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Deadline (1984)

R | | Action, Horror, Thriller | 1984 (USA)
A horror film about a screenwriter who loses the ability to distinguish between his fantasy world and the real world, with disastrous consequences. As he ruminates on his place in any world... See full summary »

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(screenplay), (story) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Steven Lessey
Sharon Masters ...
Elizabeth Lessey
Marvin Goldhar ...
Burt Horowitz
Jeannie Elias ...
Darlene Winters
...
Sharon Lessey
Phillip Leonard ...
Philip Lessey
Tod Woodcroft ...
David Lessey
Bev Marsh ...
Martha Lessey
Carole Pope ...
Herself (as Rough Trade)
Kevan Staples ...
Punk Rock Band Member
Rough Trade ...
Punk Rock Band Member
Mary Risk ...
Professor
Ken Camroux-Taylor ...
Moderator (as Ken Camroux)
Philip Akin ...
Student #1
...
Student #2 (as Bill Yack)
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Storyline

A horror film about a screenwriter who loses the ability to distinguish between his fantasy world and the real world, with disastrous consequences. As he ruminates on his place in any world and loses his grip, he also loses his wife and his children's respect, and critics tear him apart. The final undoing of this screenwriter is a deadline that must be met at all costs, costs that perhaps are too great. Written by Ørnås

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His obsession was to create the ultimate horror story... his curse was to live it.


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R | See all certifications »
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1984 (USA)  »

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CAD 850,000 (estimated)
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2.35 : 1
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Trivia

Shot in 1979, but not released until five years after it was made. See more »

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Referenced in The Big Box: The Body Shop (2010) See more »

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Everlasting Love
by Dwayne Ford
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User Reviews

 
Hot mess
16 April 2016 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This weird Canadian quasi-horror film, about a writer of horror films whose life is falling apart at the height of his commercial success, is disjointed and crude in many respects. By accident, it winds up being pretty much exactly what the protagonist bemoans he's being forced by market pressure to create over and over again: A crass exercise in gory genre nonsense unimproved by much in the way of guiding intelligence, logic or ideas. Still, it's not at all your usual horror movie, and the ways in which it's bad are kind of interesting in themselves.

The dominant element in "Deadline" isn't its horror content (though there are plenty of scenes from the hero's fictional work arbitrarily tossed in, involving killer nuns, bloody shower deaths, et al.), but its shrill misanthropy. The protagonist isn't an especially sympathetic figure—he's often defensive, egotistical and rude—but the movie makes sure everyone around him is much worse. While he may neglect his children somewhat in his obsessive attention to work, his awful wife (who has no such commitments, unless apparent infidelity counts) neglects them out of sheer boredom and selfishness, then rails at him for being a bad parent. She's a one- dimensional shrew. Equally shrill and obnoxious are his producer, his new movie's prima-donna star, the students who criticize his work as worthless exploitation when he's given a university award (though he secretly knows they're right)…nearly everyone here is demanding, shallow and parasitical. Even his kids are directed to act in a sort of constant-tantrum mode, though admittedly we're meant to understand that this is the fault of bad parenting.

Of course eventually, after a tragic event, the writer hero snaps tether and can no longer distinguish beyond his imaginary horror and real life. This is supposed to be his mentally unhinged reaction against a world that continues to press him into ever-more-violent, disgusting, soulless (but lucrative) creations, insensitive to his disillusionment and trauma. Like everything else in "Deadline," however, this is handled in such an over-the-top, simplistic way it can't be taken seriously.

The film's writer-director Mario Azzopardi only made one feature (in his native Malta) before this, then went on to a very long, still-active mainstream career in (mostly) Canadian TV. Given that, it's hard not to see "Deadline" as a likely last gasp of artist-as-an-angry-young-man spleen. (He was just 30 when he made it, though for whatever reason the film wasn't released for another five years.) It's a fairly incoherent statement of that type, but it sure has a lot of rancor to vent. The earlier horror stuff is so pointedly gratuitous it's possible it's just there to create a commercially viable package. But the loathing directed at the film industry and at the hero's wife is so central here that one can only imagine Azzopardi had suffered some not-atypical embittering career setbacks and a very bitter divorce when he conceived this movie. No idea if that's true, but it's as good an explanation of "Deadline's" peculiar, vehement, watchably odd content as any. It's like a slicker, less grungy equivalent to Abel Ferrera's concurrent (in filming if not release) "The Driller Killer," which similarly poses as a horror movie but is mostly an expression of the filmmaker's griping that nobody appreciates a real artist, and how awful people are in general.


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