Brimstone & Treacle (Great Britain, 1982):

Mysterious perv Sting latches on to a middle-aged couple, though their home is already churning with turmoil even before he arches his first eyebrow over it: dissolute patriarch Denholm Elliott doubts the existence of God when not fucking his secretary, while wife Joan Plowright's life is restricted to tending to their bedridden, comatose young daughter (Suzanna Hamilton). The stranger (fallen angel? demonic imp?) briskly worms his way into the household's fabric, though, as befits a grimy professional despoiler, Hamilton's defenseless flesh is from the start his main target. Director Richard Loncraine dishes out horror-movie angles and music-video trickery (how I wish the young Neil Jordan had wrangled it), but the auteur of the piece remains Dennis Potter, adapting his own unaired 1976 BBC special as a dark fairy tale. Accordingly, the film abounds in queasy links (Elliott remembering the tryst that led to his daughter's paralyzing accident intercut with Sting sniffing her undies), curdled evangelical fervor, and casual misanthropy (Elliott's homely "salacious Jezebel" of a receptionist raising her skirt at her boss' command). In all interestingly loathsome, with sexy-spooky Sting more than a Malcolm McDowell stand-in (and also singing "Spread a Little Happiness" over the end credits, a typically pop-morbid Potter touch). Music by The Police.

--- Fernando F. Croce

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