Chameleons (1992)

August 10, 2013 by adamsunderground

The blurb from the video’s box cover states:

“Some people merely lust for another person’s body … some long to become that person. Award-winning director John Leslie ushers us into a world where sexual identities are never what they seem, where one man’s fantasy is another woman’s most secret desire.”

Wasn’t there a body swapping fad in mainstream movies’ scripts at the time? A quick search yields lists of forgettable Freaky Friday clones unseen by this reviewer.

Stock photo of Ashlyn Gere. Image by Bob K (D.B), via Wikimedia Commons

A major flaw in Chameleons, the murky storytelling leads to confusion by allowing the inference that the film portrays a fungible world of arbitrary rules, like Alice in Wonderland. Its twist ending solidifies this suspicion. Main characters reveal details only as they happen, apparently making the rules up as they go along. This lazy, chaotic approach unintentionally obstructs the audience’s immersion into the film’s reality. Maybe the script needs an outside character to stand in for the audience, to have the rules spelled out for them beforehand.

That exposition fumbling compounds with Chameleons‘ ambitious, but overreaching, script goals, which never firmly grasp any of the motifs it aims for: horror, suspense, mystery, romance, tragedy–nearly everything but comedy.

Whether through poor editing or acting, most of its sex acts uphold an unrealistic level of physical exertion from start to finish, with the actors seeming almost impatient as they paw the actresses. It looks like a lazy shortcut to representing passionate desire with constant, frantic motions rather than carefully constructing a realistic ebb and flow to the action. More variety would go a long way to improving these sequences, even if just by simply modulating the energy to bursts. Like Holland’s subtle change in persona while speaking as the impostor Casey, the sex should also indicate different appetites and mannerisms.

A couple of sexual encounters do dial down the hyper athletic energy and increase the overall sensuality, a notable example being the foreplay to a lesbian tryst.

That variety deficit also extends into the very types of sex on display, Chameleons could be confused with a specialty movie dedicated to fellatio, spending little to no screen time for other acts, and from a possibly homoerotic perspective in its presentation of the blow jobs.


This odd inattention to the actresses’ bodies during fellatio raises immediate questions that further ruin the action. The camera spends most of its time during the blow job scenes passing over the standing actors’ torso, with only cut-aways to the actresses’ face in action. It looks like a severed female head floating mid air as it magically face-fucks the guy’s cock. Conspicuous by its absence, the girl’s body position never attracts the cameraman’s attention. This is truly a bizarre omission given the irrefutable curvy beauty of a girl’s squatting buttocks. For all the audience knows, she could be kneeling or standing in a ditch to be in position.

Stock photo of Deidre Holland. Image by miqrop-net, via Photobucket

The absence of variety may be because an editor later rejected unsightly condom views, leaving discarded vaginal or anal intercourse clips on the cutting room floor, or may be a lack of disease screening severely reduced potential partners in porking. And as mentioned before, a homoerotic perspective by Chameleons‘ creators could be the cause. Outside the cast and crew, who knows?

Ultimately this ambitious film leaves a middling response. Its impatience to bring a multifaceted gem to light causes it to overlook the flaw at its core.

Total Grade: C

Specialty Grade


Screenplay C


Acting C


Cinematography D
applications-multimedia Film Editing D


Visual Effects C


Audio B


Sound Editing F


Audio Effects C


Musical Score B


Production Design C

Click page 2 below for “The Morning after” Chameleons


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