The Hotel New Hampshire (1984)

the hotel new hampshire

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 5 out of 10

4-Word Review: A family of misfits.

Note: This review is part of the 1984 blog-a-thon series over at Forgotten Films.

Win Berry (Beau Bridges) is unhappy with his teaching job and feels he is not making enough money so he decides to start a hotel and make it a family venture. Tagging along with him is his mouthy daughter Frannie (Jodie Foster) who has an unhealthy lust for her brother John (Rob Lowe) and he in her as well as Frank (Paul McCrane) who is gay and Lily (Jennifer Dundas) who has stopped growing and unhappy with her short height. After many misadventures the business goes under so they move to Vienna, Austria and open up a new hotel and continue to get into a wide range of weird scenarios while also coming into contact with Susie (Nastassja Kinski) who likes to disguise herself as a bear and the blind, but quite wily Freud (Wallace Shawn).

The film, based on the John Irving novel who also co-wrote the screenplay, is something you are either going to like or hate. The narrative structure is quite odd and filled with goofy side-stories that have no connection to anything else. It’s similar to director Tony Richardson’s The Loved One, but that film at least had excellent satire that tied it all together while this thing gets nonsensical for no real reason. Mixing quirky humor with trenchant drama doesn’t work and certain plot twists like death of family members, sudden blindness and even gang rape become like throwaway pieces that are just glossed over and then soon forgotten. The superficial tone is annoying and the ‘lovably eccentric’ characters eventually become irritating.

Foster is outstanding as she plays the bratty, foul-mouthed, rebellious teen to an absolute tee. The lesbian scene where she goes to bed with Kinski and kisses her on the mouth is on an erotic level not bad. Kinski also shines with a similarly bitchy attitude, but I got real sick of constantly seeing her in that hideous bear outfit.  Dundas as the youngest female member has an adorable face, but delivers her lines in too much of a one-note way.

Lowe is surprisingly strong and his best moment comes with the facial expressions he gives at trying to lift a barbell that is too heavy. I also liked Mathew Modine being cast against type. Typically he plays the kind and gentle types, but here he’s a real nasty, callous guy who rapes Foster and then later shows up in the Vienna scenes in a dual role as an underground pornographer with a Hitler-like mustache.

Bridges is good, but his boyish face makes him look too young to be the father of the grown children. Wilford Brimley is also miscast as the grandfather as he was only seven years older than Bridges and had no gray hair, at least not on his head.

The scene where the Foster character has wild sex with her brother may be too much for some, but most likely those same viewers will have gotten turned off by it long before it even gets there. I admit it was getting on my nerves most of the way as well, but then strangely it ended up having a certain appeal, but only enough to give it a passable rating. Richardson’s direction is for the most part slick and the one things that saves it although with this thing personal taste will be one’s own barometer.

My Rating: 5 out of 10

Released: March 9, 1984

Runtime: 1Hour 49Minutes

Rated R

Director: Tony Richardson

Studio: Orion Pictures

Available: VHS, DVD, Amazon Instant Video

Heat and Dust (1983)

heat and dust

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 5 out of 10

4-Word Review: Illicit love in India.

Anne (Julie Christie) has acquired a great fascination with her long-lost Aunt Olivia (Greta Sachi) who was involved in scandal while living in India during the 1920’s. After doing some extensive interviews with Harry (Nickolas Grace) a man who knew Olivia and was friends with her during the period, Anne decides to make a trek to the region herself.  Although several decades removed Anne still manages to find some interesting things about her Aunt including her illicit affair with a local ruler named Nawab (Shashi Kapoor) which caused great scandal at the time and forced her to go into hiding.

The film has a unique structure in that it weaves back and forth between the ‘60s when Anne travels to the region and the ‘20s when Olivia was there. Initially this is slightly off-putting as it cuts back and forth quite suddenly and without warning, but eventually I adjusted to it and amazingly it comes off quite seamlessly most of the way. The film spends more time on Olivia, but by the end it’s cutting between the two every couple of minutes and it one cool moment even have the two come together in a surreal type of way. The only real problem I had with this is when Anne meets a young American man who has ‘purified’ himself from the capitalistic culture of the west, but then still seems to fall back on his old ways at times creating a tumultuous relationship with Anne that I found rather interesting and was upset when the film suddenly cut back to Olivia and then stayed with her for too long a time before going back.

I enjoyed the on-location shooting of India, which makes you feel almost like you’ve traveled there yourself. The film not only analyzes the crowded squalor of the big cities, but also the rocky beauty of its rugged terrain. The film immerses the viewer in the culture looking at both the positive aspects of it as well as the negative, which gives you an overall balanced viewpoint. However, I would have liked more an expansive look of the area with greater use of a wide angle lens and a few bird’s-eye shots of the city, but this was most likely limited because of budget restraints.

I enjoyed the wide-eyed idealism of the Olivia character and Sacchi captures it just right. Christie is also solid, but in the end a bit wasted. The film itself is interesting enough to hold your attention, but some of the scenes go on longer than necessary and could have easily been trimmed. The story seemed rather simple and predictable and has no action at all making the runtime excessive especially with a final payoff that is not too exciting and leaves more than a few loose ends open.

My Rating: 5 out of 10

Released: September 15, 1983

Runtime: 2Hours 13Minutes

Rated R

Director: James Ivory

Studio: Merchant Ivory Productions

Available: VHS, DVD

The Pack (1977)

the pack 1

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 5 out of 10

4-Word Review: Dogs on the prowl.

Jerry (Joe Don Baker) moves to idyllic Seal Island with his new wife Millie (Hope Alexander-Willis) and their two sons. They meet vacationers Jim and Marge (Richard O’Brien, Bibi Besch) and their grown son Tommy (Paul Wilson) as well as island locals Hardiman (Richard B. Shull) and Cobb (R. G. Armstrong). As the days progress Jerry becomes aware of wild dogs roaming the island that are led by a particularly vicious mongrel. These dogs become more aggressive as they have already attacked other humans and have now acquired a taste for them. The eclectic bunch becomes trapped in a home surrounded by 15 hungry dogs while forced to use their cunning and wits to outsmart the animals and make it to freedom.

The film has an interesting even novel idea of turning man’s best friend into a villain and is quite similar to Dogs, which came out at the same time and will be reviewed next week. Unfortunately the structure runs along the predictable mechanical formula of a conventional horror film using the same type of scares and shocks that are not all that imaginative.  Although shot on-location in Bodega Bay, California it looks more like a cheap studio back lot that lacks any type of visual flair. In a lot of ways it comes off like a TV-Movie and whenever there is any gore it will cut away and not show it giving it very tame, trite and dated feeling.

The characters are dull and generic and a few more interesting personalities or dramatic side-stories could have helped. The film also takes a very old fashioned viewpoint on women as they are portrayed as being helpless and incapable of handling things on their own and in desperate need of the big, burly man to come in, take control and save the day.

I thought it was amusing that Baker was cast in the lead as his face has always reminded me of a bulldog. I don’t consider him to be all that bad of an actor, but there are other male leads that could have worked better. The female cast members are completely wasted and seem put in only to sit around with a frightened looks while the men do all the action.

The dogs themselves aren’t too bad. The pack leader is made to look like he is demonic, which is a little overdone, but still effective.  A fight scene between two of the dogs is well done and intense. I also liked the climatic finish in which Baker goes face-to-face with the lead animal with only some box springs between them. However, the basic concept seems dubious and these were all pets apparently abandoned by their owners only a few weeks earlier and it seemed hard to believe that they would have turned this wild and aggressive so quickly. Most stray dogs that have been previously socialized by humans can usually be taken back into captivity relatively easily while feral dogs remain frightened of humans, but in either case rarely go on the organized attack like they do here especially when they don’t have rabies and are mostly non-aggressive breeds.

My Rating: 5 out of 10

Alternate Title: The Long Dark Night

Released: November 20, 1977

Runtime: 1Hour 35Minutes

Rated PG

Director: Robert Clouse

Studio: Warner Brothers

Available: VHS, DVD (Warner Archive)

Woodstock (1970)

woodstock 2

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 7 out of 10

4-Word Review: Love, peace and music.

During August 15 – 18, 1969 Max Yasgur loaned out his 600 acre farm, which was near the town of Bethal, New York to some concert promoters for an epic 32-act rock extravaganza that has become the cornerstone for the counterculture movement and a major moment in Rock’N’Roll history. Although originally expected to attract only 50, 000 it ended up being more than 400,000 and this movie captures the mood, festivities, and music right up close.

Unlike most documentaries this film doesn’t just turn on the camera and then proceed to let things happen at a sometimes slow and boring pace. Instead it relies on a great use of editing done at the time by an unknown Martin Scorsese, which helps give the film a very polished and dramatic narrative. The dual screen setting allows the viewer to see two things at once and you are given a full view of the occasion as you watch not only the beginning as they construct the stage, but also the massive clean-up of all the debris left afterwards.

The music acts are captured perfectly as director Michael Wadleigh’s use of the camera nicely compliments the energy on stage with a variety of angles and quick cuts. In some ways you feel more connected with the music by watching it here than having been there in person as you are made to feel like you are right next to the performer as they are playing. One of the best moments is Richie Haven’s opening act where you see the broken strings on his guitar, the sweet glistening off his nose and saturating his back as well as a close-up of his mouth where he appears to have no teeth on his upper jaw. Janis Joplin who was known to have an incredible onstage energy is also memorable and is part of the added 45-minutes of the director’s cut. Country Joe Mcdonald is also memorable with his now famous ‘fuck cheer’ and ‘I-Feel-Like-I’m-Fixin’-to-Die Rag’, which comes complete with lyrics on the screen and a little bouncing ball.

woodstock 1

The film also features different elements than what you would find in most other concert movies including one segment that looks at the cleaning of the many port-o-potties as well as a long drawn out rain storm in which many of the concert goers’ end up sliding through the mud. There is another segment looking at the skinny dippers as well as all the naked children in attendance.

There are some good interviews spliced in although I wished there had been a few more. Some of the more interesting ones include those with the townspeople who despite reports to the contrary where actually excited about the event and supported ‘the kids’at least the ones seen here. I also liked hearing from the attendees as they lined up to take turns at calling their parents on pay phones. The only interview that I didn’t care for was of a young man who used the phrase ‘you know’ so numerously that it really got on my nerves.

The movie is quite long with the director’s cut being almost 4 hours in length and not all of the music acts shown including some of the better ones. However, the film is still quite electrifying and doesn’t end up seeming as long as it is. It is also so amazingly vivid that it gives you the feeling like you were there and something that only happened yesterday instead of forty-five years ago.

woodstock 4

My Rating: 7 out of 10

Released: March 26, 1970

Runtime: 3Hours 45Minutes (Director’s Cut)

Rated R

Studio: Warner Brothers

Director: Michael Wadleigh

Available: VHS, DVD, Blu-ray, Amazon Instant Video

Dead Heat (1988)

dead heat

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 5 out of 10

4-Word Review: These cops are dead.

Roger and Doug (Treat Williams, Joe Piscopo) are two cops fighting bad guys that seem to be indestructible. They get shot at, but never die. Upon further investigation it seems some maniacal madmen (Darren McGavin, Vincent Price) have come up with a resurrection machine that can bring dead people back to life and they are being used as zombies to rob banks and commit other types of crimes. When the two cops end up being killed while on-duty they are put onto the resurrection machine themselves and ultimately making it dead cops chasing after the dead bad guys.

The film’s script by Terry Black is creative and has enough energy to be passably entertaining. Unfortunately the pace is too fast and the runtime too compact making the many elaborate twists and turns happen too quickly and conveniently and many times making no sense. Mark Goldblatt’s direction looks amateurish with a faded color and a film stock that looks like it was initially done on video and then transferred to film. The special effects are surprisingly good given the budget and for the most part the film’s only saving grace. The two best moments are when the two leads get attacked by produce at a meat market including that of a beheaded steer as well as when the Randi character (Lindsay Frost) decomposes right in front of Roger.

The acting is genuinely poor and Piscopo is especially weak, but has funny enough lines to at least be humorous. McGavin looks understandably embarrassed and seems to be simply going-through-the-paces while Price in one of his last film roles appears tired, old and frail.

William’s gives an okay performance and I liked how his is more subdued and educated character played off of Piscopo’s hyper one, but the way his character responded to things seemed weird. For instance when he finds out that he is dead and brought back to life for only a short time before decomposing he doesn’t respond with panic, but instead continues to go about his job in a very matter-of-fact way and when his partner is found dead in a particularly gruesome way he doesn’t react with any type of emotion or shock.

The film also fails to follow through on its own logic. For instance when Roger finds out he is dead and then gets cut on some glass he does not bleed, but later on when he gets shot there is blood coming out of his bullet holes. The bad guys cannot be killed by bullets because essentially they are dead already and yet somehow can still be stopped by electrocution or impalement with a pole, but why as essentially they should still be able to continue no matter what the injury.

The final act becomes like a cheesy B-horror movie that goes way over-the-top and overall the whole thing is badly disjointed. However, it’s an okay time-filler if approached with exceedingly low expectations.

My Rating: 5 out of 10

Released: May 6, 1988

Runtime: 1Hour 23Minutes

Rated R

Director: Mark Goldblatt

Studio: Image Entertainment

Available: VHS, DVD, Blu-ray, Amazon Instant Video

The Last Woman (1976)

the last woman 1

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 2 out of 10

4-Word Review: He ends his manhood.

Gerard (Gerard Depardieu) is a single father of an infant son whose wife has left him due to his controlling ways. By chance he meets Valerie (Ornella Muti) who is just getting over a tumultuous relationship with her boyfriend Michel (Michel Piccoli). She loves Gerard’s little boy and it is enough for her to move in with them almost immediately. The two have a passionate affair, but then Gerard becomes as possessive with her as he was with his ex-wife. Valerie tries to stick with it due to her feelings for the child, but Gerard’s abrasive personality and is inability to see her as anything more than a sexual object eventually becomes too much.

The film, which was directed by the notorious Marco Ferreri who was known to push-the-envelope in just about all the movies he made, is laced with a streaming sexuality that makes it almost pornographic. The sex is raw and explicit even showing Depardieu with a full erection. The characters take their clothes off and prance around naked in front of the child and even have sex with him in the room, which many American viewers will most likely find quite shocking and offensive making it easy to see why this film has never been released onto VHS, DVD or Blu-ray. The sex also seems more real and not the simulated kind one finds in most Hollywood films. There is an animalistic quality to it like it is being done unrehearsed and on-the-spot.

Unfortunately Ferreri relies too heavily on the sensual aspect to carry the film while ignoring the storyline, which is too wide-open and badly in need of more structure and editing. The sex becomes redundant and the conversations between the two characters are endless and pointless. The production plays like it has one of those scripts that gives the actors a generalized understanding of their characters and then allows them to improvise their lines, which unfortunately fails to elicit anything interesting. Ferreri’s direction lacks visual appeal by focusing in on an apartment building, which is where most of the story takes place that is too ordinary and dull.

Muti is certainly beautiful, but her acting is too restrained although it is interesting to some extent at seeing her subdued performance playing off of Depardieu’s hyper one.

Depardieu is solid as expected, but having to spend ninety percent of the time looking at his out-of-shape, chubby nude frame gets a bit trying and even gross. His character is also obnoxious and the callous way he treats Valerie eventually becomes a turn-off

Spoiler Warning!

The film’s biggest claim to fame though is the ending where without warning the Depardieu character takes an electrical meat cutter and slices off his own penis, which is done in such a graphic way that it will make any viewer wince and turn away. Having him then hold up the bloody thing and shove it into the faces of both his shocked and crying girlfriend and child is genuinely disturbing. However, the film as a whole is so boring that this horrific moment does not make it worth sitting through and in many ways just makes it even worse.

End of Spoiler Warning!

Released: April 21, 1976

Runtime: 1Hour 52Minutes

Rated X

Director: Marco Ferreri

Studio: Columbia Pictures

Available: None at this time.

Hellfighters (1968)

hellfighters

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 3 out of 10

4-Word Review: Put out the fire.

Chance Buckman (John Wayne) runs a company specializing in putting out oil well fires. His loyal assistant is the young and dashing Greg Parker (Jim Hutton) who on his off-hours is known to be quite the ladies’ man. When Chance is injured during a freak accident and sent to the hospital Greg call’s Chance’s estranged daughter Tish (Katherine Ross) to come visit him. When Tish arrives her and Greg fall in love and get married even though there is no initial chemistry and after only knowing each other for five days. The rest of the film deals with Chance and Greg quarreling over having his daughter, or any woman for that matter, on-site watching them put out fires as he feels it’s ‘not the proper place for a woman to be’.

If this were a documentary on the real Red Adair, which is who the Chance Buckman character is modeled after, this would have been an exciting and fascinating film. Unfortunately the drama in-between the fire scenes is lame and hooky. The characters and situations are generic and boring and the 2-hour runtime becomes almost interminable to have to sit through.

Politics aside I have always enjoyed Wayne as an actor. Yes he can basically only play one type of part, but he does it well. He knows how to have an onscreen presence, can usually own every scene he is in and can sometimes surprisingly show a good self-depreciating sense of humor as well. However, here he looks old, tired and washed-up. He goes through his scenes like he is sleepwalking and as bored with the threadbare material as the viewer. The silly barroom fight that he and his pals get into becomes ridiculous when you realize that it is old geezers in their 60’s and 70’s that are throwing the punches. The only good scene he has is during a humorous throwaway where he sits on a committee and much to his annoyed reluctance must decide what color to paint the company’s 1,400 nationwide bathrooms.

Despite the fact that she later told reporters that this film was “The biggest piece of crap I’ve ever done!” it is Ross who is the most engaging and quite beautiful in her bob haircut. I enjoyed the way her character stands up to Wayne and apparently behind the scenes the two did not get along and had quite a few arguments. Vera Miles as Wayne’s wife is badly miscast as she was 23-years younger than him and looks more like Ross’s older sister than her mother.

The opening 20 minutes where you see step-by-step how the men put an actual oil rig fire out is quite compelling and even educational, but it goes completely downhill from there and never recovers. By the end the whole thing becomes redundant and having the climatic finale takes place in South America where the men risk being shot at by guerrilla snipers adds little tension or interest making me conclude that the one thing that should’ve been set on fire was the script, but unfortunately it wasn’t.

My Rating: 3 out of 10

Released: November 27, 1968

Runtime: 2 Hours 2 Minutes

Rated G

Director: Andrew V. McLaglen

Studio: Universal

Available: VHS, DVD, Blu-ray (Region B)

Heat of Desire (1981)

heat of desire

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 3 out of 10

4-Word Review: Obsessed over a woman.

Serge (Patrick Dewaere) is a college professor ready to take his wife Nicole (Nicole Jamet) to Barcelona for a second honeymoon when he meets the mysterious and beautiful Caroline (Clio Goldsmith). Immediately there is an attraction and Serge instantly leaves his shocked wife for her. The two share a strange relationship as Caroline pulls all the strings with Serge constantly crawling after her. As he loses his job, friends, reputation and finances he continues to obsess over her even as it eventually puts his life on the line.

The film has potential. I liked the idea of this intelligent man acting very unintelligently simply because of a beautiful woman, which happens much more often than one might realize. Seeing his successful life devolve into shreds is actually kind of funny and amusing. Unfortunately the script is not fleshed out and seems like a rough draft that is poorly thought out and badly in need of revisions. Everything happens much too fast without any backstory to the characters given. We have no understanding to the Serge character and the actions and behaviors of Caroline are quite bizarre without any explanation given for why she is that way. I found myself put-off by it and unable to get into it at all.

The film does have a few amusing moments. I enjoyed Serge’s attempts at giving a lecture to a roomful of college students about a book that he had actually not read. The makeshift fort that Caroline makes out of some furniture and blankets inside a hotel room is cool and Serge’s standoff with another man inside a urinal is funny as well. Unfortunately writer/director Luc Beraud doesn’t take these scenes to their full potential leaving the viewer with a small chuckle or two instead of all out laughter.

Dewaere gives a solid performance in one of his last roles before is untimely death by suicide just a year later. Goldsmith is attractive, but her nude scenes don’t mean much since they are all done in the dark and the shadowy lighting doesn’t allow the viewer to see much of her figure. Jeanne Moreau is terrific as Caroline’s mother who pimps her own daughter out to clients and then even herself.

The ending like the beginning is a disappointment and leads to a lot of nothing. The viewer is left with no conclusion to anything and the badly disjointed narrative makes this potentially explosive idea a big misfire.

My Rating: 3 out of 10

Alternate Title: Plein sud

Released: April 29, 1981

Runtime: 1Hour 31Minutes

Rated R

Director: Luc Beraud

Studio: Gaumont

Available: VHS

Rabid Dogs (1974)

rabid dogs 3

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 7 out of 10

4-Word Review: Terror filled car ride.

Four men decide to hijack a car that is delivering the payroll to the employees of a local Italian pharmaceutical plant. Both men inside the car are killed, but the four manage to get away with the money only to have the driver of the getaway vehicle shot in the back of the head by a security guard as well as having a bullet hole put into their fuel tank. The remaining three are then forced to find another car. There is the Doctor (Maurice Poli) who is the level-headed leader and mastermind. There is also Bisturi (Don Backy) a lanky child-like man prone to savagery without warning and Thirty-two (George Eastman) who can be equally savage especially with women. They kidnap a beautiful woman named Maria (Lea Lander) and then hijack another car driven by a father Riccardo (Riccardo Cucciolla) who is trying to take his sick son to the hospital. The six then go on a terrifying car ride through the Italian countryside while playing a game of cat-and-mouse with each other and eluding the authorities.

This film turned out to be Mario Bava’s swan song. His career had faded during the 70’s as his style of horror films were no longer considered chic and he made this film project a personal crusade to prove that he could keep up with the modern sensibilities by creating a film that was gritty, raw and violent. All things considered he succeeds valiantly. The film has a nasty edge right from the beginning and manages to stay at that tone throughout. The killers are truly mean and keep the viewer on edge with their unpredictable trigger-finger personalities. It achieves a level of ugliness reminiscent in a true crime that most Hollywood films never seem able to attain and its shoe-string budget and bare-bones approach becomes a major benefit.

For a film that takes place almost entirely inside a car the shot selections has an amazing amount of variety. Bava ended up having to do the cinematography himself because he couldn’t afford to keep the one he had hired on, which makes it all the more incrediable how brilliantly visual this is. The characters faces get up so close to the lens you literally feel like you can smell them and sense the sweat glistening off their bodies making you believe you are stuck in the car with them. The film is never boring or slow, the action well-choreographed with interesting  plot twists proving what an underrated genius Bava was and making me believe that despite the many difficulties getting produced this is his finest effort.

Backy who was and still is today a singer/songwriter with limited acting experience gives a great performance and is possibly the most memorable of the villains especially with his shocked expressions after he commits a particularly vile act proving that even he himself is shaken at his own savagery. Leander isn’t necessarily the best of actresses, but her perpetual look of shock and fear is quite entertaining. I was also impressed with the child actor who manages to stay asleep despite all the violence and chaos around him.

I also enjoyed the similarities to Last House on the Left including an exciting foot chase through a cornfield where you think the women is going to get away as well as a scene where the women is forced to urinate in front of the men while they laugh and mock her.

If you are a fan of 70’s exploitation than this lost gem deserves to be on top of any true fan’s list as it delivers-the-goods without ever watering things down for good taste. I also enjoyed the neat twist ending, which I saw coming, but it’s pretty cool anyways.

Years later Bava’s son Lamberto used existing footage from this film while adding new scenes with a different ending to create a movie called Kidnapped although I prefer this version better.

My Rating: 7 out of 10

Alternate Title: Kidnapped

Released: February 25, 1998 (Never released during Bava’s lifetime.)

Runtime: 1Hour 36Minutes

Not Rated

Director: Mario Bava

Studio: Spera Cinematografica

Available: DVD, Blu-ray, Amazon Instant Video

Body Heat (1981)

body heat 1

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 7 out of 10

4-Word Review: Lawyer kills lover’s husband.

Every Monday for the month of August I’ll review an 80’s film that has the word ‘heat’ in its title starting with this modern-day film noir classic. Ned Racine (William Hurt) is a shyster lawyer looking for some action and on one sultry hot Florida night finds it when he spots the beautiful Matty Walker (Kathleen Turner) at an outdoor concert. The two soon fall into having mad passionate sex, but there is one problem. Matty is married to Edmund (Richard Crenna) who is rich, but boring. She plants the seed in Ned’s head to kill him and thus allow the two to live happily ever after with the money they will get from his will. Ned jumps into the scheme with his eyes wide-open only to later realize after it is too late that Matty has other plans that don’t involve him and thus making him a schmuck of the first kind.

I still enjoyed Double Indemnity and The Postman Always Rings Twice better, but for a modern day film noir this one isn’t bad and rates superior to most of the others. Writer/ director Lawrence Kasdan creates characters that are amoral, but fascinating. The dialogue is snappy and the production stylish without ever getting too overdone or pretentious.  The first hour is a bit slow and it takes too long to get to the killing, but once the second half kicks in it becomes a wild ride of twists and turns that remains as entertaining as ever.

The movie also has numerous references to the heat even more so than most movies that takes place in a hot climate. Overall I enjoyed this as it makes the viewer feel sweaty and muggy even if the weather outside isn’t. The sweat glistening off their naked bodies is effective and not an irritating cliché like in most other movies. The only problem I had was that Matty lives in this giant, luxurious mansion and yet must rely on fans and open windows to cool off when in reality the place would have been wired with indoor air conditioning.

Turner, in her film debut, looks stunning and it is just unfortunate that due to illness and age she no longer looks anything like she did here. Her nude scenes are brief and from far away, but still hot.

Hurt is excellent as usual, but the character was a bit irritating. I realize that the guy is thinking with his penis and not his brain, but it still seemed hard to believe that he wouldn’t once just for a second step back and contemplate whether he was being set-up especially since her ‘tactics’ to convince him to do it weren’t in any way novel or sophisticated. The minute she brings up wanting to change the will like she does here so that she gets all the money instead of Edmund’s ex-wife should have been a red flag to even the dumbest and horniest of males that this woman is in love only with money and a good signal that he is being used and to dump her.

Ted Danson looking almost unrecognizable in horn-rimmed glasses is a stand-out in support and almost ends up stealing the film as Ned’s lawyer buddy. He also gets the movies best line. As everyone is sitting in a smoke filled room looking over the will and someone offers him a cigarette he states “No thanks. I don’t need any. I’ll just breathe in the air.”

body heat 2

My Rating: 7 out of 10

Released: August 28, 1981

Runtime: 1Hour 53Minutes

Rated R

Director: Lawrence Kasdan

Studio: Warner Brothers

Available: VHS, DVD, Blu-ray, Amazon Instant Video, YouTube