Def by Temptation

USA 1990, 94 mins
Director: James Bond III

A contemporary review
The blossoming new black cinema is gradually reclaiming the generic territory seeded by the 70s wave of Blaxploitation pictures. While New Jack City redrafted the parameters of Shaft and Superfly, Def by Temptation returns to the potentially rich area of black horror first colonised by the absurd Blacula and then enhanced by more interesting, albeit marginal, pieces like Bill Gunn’s Ganja and Hess. The guiding spirit of Spike Lee is also in evidence: the opening sequence, in which a black bartender spiels on the phone to a succession of girlfriends before succumbing to the wiles of the temptress, seems to have strayed in from She’s Gotta Have It, while later barroom encounters, preceding the ‘feeding’ scenes between the shape-changing temptress and her victims, have the feel of a black version of Cheers.

This sharp, funny and borderline creepy socio-sexual horror story continues with a series of ambiguous scenes in the temptress’ red-sheeted four-poster as she disposes of sundry victims, either in the approved fashion or in more bloody, bizarre manner. On one occasion, she seduces a mainly gay muscle-man into a straight encounter, only to penetrate him anally by (it is implied) growing outsize male sexual equipment. Later she develops fangs borrowed from Fredric March’s Mr Hyde and serpent eyes like those of Jacqueline Pearce in The Reptile.

The scenes between Joel and his actor friend are marvellously written and played in a Spike Lee, semi-improvised manner, but the central opposition between the naïve Joel and the inhuman temptress is disappointing, linked as it is to conventional, reactionary values. The complex, amoral world of the bar and the bedroom gives way to a backward-looking moralism that allows for a traditional (albeit in extreme form) vampire movie finish in which faith conquers all and the temptress is reduced to smoking bones by the cross and Joel’s unshakeable faith.
Kim Newman, Sight and Sound, July 1992

Directed by: James Bond III
©: Bonded Enterprises Inc.
Orpheus Pictures presents
a Bonded Filmworks production
Executive Producers: Charles Huggins, Kevin Harewood, Nelson George
Produced by: James Bond III
Co-producers: Kevin Simms, Hajna O. Moss
Production Manager: Christina Diaz Norman
Production Office Co-ordinator: Robin Downes
Post-production Services and Supervision by: The Troma Team
Production Assistant Set: Spencer McAdams
Production Assistants: Kenneth August Carpenter, Elliot Wilson, Anthony Ogburn, Morenike Macauley, Desiree Jellerette
1st Assistant Director: Marcus Turner
2nd Assistant Director: Tyrone M. Henderson
Script Supervisor: Adrienne Tien
Casting by: Bonded Enterprises Inc., Hush Management
Written by: James Bond III
Photographed by: Ernest Dickerson
1st Assistant Camera: Jonathan Bukhart
2nd Assistant Camera: Darnell Martin
Gaffer: Victoria Estern
Best Boy: Vanya Edwards
Key Grip: D. Piper Still
Still Photographers: Albert B. Cooper IV, Salimah Ali
Special Effects: Rob Benevides
Additional Special Effects: Pericles Lewnes, Select Effects *
Editor: Yu Li-Shin
Additional Editing by: Brian O’Hara
Associate Editor: Stefan Harshman
Production Designer: David Carrington
Art Director: Marc Henry Johnson
Paintings in Temptress’s Loft: Jeff Robinson
Temptress’s Wardrobe by: Elden Glover
Hair & Make-up: Matiki Anoff
Special Effects Make-up: Christina Bone
Opticals: Film Opticals
Film Score Composed and Performed by: Paul Laurence
Temptation Soundtrack Music Supervisor: James Bond III
Temptation Soundtrack Production Co-ordinator: Weldon Cochren
Temptation Soundtrack Executive Producers: Beau Huggins, James Bond III
Music Editor: David Ouimet
Music Technician: Daryl Shepherd
Sound Mixer: Charles R. Hunt
Re-recording Mixer: Jack Cooley
Sound Editor: Ron Kalish

James Bond III (Joel)
Kadeem Hardison (‘K’)
Bill Nunn (Dougy)
Samuel L. Jackson (Minister Garth)
Minnie Gentry (grandma)
Rony Clanton (married man)
Steven Van Cleef (Jonathan)
Guy Davis (bartender 2)
John Canada Terrell (bartender 1)
Cynthia Bond (temptress)
Freddie Jackson (himself)
Najee (himself)
Melba Moore (Madam Sonya)
Z. Wright (young Joel)
Michael Rivera (gay guy)
Sundra Jean Williams (Mrs Garth)
Beth Letty (lady 2)
Angela Stokes (lady 3)
Lahaina Kameha (lady 5)
Ellis Williams (demon limo driver)
Michael Michelle (lady 6)
Robin Harmon (lady 4)
Starlina Young (lady 1)

USA 1990©
94 mins

* Uncredited

Nosferatu (Nosferatu – Eine Symphonie des Grauens)
Mon 17 Oct 20:50; Sun 13 Nov 15:50 (+ intro by Silent Film Curator Bryony Dixon); Sat 19 Nov 14:10
Tue 18 Oct 20:50; Fri 28 Oct 18:20; Tue 8 Nov 18:20; Sun 27 Nov 13:00
The Skeleton Key
Wed 19 Oct 18:00; Mon 14 Nov 20:45
Meet the Monsters: A Season Introduction
Thu 20 Oct 19:30 BFI YouTube
I Walked With a Zombie
Thu 20 Oct 20:40; Tue 1 Nov 18:10
Creature from the Black Lagoon (3D)
Sat 22 Oct 18:15 (+ pre-recorded intro by Mallory O’Meara, award winning and bestselling author of ‘The Lady from the Black Lagoon’); Sat 29 Oct 11:40; Tue 1 Nov 20:50
In Dreams Are Monsters Quiz
Sun 23 Oct 19:00-22:00 Blue Room
Kuroneko (Yabu no naka no kuroneko)
Tue 25 Oct 20:45; Mon 31 Oct 21:00; Fri 18 Nov 18:15
The Fly
Wed 26 Oct 21:00
La Llorona
Thu 27 Oct 20:30; Mon 7 Nov 21:00
Celluloid Screams and Live Cinema UK presents: Ghostwatch + Q&A
Fri 28 Oct 20:20
Fri 28 Oct 20:45; Tue 8 Nov 20:50
A Nightmare on Elm Street
Sat 29 Oct 18:30; Wed 30 Nov 20:50
Sat 29 Oct 20:45; Thu 17 Nov 20:50 (+ intro)
Nightbreed – Director’s Cut
Sun 30 Oct 15:10 (+ intro); Sat 12 Nov 20:35
28 Days Later
Mon 31 Oct 18:00 (+ Q&A with director Danny Boyle); Sat 26 Nov 20:45
Tue 1 Nov 20:40; Sat 19 Nov 15:10; Tue 29 Nov 20:40
The Autopsy of Jane Doe
Wed 2 Nov 18:10; Sat 26 Nov 20:40
Let’s Scare Jessica to Death
Wed 2 Nov 20:45; Sat 19 Nov 20:45
Thu 3 Nov 20:55; Sat 26 Nov 13:00
Fri 4 Nov 18:30; Sat 19 Nov 12:10; Sun 20 Nov 18:30
Fright Night
Fri 4 Nov 20:50; Tue 22 Nov 20:40 (+ intro)
Sat 5 Nov 20:20 (+ intro by author Kier-La Janisse); Sun 27 Nov 15:30
Ganja & Hess
Mon 7 Nov 18:00; Sat 26 Nov 15:20
Wed 9 Nov 20:40; Sat 26 Nov 18:20
The Entity
Fri 11 Nov 17:55; Tue 15 Nov 20:30
Def by Temptation
Wed 16 Nov 18:10 (+ intro); Sat 26 Nov 18:10
Jennifer’s Body
Sun 20 Nov 15:15; Mon 21 Nov 18:00; Fri 25 Nov 20:45
Mon 21 Nov 20:30; Sun 27 Nov 12:20
Under the Shadow
Wed 23 Nov 20:40; Tue 29 Nov 18:10
Ouija: Origin of Evil
Thu 24 Nov 20:40; Mon 28 Nov 18:10
Pet Sematary
Fri 25 Nov 18:15; Mon 28 Nov 20:40
Good Manners (As Boas Maneiras)
Sun 27 Nov 18:10; Wed 30 Nov 20:25

City Lit at BFI: Screen Horrors – Screen Monsters
Thu 20 Oct – Thu 15 Dec 18:30-20:30
Beyond Nollywood World Premiere: Inside Life + Q&A with director Clarence A Peters
Sat 29 Oct 14:00
Matchbox Cine presents House of Psychotic Women
Sat 5 Nov 17:50
Son of Ingagi + Panel Discussion
Wed 9 Nov 18:10
Live Commentary with Evolution of Horror, Brain Rot and The Final Girls
Sat 19 Nov 18:00
Big Monster Energy
Tue 22 Nov 18:30

Welcome to the home of great film and TV, with three cinemas and a studio, a world-class library, regular exhibitions and a pioneering Mediatheque with 1000s of free titles for you to explore. Browse special-edition merchandise in the BFI Shop.We're also pleased to offer you a unique new space, the BFI Riverfront – with unrivalled riverside views of Waterloo Bridge and beyond, a delicious seasonal menu, plus a stylish balcony bar for cocktails or special events. Come and enjoy a pre-cinema dinner or a drink on the balcony as the sun goes down.

Enjoy a great package of film benefits including priority booking at BFI Southbank and BFI Festivals. Join today at

We are always open online on BFI Player where you can watch the best new, cult & classic cinema on demand. Showcasing hand-picked landmark British and independent titles, films are available to watch in three distinct ways: Subscription, Rentals & Free to view.

See something different today on

Join the BFI mailing list for regular programme updates. Not yet registered? Create a new account at

Programme notes and credits compiled by the BFI Documentation Unit
Notes may be edited or abridged
Questions/comments? Contact the Programme Notes team by email