line Cinema, before the studio became a subsidiary of Warner, the film had a small budget, showing its indie film airs, of US$3 million. It must be remembered that at this time, Drew Barrymore she left her junior career to show that she was a beautiful young mature woman, although at the time of release the actress was only 17 years old, being even younger. The official premiere of the feature film in the US would take place on May 8, and in Brazil it would arrive on July 2 of the same year, 1992.
The story is simple and straightforward. Drew Barrymore plays a fatal young blonde known as Ivy – though we never learn her real name during the film. She befriends Sylvie (role of Sarah Gilbert) and the two soon become best friends. Sylvie is an introverted, lonely teenager, and Ivy is everything she wants to be. Coming from a wealthy family, Sylvie takes her wandering new best friend into her house, where the fatal blonde begins to meddle in the lives of Sylvie’s parents. She seduces the patriarch Darryl (Tom Skerrit) and begins to play to the side the reclusive, depressed and sick Georgie, the mother, role of Cheryl Ladd. Here is where we have one of these curious coincidences. Ladd was panther Kris Munroe on the show The Panthersfrom 1977 to 1981. And as we know, years later, in 2000, it would be Barrymore’s turn to star in the first film version of the show.
Indecent Relationship it is a female film at its core, even if 30 years ago productions of this type were still very rare. It turns out that the film was written by a woman, and also directed by a woman. Melissa Goodard was the one who came up with the story and wrote the script. The idea came from a personal experience of the screenwriter, when she welcomed a friend to her house, who came to live with her family. In a short time, that friend had seduced Goodard’s stepfather, making the screenwriter create the character of Sarah Gilbert in the feature to use as her persona in this story.
Oh yeah, and in case you’re wondering where it fits Leonardo Dicaprio in this story, the actor who is a year older than Barrymore and was already 18 years old, had starred in his first movie for the cinema the year before, with “terrir” creatures 3 (1991). Here, however, for better or worse, DiCaprio is credited only as “Boy”, has no lines and lives one of the students in the classroom of the protagonists – although many claim that he does not appear in the long, having his scene was cut. DiCaprioof course, would get his revelation soon the following year, in films like A Man’s Awakening (with Robert DeNiro) e Gilbert Grape: Dreamer’s Apprentice (with Johnny Depp). In 1995, he would draw attention with Diary of a teenager.
Returning to the female topic of Indecent Relationshipthe film was directed by Katt Sheapupil of Roger Corman in very low-budget B-movies. The director believed that this would be her big chance to join the Hollywood team. It was not the case. Filmed in 35 days, the production lived to become a financial failure at the box office on its debut, ranking 20th in the ranking of the highest grossing films of that weekend in the US. On such a weekend, who dominated the box office was another erotic thriller, this one becoming extremely popular, beloved even today, and making its protagonist, Sharon Stone, an internationally renowned star. Of course I refer to Wild instinct, the great champion of the ranking. the performance of Indecent Relationship was so poor with the public on its release, that it lagged even wild orchid 2, a little-remembered fiasco that doesn’t feature any of the original’s actors – just the same director. Coincidentally, in the cast of this sequel we have the same Tom Skerrit.
But all was not lost for Indecent Relationship. The film’s failure closed doors for the filmmaker Katt Sheainstead of opening them as she had expected, but it was thanks to the rise of video rental stores – which began their boom in the 1980s – that several films like Indecent Relationship could see a second chance towards success and the collective consciousness of the spectators. The film resurfaced on tape at video stores, where it made so much noise that it encouraged the producers to release two more sequels (direct to video).
Other than that, it is said that Indecent Relationship ushered in a new wave of erotic thrillers starring seductive nymphets, a subgenre that experts called “lethal Lolita” and “slutsploitation” – spawning other feature films in the style starring her own Barrymore (Amy Fisher’s Story e Deadly Riddle), Alyssa Milano (The Seduction of Evil e Seductive instinct) and even Alicia Silverstone (limitless passion e A Nanny Object of Desire). And it was thanks to this resurgence in video that Katt Shea was able to continue with his career in charge of productions such as Carrie’s Curse (1999) and more recently Nancy Drew and the Secret Staircase (2019), with Sophia Lillis.
Indecent Relationship capitalized on the “wild girl” figure of Drew Barrymore – who at the time went to talk-shows like that of David Letterman and lifted her shirt to the presenter. It was an important milestone for the transition and maturation of the “little girl from ET” as her key piece in the way the actress was perceived then. In a recent interview on his new show, Barrymore received Sarah Gilbert, now an open lesbian. Gilbert revealed that his first kiss with a woman took place backstage at Indecent Relationship, with the then wild Drew, and who considered the young actress the “coolest” person he had ever met, recounting the way the teen star danced on the hood of cars. This exciting snippet could be found online.
Everything that occurs to us is an essential part of our evolutionary construction. And when we look back, we can see that thirty years ago, Indecent Relationshipconsidered trash by some, and cult by others, is part of the success that became the career of Drew Barrymore.