Reviewed By

Christopher Armstead
In this film 'Steel and Lace' we meet concert pianist Gaily Morton (Claire Wren) who has just finished a virtuoso performance and was on her way home, when the completely scummy real-estate mogul Daniel Emerson (Michael Cerveris) decided he needed to rape her.  I guess raping a concert pianist was on his bucket list or something.  Lucky for John Tesh and the late Cliburn that they weren't performing that day.  Worst still is that Emerson had his four buddies help him rape this woman.  They didn't actually do any raping, they just… watched.  I guess.  Jeez.  In the subsequent trial, these same four guys testified that Emerson wasn't there and now he's totally beat that rap.  Completely distraught, Gaily launches herself off the tallest building, destroying her loving brother Albert (Bruce Davison) who, by chance, also happens to be a top NASA micro robotics Artificial Intelligence scientist.  Who knew?

Five years have passed and life has gone on for Emerson and his friends, as he has welcomed them into his real estate company where they shake down old people and get paid well doing it.  Good times.  We are also reacquainted with Alison the courtroom artist (Stacy Haiduk) who hasn't been the same since sketching Gaily during that unfortunate trial so many years back, and who will play a critical part in doing stuff in this movie.  Anyway, after a stressful day of shaking down old people, one of Emerson's boys meets a total hottie on the side of the road.  One thing leads to another, they head to a local motel, and it looks like the lovin' was a comin' until the hottie transmorphed into Gaily and somebody got impaled.  Not the good kind of impaling either.  One down.  Waitaminute… is that Squiggy… David L. Landers playing the Medical Examiner?  Why yes it is. 

Emerson handles the murder of his lifelong friend like somebody just told him they were out of Sweet n' Low, and life goes on, even though his friends are a little more concerned.  On the murder scene is top cop Dunn (David Naughton) who does little or nothing cop-like in this movie.  Now
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I'm not completely sure about the order of the deaths, but I know one cat gets decapitated and another attempting to get some office lovin' apparently had the entirety of his body fluids sucked through the tip of his penis.  That sound fairly horrific.  Just so you know, a super advanced, almost sentient robot, that looks like Gaily, designed by her brother, is doing all of this killing and while the killings are pretty inventive, what's most amazing is this robots amazing people morphing abilities.  It's like a Super Skrull.

So all of people who helped this awful rape take place are getting picked off on by one, and the only one who seems to see the connection is the pretty sketch artist who is now a crack detective and will get to the bottom of this nonsense.  Even our main bad guy doesn't seem to be all that concerned about it.  The top cop, who is also kind of the sketch artists boyfriend, who doesn't do much cop stuff, doesn't want the sketch artist to do any cop stuff either.  The sorrowful brother is also having some issue as his robot / sister is starting to think for herself and question her purpose in life. 

Eventually there will be a showdown.  Our evil rapist, the introspective robot, the sad brother, the sketch artist and the top cop will all meet on the same roof that poor Gaily met her end… and poetic justice will be our deliverance.

This movie 'Steel and Lace' from way back in 1991is a bit of an odd duck.  It's a rape / revenge sci-fi procedural film, with just a touch of slapstick.  I could also toss in there just the hint of incest as well since Albert seemed to really love his sister.  I mean I love my sister too, but I don't think my love for my sister would make people uncomfortable the way Albert's love for his sister made me uncomfortable. 

There are parts of this mish mash of genres in this movie that work pretty good.  Claire Wren first as the distraught victim then as the emotionless robot and in particular the clever kills our emotionless robot was able to pull off was probably the high point of the film.  Bruce Davidson is such a fine actor that even in roles that probably don't warrant Shakespearean intensity, he brings it anyway.  Gotta respect that.  And Michael Cerveris made for a pretty slimy villain. 

What seems somewhat out of place is the pretty sketch artist dead set on investigating the crime… I am thinking the filmmakers might have made her an investigative reporter or something just to keep it simple… and the top cop NOT investigating the crime.  And their whole relationship with each other.  I was also thinking that it might've been more interesting to give Gaily a love interest or a boyfriend to see how that would play out in regards to Gaily now being a robot, but then I'm still thinking that her brother was really her boyfriend.  Then there's the whole raping of the concert pianist which is just odd.  Does a person really need four friends to help him rape a concert pianist?  I guess this is just what evil people do.

We did like the ending, and with all that other stuff being said, ultimately we did like the movie, strange as it is.  'Steel and Lace' is a bit of a bizarre entry in the rape / revenge genre, but it is the strangeness of it all that makes it kind of cool.
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