DESPERATE REMEDIES is a furious, deliberately demented bodice-ripper from New Zealand that seems conceived exclusively for high-camp or low-character crowds. "At a distant point of empire, in a town called Hope, a ship docks bearing immigrants," read the opening titles; what follows, to
the turgid strains of Berlioz, Verdi, and Strauss, is a breathless romp through all manner of boy-girl, girl-girl, and girl-boy-girl sexcapades.
Dorothea Brook (Jennifer Ward-Lealand) is the woman in red, a draper of some distinction in the 1860s port of Auckland. On the docks one night, she passes a card to Lawrence Hayes (Kevin Smith), a swarthy lad who's just arrived from En...