By Richard Winters
My Rating: 5 out of 10
4-Word Review: Lost in the desert.
Calvin Duggai (Sonny Landham) is a Vietnam vet sent to a mental hospital when four psychiatrists insist he does not know the difference between right and wrong. Eventually he escapes from the place and proceeds to kidnap the four people who had him put away and takes them to the middle of the hot desert where he forces them to try and survive the harsh elements with nothing more than their wits to rely on.
Based on the Brian Garfield novel ‘Fear in a Handful of Dust’ the film moves at a brisk pace and manages to be relatively gripping. The pounding rock music-like score helps build the tension. The idea that the four people decide to remain where they are and not go searching through the desert for help seems slightly odd, but the characters at least come off as real people and some of the things that they do to survive is innovative and yet still believable. The viewer genuinely starts to care for these people and wants to see them survive, which helps keep the film captivating.
70’s adult film star-turned-actor Landham isn’t bad in the lead. His muscular physique is quite intimidating and he has a threatening presence. Steve Kanaly best known for his work on the ‘Dallas’ TV-series is solid as the one who takes over and tries to help the others beat the elements. His best moment comes when he spits out a sharp shell like object that he has hidden in his mouth and into his hand where he uses it to cut the rope that is binding him to a rock.
There is some interesting flashback sequences at the beginning particularly the one showing the Karen Carlson character having an affair with Kanaly much to the dismay of her husband who is also one of the victims and yet the film doesn’t follow-up with it even though it could’ve and should’ve. Despite the story’s vindictive theme it really comes off more like a basic survival saga that could easily have worked as a TV-movie. The film is competently produced and directed, but fails to be distinctive or memorable.
My Rating: 5 out of 10
Released: May 24, 1984
Runtime: 1Hour 30Minutes
Director: George Gage
Studio: Crown International Pictures
Available: VHS, DVD, Amazon Instant Video