Tag Archives: Richard Crenna

The Evil (1978)

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 2 out of 10

4-Word Review: Victor Buono is evil.

While cleaning out an abandoned mansion that Dr. Arnold (Richard Crenna) hopes to convert into a drug rehab center he opens up a trap door, which inadvertently spews out evil spirits that locks both him and his wife (Joanna Pettet) inside the place as well as the four volunteers who had offered to help him. Now, all six must find a way out of the place while avoiding getting killed by the evil that lurks about.

The film was directed by Gus Trikonis who was at one time married to Goldie Hawn and spent a decade making humdrum low budget flicks that had tantalizing plots, but only so-so results. This one is no different from his others, which amounts to a flat telling of a very pedestrian ghost story. Although I did enjoy the on-location shooting done at an abandoned hotel that since 1982 has been the home to the United World College of the American West.

The cast of familiar B-actors may interest some although Crenna’s stiff and overly rehearsed delivery is for an acquired taste. The beautiful Pettet is better and since she’s the one who sees the spirits and reacts to them while Crenna simply walks around spewing out platitudes she should’ve been the sole star. The rest of the supporting players weren’t needed although Cassie Yates’ clear blue eyes are always a pleasure.

The special effects are virtually nonexistent and all that gets shown are shots of the characters being physically thrown around by some invisible force, which isn’t exciting or creative. The only times there is a diversion is at the end when Victor Buono appears as the devil incarnate. Some consider this sequence hokey, but the whole thing is so sterile anyways that it really doesn’t hurt it. If you do end up watching it the only thing you’ll really have to fear is boredom.

My Rating: 2 out of 10

Released: May 5, 1978

Runtime: 1 Hour 28 Minutes

Rated R

Director: Gus Trikonis

Studio: New World Pictures

Available: DVD

The Flamingo Kid (1984)

flamingo kid

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 7 out of 10

4-Word Review: Get rich selling cars.

The year is 1963 and Jeffrey (Matt Dillon) is an 18-year-old still looking for direction. While working a summer job at the Flamingo Club he meets Phil Brody (Richard Crenna) who fills his head with big dreams of getting rich while selling cars. Jeffrey’s father (Hector Elizondo) wants him to go to college, but Jeffrey finds that idea to be boring and likes getting on the ‘fast-track’ to success better. After many arguments he finally moves out only to realize that Phil’s promises are empty and full-of-strings.

The movie is entertaining mainly because it manages to successfully suck you into a whole different time period. I loved the colorful cars with fins, the snazzy outfits and bouncy tunes. Most movies recreate a bygone era with an air of contempt about it, but this film makes the early ‘60s seem fun, nostalgic and full of opportunity. It also does a great job of exposing the different layers of American capitalism from those that feed off of it and exploit it, as with Crenna’s character, to those that are just happy to get by and not take any undue risks as with the father and then to the teens who are always convinced that attaining the American Dream is much easier than it really is.

The best part of the movie though is the way in analyzes the relationship between the son and father. So many movies seem to prefer looking at conflicts between mother and daughter, but fathers and sons can have just as many quarrels and this film delivers them in a way that is relatable and believable while also being a bit touching as well.

Dillon is terrific and I liked the way the character isn’t overly cocky or crude like in most ‘80s teen movies, but instead clumsy and socially awkward only to finally find the confidence when he needs it the most. Crenna is outstanding as is Elizondo, but I thought it was unusual that he got cast in the role since he is clearly Puerto Rican and Dillon, as is son, isn’t.

Jessica Walter as Crenna’s perpetually crabby wife is wasted even though she does look fine in a bikini despite already being in her mid-40s at the time of filming. Peter Costa is a scene stealer playing the same type of role that he later did in the ‘The Cosby Show’ as a shy child who doesn’t say anything, but still manages to get into everyone’s way.  John Turturro and Marisa Tomei can also be spotted in non-speaking bit parts.

My Rating: 7 out of 10

Released: December 21, 1984

Runtime: 1Hour 40Minutes

Rated PG-13

Director: Gary Marshall

Studio: 20th Century Fox

Available: DVD