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Femme Fatalities

Sex appeal as a fatal weapon -- Five films, including ''Black Widow'' and ''Romeo is Bleeding,'' that feature women who seduce to get what they want

Talk about dangerous liaisons. The Last Seduction — and plenty of seductions before it — illustrates how lethal a weapon sex appeal can be when wielded by the right woman.

Double Indemnity 1944
Setup: Phyllis (Barbara Stanwyck) persuades insurance-selling paramour Walter (Fred MacMurray) to off her husband.
Come-On: From his first sight of her wearing a towel and an engraved anklet, Walter is smitten.
Comedown: When Walter finds out Phyllis double-crossed him, he cancels her policy — with a bullet.

Black Widow 1987
Setup: Federal investigator (Debra Winger) trails woman (Theresa Russell) whose rich husbands all died mysteriously.
Come-On: Chameleonic transformations and thorough study enable the widow to satisfy any mate.
Comedown: When her latest prey snares her, she ends up in prison.

Kill Me Again 1989
Setup: Gambler (Joanne Whalley-Kilmer), on the run from the Mob and her boyfriend, hires PI (Val Kilmer) to fake her death.
Come-On: The two discover what a sexual stimulant a pint of A-negative blood can be when they smear it on themselves.
Comedown: Car chase leads to her high-speed encounter with propane gas tank.

Body of Evidence 1993
Setup: Art dealer (Madonna), on trial for killing lover through fornication, inflames her attorney (Willem Dafoe).
Come-On: She puts lawyer through such trials as sex with hot wax and amid broken glass.
Comedown: Fatally shot, the dirty dealer falls into a swimming pool.

Romeo Is Bleeding 1994
Setup: The Mob pays rogue cop (Gary Oldman) $65,000 to kill hitwoman (Lena Olin); she offers him $325,000 to let her live.
Come-On: ''With or without?'' she asks about her detachable robotic arm, before they do the nasty.
Comedown: Inside a courthouse, the cop takes her out in a hail of bullets.

Originally posted Jun 30, 1995 Published in issue #281-282 Jun 30, 1995 Order article reprints
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