Def by Temptation
def by temptation | james bond iii | kadeem hardison | bill nunn | succubus | demon | monster | creature | religion | blaxploitation | samuel l. jackson | united states | minnie gentry | rony clanton | steven van cleef | john canada terrell | guy davis | cynthia bond
Film: Def by Temptation
Director: James Bond III
Writer: James Bond III
Starring: James Bond III, Kadeem Hardison and Bill Nunn
This is a movie that I’m not entirely sure when I first heard about it. I knew that it existed and that it was a more modern take on blaxploitation, but that was about the extent. I watched this in celebration of Black Appreciation month. It also doubles as Women Appreciation since it features Cynthia Bond as the temptress.
Synopsis: an evil succubus is preying on libidinous black men in New York City and all that stands in her way is a minister-in-training, an aspiring actor and a cop who specializes in cases involving the supernatural.
We start this off in the present day of NYC. The movie introduces us to a bartender, John Canada Terrell, who doesn’t have much in the way of morals. He is setting up a rendezvous with a married woman when Temptation (Bond) shows interest. We see that she has a dark secret though.
From there, the movie then takes us into the past. It is in North Carolina where Minister Garth (Samuel L. Jackson) is practicing his sermon. In one of the pews is Joel (Z. Wright). We see a figure behind him. That night Garth dies in a car accident. Joel (played by James Bond III as an adult) wakes up from a nightmare.
Then we go back to NYC. There we are following K (Kadeem Hardison). He is an independent actor. He likes to go to a local bar where Dougy (Bill Nunn) hits on women that come there, but not successfully. This is the same bar that Temptation frequents. There is a new bartender though, this other one is Guy Davis. This place is quite popular and Temptation can take a different guy home each night. Even K is entranced and falls for her charm.
Joel then comes to visit. He isn’t quite ready for a city like this, which causes him to butt heads with K. It doesn’t help that Temptation doesn’t seem to acknowledge that she knows him. She is more interested in Joel. K tries to warn him, but he won’t hear any of it. He is faced with a crisis of faith that could cost him even more.
That is where I’ll leave my recap and introduction to the character. Where I want to start is that this is an interesting little movie. What is intriguing here is that we have limited sets, but it doesn’t feel that contained. Looking back there is the house in North Carolina, the bar, K’s apartment and Temptation’s place. Each one is distinct and realistic. The bar feels like one I’ve been to, the house in NC feels authentic. The best two locations though are K’s and Temptation’s places. They have character in different ways.
What carries this movie though is the acting. I was glad to see Haridson in this. He’s an actor that I don’t see a lot of, but when he is, he has a quirkiness about him that I like. Nunn is solid in his awkward character. There is a reveal that I didn’t necessarily see coming. He’s funny ahead of that. James Bond III is on the weaker side. I understand being the writer/director and casting yourself. He’s fine as this naïve character. I also think that Cynthia Bond is solid as the temptress. Other than that, I don’t mind the Jackson cameo. Minnie Gentry is solid as the grandmother. The rest of the cast, including the victims are solid.
I’ll then shift over to the creature in this one. I know people refer to it as a vampire, but it is a succubus. This is an underutilize monster in movies so I like that this one does. There is a gripe that I’m also going slide in as well. If you don’t know, a succubus is a female demon that preys on men. Cynthia Bond is attractive and uses her sexual well so that fits. What I like is that she tortures the men in a way. She attacks them and ravages their bodies. These demons are also supposed to use dreams which this one does as well. I even thought that having her name be Temptation was good. What I don’t like is the title Def by Temptation. When it clicked home what they’re doing, it works on multiple levels and a pun. I groaned when it connected. It is a joke that I would make with my wife and she would react that way so I shouldn’t be too hard either.
I should then take this over to the crux of the film. This is a film about religion and the crisis of faith. This gets introduced from the beginning with the nightmare. Once Joel shows up, he becomes the focus of Temptation. It seems that she knows that his faith in God could be her downfall so her goal is to entice him. I don’t mind this idea even though I’m not religious. Since we are dealing with a demon, this is a fitting story to tell.
The only other aspect of the story deals with Dougy. Originally, I thought they were just using him as comic relief. There is a reveal to him that is brought up in the synopsis. He’s coming to this bar for a reason. He’s also focusing on Temptation. I did notice that she is there and could probably hit it off with her, but he doesn’t. He is always focusing on other women. His game isn’t very good which is why I thought he was in this for laughs. There is more to it. I don’t know if I fully love it though. It does add a bit more and helps with explaining things so I understand why it is here.
All that is left then to go into would be with the filmmaking. The cinematography here is fine. That is probably the strongest part of the movie along with the effects. We get an interesting scene with K in his apartment that involves his television. The dreamlike look of Temptation’s apartment. The nightmares that Joel has as well. I’d say that how they’re shot and framed are good with the effects helping bring different things to life. Other than that, there is the soundtrack. I thought that it fit for what was needed without necessarily standing out.
In conclusion, this movie is an interesting one. It would technically fall into blaxploitation, but with how it is managed, it does it with a serious tone. It is interesting that this is a Troma film as it is on the tamer side for them during this era. I liked the entity that we get here. It is one that we don’t necessarily see a lot of. There are good elements, while others that don’t work as well. I think cutting out parts of the comedy would help. There is a solid enough cast and this is well-made. Won’t be for everyone, but an odd movie from the early 1990s.
My Rating: 6.5 out of 10