Zalman King is an actor and scriptwriter who expanded his capabilities in mid career to include both producing & directing (more recently he has also very successfully tried his hand at cinematography, to complete what today has become a rare fivefold). In 1986 the success of the strongly erotic film '9 1/2 weeks', for which he was both a co-writer and the producer, drew a great deal of attention and gave him a chance to build a reputation as the best known North American Producer/Director of erotic films. He accepted this challenge by co-writing and directing another very successful film 'Two Moon Junction', released two years later. Another year on and the first 'Wild Orchid' film with a script attributed totally to ZK was released. Its claim to be a true erotic film became widely accepted - largely on the strength of its last very intense love making scene between Carre Otis and Mickey Rourke. (They were married soon afterwards, and background publicity fostering an unlikely rumour that this scene was not simulated probably helped this) Two years later came 'Wild Orchid 2 - Two Shades of Blue', released in 1989. This featured another original film-script written by Zalman King, and its name was not derived from any previous literary or dramatic work, but was clearly intended to exploit the reputation which WO-1 had earned - no doubt its sub-title was also selected with the same objective. It has only achieved a relatively low approval rating from IMDb users, however as far as I am concerned it is a fine work that, despite some flaws, is the nearest approach to a true erotic film with which Zalman King has so far been associated.
Unfortunately most of his more recent works have been directed more towards television presentation than to the cinema and do not provide a lot of competition. His company has created two different sets of short films for television both comprising independent episodes based on a longer feature film that provides a more detailed background for the complete series. The best known of these is probably the Red Shoes Diaries series. It started with a 1992 feature film of the same name which explained the significance of both the red shoes and the diaries. This has spawned an ongoing series of about fifty short TV episodes that have been continuing ever since. The very similar Chromium Blue series featured fantasies associated with the visit of a billionaire's private cruise ship to various exotic Mediterranean resorts, and probably had a higher unit budget. For me, most episodes from both these series were partly spoiled by the use of cinematographic techniques that are usually regarded as associated more with music videos than with the cinema; in addition their short running times makes it difficult for them to convey any meaningful message.
Unlike these later short productions, Wild Orchid 2 succeeds in involving the viewer in a story that is sufficiently disturbing to provide genuine emotional impact. The film is best described as a movie equivalent of the 'bodice ripper' paperback romances which appeal most strongly to the fair sex but men often also enjoy, and when televised they provide ideal entertainment for a couple. For me Wild Orchid 2 remains far the best of the many works with which Zalman King has been associated. Although the story is rather far fetched the film has an excellent cast and is very well acted, so most of its viewers probably enjoy it. (Some IMDb users have criticised the acting of its star, Nina Siemaszko, but this performance successfully established the foundations for her very productive acting career which has covered numerous TV productions as well as significant feature films - so enough said). The films ending is rather prolonged and is also somewhat weak, this is particularly noticeable because of the strong meat which preceded it, but Zalman King does deserve credit for ensuring that it was not made glaringly obvious long in advance. Watching it, I wished at times that he had had the training as a cinematographer which Russ Meyer received in the U.S. army. The modern cine camera is a technological marvel, capable of providing clear easily viewed images of even the most complex scenes. Unduly short sequences handicapped by excessive or inadequate contrast are used today by too many directors when attempting to create atmosphere or mood; ignoring the fact that this mood can be irretrievably lost once the audience starts wondering what they missed in the lost parts of the screen image. Despite these criticisms, Wild Orchid 2 is a fine film which successfully captured the trauma faced by a young girl being reluctantly but irretrievably drawn into a life of prostitution, whilst lacking the courage to break away and face the world on her own. It provides viewers with much more 'meat' than any of King's other recent films (except perhaps for his own performance in St Francis - another noteworthy film, but a serious study of the drug culture rather than an erotic work.)
I believe WO-2 deserves a far higher rating than it has currently been given by IMDb users, this rating seems to be the victim of what appears to have become a double standard, the upgrading of any excessively violent films (even those showing scenes of torture) because they display the freedom of film to uncover aspects of society which are normally kept under the carpet; but the downgrading of any showing intense sexual situations because they might unduly influence young people.