|Index||5 reviews in total|
Medium budget action film thats not as bad as made out. But I'm not
saying it's good either. But it does have something.
OK the premise is a bit naff. A unnamed wealthy small town in the South-West ( the film was filmed around Scottsdale and Mesa in Arizona) is terrorized by an American Indian with a crossbow who seeking to address the injustices of the past by extorting the town rich of $5 million. Add to that the fact that all of the roles are underwritten and there are many undeveloped plot lines. Without being too picky and in no order: is the Indian really an Indian, why all the Indian mysticism, why is he extorting money, what about his Olympius career, what about the lucrative land deal the big wigs are trying to put together, why does this small community have so many rich people ...
Also everyone seems to know each other very well after just meeting. Its as if the actors are anticipating the next scene. Oliver Reed's character abuses, woos, threatens and beds a reporter in about 2 minutes of screen time ! He also forms a friendship based on mutual respect with Jim Mitchum's character in their 4 scenes together.
To top this off a lot of the action is a bit lame.
So what does the film have? A great cast of familiar faces! I can sit through any tripe if you throw enough faces from years past at me. Stuart Whitman as the millionaire is good ( the best scene in the film is where he and the Indian are playing cat and mouse in his mansion), John Ireland does not have a lot to do but is always dependable, Robert Mitchum's son Jim is vastly underrated ( where is Tarantino to revive his career) and also doesn't have much to do but I suppose he was cast as a familiar face to the 70s action movie crowd ( check him out in "Trackdown"), Paul Koslo again plays the bad guy ( he was the bad guy in so many 70s films and was always excellent) and almost lifts the ridiculous role above what it is worth! Oliver Reed and Deborah Raffin are OK.
So if you get a buzz , as I do, watching films from the 70s and 80s with great actors of years past in small leads or supports then this is the ticket for you. For my money the action is fast paced and never boring ( its just not that good). The director, Richard Compton, also directed drive-in cult classic " Macon County Line".
By the way the theme song ( for Victor the Indian) , "Shoot Him", was co-written and performed by Roger McGuinn ( of the Byrds) and its lyric explains a lot of the motivations behind the Indian's character .... which the script writers had failed to do.
Paul Koslo plays an ex-olympic athlete who for unspecified reasons is
now trying to collect millions of dollars from a town's rich people by
dressing up like a native American in leather and warpaint and killing
police and prominent citizens with a bow and arrow.
While it seems like he put a lot of effort into his plans to kill people, collect the money, and escape, at the same time he's very careless, nearly getting shot or caught almost every time. At one point, he kills a man in a parade. No one seems to know where he was when he shot the man, but inexplicably he jumps onto his motorbike and rides right into the parade route so that everyone can see him, and easily follow him.
The rich people hire McCormick, played by Oliver Reed, to try to catch or kill Koslo. Early on, Reed purposely drives off with a TV journalist's microphone, and then when she follows him to a bar to retrieve it, he has a Tequila Sunrise ready for her. However he then pulls out a loaded gun and holds it to her head, threatening her not to move. Inexplicably, a moment later they're consensually in bed together.
The story is absurd. This is not a very good movie at all.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Near Phoenix, Arizona, there's a small town with the highest
concentration of millionaires living there. When a psychopath in full
Native American regalia (Koslo) sets up shop there and begins killing
people with his bow and arrow, the townspeople soon realize he's going
to continue sniping people from long distances until he gets the
millions of dollars he's requesting. So naturally Oliver Reed, Stuart
Whitman and Jim Mitchum are called in to use their manliness to put an
end to the madness. Will they succeed? "Give me back my son!!!!!!"...is
what you won't be hearing in this tame, mediocre outing. Once again
we've fallen prey to what we call "Lone Tiger Syndrome" - that being
where we see a movie because of its stellar cast, and then are
disappointed because many familiar B-movie names do not necessarily a
good movie make. Fan favorite Jim Mitchum is decent as the cowboy
Vietnam vet Tracker (great name) but he doesn't get enough screen time
to develop his character, a common problem in these "star-studded"
affairs. We also love Oliver Reed, but, inexplicably, he resembles
Jerry Lewis in the scenes where he wears sunglasses. A lot of his
dialogue concerns his drink orders. We'll leave it at that. Stuart
Whitman is always a professional, and Deborah Raffin of Death Wish 3
(1985) fame is onboard as the classic (and pretty cliché) female
reporter. The standout character, once again, is Paul Koslo as the
baddie. He strongly resembles Kurt Russell, and does a great job (not
quite as great as his turn in The Annihilators 1985, but once again, he
actually had screen time in that one).
While there are a handful of okay kill scenes and maybe a few chases (and one exploding helicopter), this movie is filled with, well...filler, and the whole outing is stodgy, kind of like The Hit Team (1971). The movie doesn't fulfill the potential of the cast, and it's just not exciting enough. The killer Indian should have had some goons, but perhaps the budget couldn't allow for them because all the stars had to be paid first. Yet again we come back to the fact that there's no one, singular character we care about. It's all kind of a jumble with the multiple characters. Sure, Koslo tells his enemies they have to "pay the wind", which is a precursor to Red Scorpion 2 (1994), but sadly the proceedings are slow and yawn-inducing.
As for the tape itself...no one sings the praises of Vestron more than we do, but they botched this one. It's a horribly obvious pan-and-scan disgrace. They make it seem like the camera is resting on the seat of an exercise rowing machine that someone is tipping up, then tipping back. At least they used one of the more accurate of this movie's many titles. Most of the others make it seem like it's going to be a horror movie of some kind. If you do ever check this movie out, unfortunately we recommend NOT to view the Vestron tape.
Featuring the song "Victor's Theme: Shoot Him" by none other than Roger McGuinn and Patrick Ferrell, Ransom leaves a lot to be desired. We've certainly seen a lot worse, but we wish the powerhouse cast would have done something more worthy of their talents.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A sniper clandestinely jaunts around a city, randomly killing people
and demanding that he be paid a ransom in order to stop. In response, a
take-no-prisoners, rough-around-the-edges law enforcer steps up to take
down the threat by any mans necessary.
Sound familiar? If you think I'm talking about Dirty Harry, you're right. I'm also talking about "The Ransom," which I myself saw under the title "Maniac!" and have also seen under "Assault on Paradise" and "The Town that Cried Terror!" (the distributors seemed unusually fond of their exclamation points). It was a trend in the 1970s and early 80s for hack directors to churn out low-grade knock-offs of successful, high-budget fare in attempts to cash in on the craze; we still see this phenomenon today with direct-to-video flicks that were tossed together in response to some pop-phenomenon (case in point, the direct-to-DVD "Snakes on a Train" and "Zombies on a Plane" made in apparently two weeks in order to prey on the interest generated by the "Snakes on a Plane" phenom). However, in the 70s/80s, these movies actually made it into the theaters, and more often than not they starred people that the audience actually recognized.
The movie is rather tame by 70s standards; there's really not that much blood to speak of, no nudity (that I can recall), and limited profanity. In a year that saw some of the nastiest of the exploitation nasties hit the screen, "Maniac!" is notable for being more silly than sleazy. Even if it had been produced independent of "Dirty Harry," the script, on its own merits, is one massive exercise in corniness. Start off with the fact that the sniper here is a disgruntled former competitive swimmer named Victor who has a bone to pick with the United States because of Vietnam-- I think. His motives are never really addressed in the movie itself, and are left to be explained by the film's closing song, an obscure Byrds number. To show his solidarity with the disenfranchised, Victor dresses up like a Native American and talks in pseudo-mystic metaphors; oh yeah, and instead of using bullets, he kills his victims with a jacked-up crossbow. He's apparently also got an accomplice who dies halfway through the movie in what's supposed to be some kind of mid-film twist, but it's so poorly executed and messy that it's not really clear what's going on. I got the impression that it was supposed to be the narrative equivalent of Harry finding out that he has to let the Scorpio Killer go free halfway through "Dirty Harry." Even as I write this I'm not certain if there was really another guy or not, and if so, who the hell he was and where the hell he came from.
In order to bring Victor down, the townsfolk retain the services of Nick McCormick (Oliver Reed), a rough-and-tumble detective who's so macho that he can make a woman willingly go to bed with him by pulling a gun on her, holding it at crotch level and telling her it's loaded (Reed's "ladykiller" scenes come across as parodies of the misogyny rife in 1950s lad culture; I'd call it clever satire if I weren't so sure that it was unintentional). The movie never really explains where Nick came from; we're just supposed to presume that all corrupt land barons read "Soldier of Fortune" magazine and are familiar with its want-ads.
Judging by his performance, Reed didn't seem to particularly care where he was going to end up after this. It's often hard to tell whether or not he's sober; there's parts of the movie where it becomes almost impossible to focus on the plot, as Reed's blatant drunkenness takes center stage. Most of his dialogue is delivered in a tooth-clenched growl that is either Reed acting very poorly while sober or very good while intoxicated. He's also inexplicably on the verge of breaking out into a body-drenching sweat in several sequences, even when men of comparable weight and wearing similar clothing have visibly dry skin, another indicator that the sauce was driving his performance just as much as any actor's motivation. Nevertheless, given the material, Reed actually does a pretty decent job. Hammered or not, taken tongue-in-cheek, Reed's fun to watch here.
The movie unfolds sloppily, with mediocre action sequences mixed in with bad subplots about corrupt businessmen and promiscuous TV reporters. There are some car chases, a fairly tense cat-and-mouse sequence involving aforementioned corrupt businessman and Victor, and eventually a kind of boring mountaintop climax that employs the ridiculous cliché of the bad guys killing one another off and allowing the hero to walk off into the sunset with clean hands. The action sequences are actually the highlight of the movie, as whatever money could have been spent on a competent writer and sober actors was apparently dumped into the film's rather impressive location shoots and cinematography. Much of the action takes place in the mountains of Phoenix, AR, and the camera crew was at least adept enough to give us some incredible eye candy.
It's hard to tell while watching it if it ended the careers of everyone involved, or if they all knew that they had reached the end of the line and intentionally chose this project out of either desperation or as a means of career suicide. The director, Richard Compton, had a minor success a few years prior with "Macon County Line," a western-exploitation film; after this, he spent the remainder of his career directing episodes of TV series. Granted, some of them are top-notch--his "Star Trek: The Next Generation" effort, "Haven," is a highlight of that series' first season. Still, it seems to be a step down to go from writing and directing your own movies to hopping around different TV series.
If you're looking for cheap entertainment and happen to find this, either on VHS or bootlegged on DVD, pick it up; it's worth an afternoon.
This killer MANIAC is an Injun who brings down two cops with an arsenal of arrows, only to be wanted and captured by local authorities. Want to find out the rest of the story? Then sit back and stay comfy out of this dumb and boring thriller that reveals a wrongful identity of lameness. Otherwise, I've just saved you a great deal of 90 minutes from this! And no, this isn't the Caroline Munro bloodbath classic that would consume your everyday life forever.
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