Plot: Dr. Calvin Crosse (Philip Michael Thomas) has just been paroled from federal prison, where he served time when a patient died during an illegal abortion. He has a plan to start over, as he has been invited to a small coastal town by the local doctor, who sees great potential in Crosse. As he travels to his new home, Crosse meets and befriends a discharged veteran named Bill (Harlan Poe). The two are fast friends and that’s good, as the town instantly views Crosse as an outsider, so at least he has one friend. When he arrives at the doctor’s home, Crosse discovers his mentor has died from a heart attack, but he did leave behind research and instructions. The late doctor was concerned about an outbreak in the small town, but when Crosse tries to investigate, he hits brick after brick wall, as no one will cooperate. Why does everyone freeze him out and Crosse uncover the truth before an epidemic is unleashed?
Entertainment Value: If your interest isn’t piqued by a movie about an STD epidemic that stars Philip Michael Thomas, well, this ain’t your movie. But if you want to watch Thomas navigate racist law enforcement, creepy locals, and a lighthouse keeper with some serious syphilis, Stigma aims to please. The story is an interesting one, as a small town is on the brink of an epidemic, but there’s a weird cover up vibe and tension is thick throughout. I like movies about small communities that shun outsiders and have that dark secret texture, so I was hooked here. Philip Michael Thomas has the lead and is more than capable, surrounded by colorful characters in smaller roles, from swinging chicks to a racist sheriff to a sex crazed lighthouse keeper. The performances are good and since the movie has a serious tone, I’m glad no one dialed up the camp or melodrama too much. The movie has the feel of a horror movie, but plays more like a drama with some thriller elements. The tension is built well and is consistent, with pressure from all sides pushing toward the conclusion. I think Stigma is a well written, well performed movie that offers some solid entertainment. If you’re into body horror, medical thrillers, or just love Miami Vice, its worth a look.
This is a movie about sexually transmitted diseases, so obviously we gotta have some naked hotties on showcase. A number of topless scenes are offered up, though most are rather brief glimpses. You’re also treated to some bare ass and even a short full frontal peek, so there’s some flesh on parade in this one. Of course, we also see some medical footage of syphilitic patients, so that dampens the fun a tad. Aside from the gross shots of syphilis in action, no real bloodshed here. A swollen knee and some assorted shankers is all we have on that front. Oh, there’s one scene with actual blood from a suicide leap, so we can’t leave that out. A nice variety of dialogue here, as we have racist locals, dumb girls, sassy prostitutes, and drunken fools. Thomas backs up his medical degree with some nice exchanges as well, so a good amount of casual racism and slut shaming on display here. Stigma is not your typical horror movie or thriller, relying on dread and tension over shocks and jump scares. It has an unnerving feel that’s hard to quantify, but its there. The movie’s weird vibe earns it some crazy points, as does the sassy dialogue and colorful characters.
Overall Insanity: 4/10