Tag Archives: Craig Wasson

Four Friends (1981)

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 3 out of 10

4-Word Review: Living through the ‘60s.

Four male friends from Indiana go from high school to college and then on into young adulthood while remaining close and supportive. All of them have a passion for Georgia (Jodi Thelen) a very independent woman who enjoys playing-the-field when it comes to men and at various points has jumped into relationships with the four of them individually and at different times. Yet it is Danilo (Craig Wasson) who seems to be the most infatuated with her and he spends his life chasing after her, but finds that when they are together all they do is fight.

The story is apparently very loosely based on the experiences of screenwriter Steve Tesich who immigrated to this country from Yugoslavia at a very young age. The film starts out realistically enough, but quickly devolves into a whimsical tale that introduces interesting plotlines only to resolve them in cutesy ways that ends up making this sprawling tale quite shallow.

One of the biggest detriments is the casting of Craig Wasson who is a horrible actor as he can convey only one type of emotion, which is that of anxiousness and only one type of facial expression, which is that of nervousness. If he dares to try to expand his limited acting abilities away from these two things it comes off as unconvincing. Hs character like all the rest have no appeal as they never grow or evolve and seem put in simply as props to help carry the transparent tale.

I did like Thelen who plays the part of a spacey, free-spirited woman quite well, but even here it ends up getting clichéd. The other male characters have no distinguishable qualities and she sleeps around with them like they are toys on her own personal roulette wheel. Wasson’s character was her exact opposite and the two share no real chemistry making their eventual romance come off as being quite forced.

The film also contains some campy over-the-top dramatic elements that are unintentionally laughable and ridiculous. One takes place during a wedding party where while in front of hundreds of guests the bride’s father goes inexplicably crazy and shoots his daughter, then groom and eventually himself. Later on during a performance art show one of Thelen’s friends, in an apparent drugged stupor, accidently puts her foot on the accelerator while sitting in a car that’s parked inside a building, which sends it crashing through the wall and spiraling several stories to the ground.

The one aspect that I did like is that it didn’t resort to the Forrest Gump formula where the main characters get involved directly into all the famous historical events of the era, but instead view them from afar, which is more realistic. However, the film doesn’t show enough ‘60s nostalgia and half the time you forget the setting is even in that time period.

I admire the ambitious concept, but it takes on too much and would’ve been better had the script been more focused and less sprawling. Nothing here is compelling or memorable and the viewer is left with a genuinely flat feeling when it is over.

My Rating: 3 out of 10

Released: December 11, 1981

Runtime: 1 Hour 54 Minutes

Rated R

Director: Arthur Penn

Studio: Filmways Pictures

Available: DVD

A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987)

nightmare on elm street 3

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 4 out of 10

4-Word Review: Can’t get enough Freddy.

The last of the Elm Street children find themselves plagued by the same terrible nightmares and are now put into an institution where a grown-up Nancy (Heather Langen kamp) works as a dream therapist. It is found that Kristen (Patricia Arquette) has the ability to invite other people into her dreams, so the entire group goes into her nightmare and takes on Freddy (Robert Englund) as a team.

This third entry into the series proves to be one of the best. It makes the most creative use of the dream idea and shows a nice mix between horror and comedy. I enjoyed the camaraderie between the characters and how they seem to genuinely care and look out for each other. Freddy gets more screen time and has some  great lines. I wasn’t so sure how someone can invite others into her dreams, but for the most part it’s fun.

The special effects are imaginative. I liked the scene where Freddy lifts his shirt and exposes the crying faces of all the spirits of the dead children pushing out of his stomach. I also liked the shot showing the needle marks on the arm of a former heroin addict suddenly coming to life and going through the sucking motion like they are little mouths.

The best moment though is when Dick Cavett is seen on TV interviewing Zsa Zsa Gabor only to suddenly turn into Krueger while making the statement “Who gives a fuck what you think”.  The only negative is that the camera cuts away before we see Freddy slash her with his glove, which would have been icing on the cake.

I stated in my review of the first film in this series that Langenkamp is the best victim in a horror movie, which I think is still true, but Arquette, who makes her film debut here, has to come in as a close second. She has an appealing face and seems very much like a real teenager and you really got to admire her feistiness.  Jennifer Rubin as Taryn also makes her film debut and has one of the prettiest pair of blue eyes you will ever see.

Langenkamp for whatever reason seems a little stiff and awkward in her role although she improves as the film progresses and gets more into the dream sequences. I also didn’t like the streak of white hair that seems to hang down on the right side of her face. I wasn’t sure if this was added in to make her appear ‘more mature’, but it seemed out-of-place, unnecessary and even a bit distracting.

Craig Wasson who is a terrible actor and whose presence seriously hurt Body Double is cast as Neil one of the doctors in the clinic. Here I found him to be a little more tolerable simply for his perpetual looks of either confusion or concern that I think are the only two expressions that he is able to show.

I remember back in 1987 this was THE movie to see and be seen at amongst the teen crowd and how on opening night there was a line of teenagers going around the block to get in and me being the self-proclaimed film connoisseur was right at the front of it. I enjoyed the film very much at the time, but found upon second viewing that it didn’t grab me quite as much.

My Rating: 4 out of 10

Released: February 27, 1987

Runtime: 1Hour 36Minutes

Rated R

Director: Chuck Russell

Studio: New Line Cinema

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