By Richard Winters
My Rating: 3 out of 10
4-Word Review: Searching for his father.
Johnny (Ron Howard) is a young man who arrives in a small seaside town searching for the identity of his parents. After speaking with the various eccentric personalities that live there he come to the determination that a waitress at a local cafe named Ronda (Cloris Leachman) is his mother, but she refuses to divulge who the father is and he begins to suspect that the secret may lie in the strained relationship that she has with her sister Cara (Patricia Neal).
It’s hard to tell what motivates people to take on certain projects. Darren McGavin had a great career in front of the camera, but this remains outside of a few TV episodes that he did, his only foray as a director. Yet it means little as the story is quite pedestrian and moves at a slow pace making it seem more like a drama and it takes until the third act before there are any chills at all.
The on-location shooting, which was done in the seaside towns of Mahone Bay and Lunenburg that are both situated in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia, is quite scenic and it almost seemed like McGavin and his crew had access to the entire town as the camera follows Howard walking up and down the residential streets while homeowners stare out their windows at him at each house that he passes. If this was a film specializing in the New England vibe it would be a success, but as a horror film the plot progresses too slowly and by the time the mystery finally gets answered you really don’t care anymore.
The eclectic cast is interesting and really the only reason to watch it. Bobby Darin, in his last film, shows great potential as a feisty short-order cook, but his screen time is painfully limited. Neal gets in a few snarky remarks, but not much else and Leachman essentially channels the same character that she played in The Last Picture Show.
The one that gets the showiest part is Tessa Dahl who was Neal’s daughter in real-life and looks almost exactly like her to the point that I initially thought she was Neal at first. Her British accent helps add some flair as does her knife-wielding finish. Even more ironic is the fact that she has grown in recent years to suffer serious mental health issues much like her character.
As a novelty this film, which was reissued as Run Stranger Run, might be worth checking out just to see Opie with dark brown hair instead of his trademark red, but as a horror flick it lacks punch and has very little scares.
Alternate Title: Run Stranger Run
Released: August 17, 1973
Runtime: 1 Hour 30 Minutes
Director: Darren McGavin
Studio: Cinema 5 Distributing
Posted in 70's Movies, Horror, Low Budget, Mystery, Obscure Movies
Tagged Bobby Darin, Cloris Leachman, Darren McGavin, Entertainment, Mahone Bay Nova Scotia, Movies, Patricia Neal, Review, Ron Howard, Tessa Dahl
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
Director: Mark Goldblatt
Studio: Image Entertainment
Available: VHS, DVD, Blu-ray, Amazon Instant Video
Posted in 80's Movies, Action/Adventure, Buddy Movies, Dry Humor, Low Budget, Offbeat, Sci-Fi
Tagged Darren McGavin, Entertainment, Joe Piscopo, Movies, Review, Terry Black, Treat Williams, Vincent Price