Exquisite Tenderness starts out seeming like a Robin Cook medical thriller, a la Coma (1978). The writers have made a modicum of effort to make the medical doubletalk and the hospital environment seem convincing. As the plot follows junior doctor Isabel Glasser as she suspects Malcolm McDowells scientist of illicit experimentation, it seems like the formula of a Robin Cook book falling into place wherein the young female doctor finds evidence of illicit experimentation and/or conspiracy among the senior staff at the hospital where she works.
However, this plot direction is abandoned Malcolm McDowell is quickly disposed of early in the show and Exquisite Tenderness promptly twists around into a psycho medic story. Indeed the title, Exquisite Tenderness, makes the film sound more like an Italian giallo psycho-thriller than a medical horror film either that or a work of arthouse erotica. The film increasingly abandons all likeness to a Robin Cook medical thriller and becomes a schlock slasher movie a la Dr Giggles (1992). Carl Schenkel has fun throwing in scenes of nasty sadism a scene where psycho medic Sean Haberle repeatedly slams a metal drawer on his hand in order to break his thumb so that he can escape a set of handcuffs; injections of gunk up peoples nose using a very long needle; a nasty scene where Charles Dance is tied up, his lips sewn together and he is forced to watch as all of his blood is drained out in a dialysis machine; a scene where a detective pops his head up into the ceiling to investigate noises there and gets a scalpel plunged into his eye. The film displays no real style upon Carl Schenkels part but he makes up for this with the sheer ferocity of sadistic imagination (again not unlike an Italian giallo thriller). Indeed, this is an approach that would have enlivened Schenkels earlier serial killer thriller, the dull Knight Moves, to no end. It all makes for a modestly effective film.
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