New York cop Al Pacino takes on an undercover assignment of "cruising" the city's gay S&M scene in order to catch a serial killer, and finds himself more affected by the task than he had envisioned. William Friedkin's work here is typical of his early period; the film is dark, suggestive and provocative, both in imagery and tone. At the time of release, gay activists protested against the movie for being anti-gay, but if it is indeed anti anything, seen in retrospect, it is New York City anno 1980. The city is portrayed as cold and unrelenting, and the killer more as a symptom rather than a cause. Among several interesting aspects of this in many ways flawed film is the insight it gives in a section of the gay scene before the AIDS hysteria. Another is the psychology of the Steve Burns character, which is very much open to analysis, in large thanks to how Al Pacino balances him delicately on the ambiguous side.