The Ambulance (1990)
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Josh is convinced something is awry, but doesn't pay too much attention to it at first (in fact, as bizarre as the story becomes, he's so matter-of-fact about everything. Him and everyone else). The more people he confronts about the strange ambulance that conveniently seems to arrive when he's talking to them but never seems to be around when he needs to prove it exists, the more likely those people are going to wind up dead because of the ambulance (actually, because of the people driving it, who are the goons for a strange doctor who is using his victims for a strange medical experiment).
Josh's only hope, besides himself (a guy who will soon be quite immune to pain as he gets hit by cars, jumps through barred doors, is drugged, and finally beat by a junkyard gang), is the red head cop Sandra Malloy who turns up after her boss, Spencer (James Earl Jones in an even funnier part as the disbeliever), turns up missing. And if they don't act fast, the ambulance will show up for them, and the only chance of stopping it will be lost.
All in all, the story is bizarre, but the movie is much more of a comedy than a thriller in sort of that 'After Hours' style of comedy. Josh appears to be absolutely crazy to those around him, babbling about some weird ambulance that is out to murder people. But he seems to dismiss the seriousness of it, just hoping to save the girl and get through the day, and not much else. Eric Roberts and Red Buttons, too, made a good team, albeit a brief one with Red Buttons as Elias Zacharai, the fast-talking newspaper reporter who befriends Josh and has similar convictions about the hospital staff trying to drug up patients and keep them against his will, but in that senile old man kind of way. He plays the reporter that wants the exclusive story on the ambulance.
Loosen up and give it a try. Though cheap, it's got some good action sequences, a decent plot, and is just overall, pretty funny. Except, for maybe the ending. It was just too easy.
The idea behind this movie is actually quite frightening; ambulances are a service that we rely on and so having one going rogue and abducting people is a frightening idea. Cohen doesn't capitalise on this, however, which is rather odd; and despite a few scenes with the maniacal doctor, there really isn't all that much horror on display. Others ideas that aren't capitalised on include the moral perspective of whether sacrificing a few people to cure millions is a righteous exorcise. But really, none of this is particularly important as I didn't want an Ingmar Bergman film anyway. Cohen has rounded up a good cast of cult actors to populate his film with. Eric Roberts is entertaining in the lead, and receives good feedback from the likes of James Earl Jones, Megan Gallagher, the amusingly named Red Buttons and the sadly underused Eric Braeden. The plot is a little choppy at times, but it generally flows well and I don't remember being bored at any time during the film. The ironic ending is a blast, and although I don't doubt that this film could have been better; it's still fun enough and I won't hesitate to recommend The Ambulance to anyone!
So, when it comes to movies like "The Ambulance" it was a "you stay home, at 10, watch your little sister and I'll go rent a movie for us." Today leaving someone that age at home and in charge would be neglect, back then it was common...and of course dad came home with a B-Movie Gem.
Why not? He always treated my sister and I like little adults and not children and his taste in movies always came down to: "I haven't seen something like this before." It's an attitude that stuck with me over the years. If it's entertaining I like it, if it's original, I like it even more.
The Ambulance, especially if you are a 10 year-old in 1990 was awesome. I mean, it had Stan Lee in it and that was BEFORE he made cameos in all the Marvel movies. AND, it was a movie about a guy that made comic books. It was like crack for a 10 year-old, I couldn't get enough if it.
Plus, it's campy as all get-out. Everything is just a little too earnest, a little too over-done and it makes for just a fun movie to watch. Right down to Darth Vader chomping on his gum in every seen.
I know, I know, it's James Earl Jones, but when you are 10, it doesn't matter, he is still Darth Vader.
It should be a cult hit and I am sure it has a little following out there somewhere. It's far from a great film, but it's still unique and campy enough to have that cult love behind it.
What can I say, I loved it! It's got some mild crude humor but most of the hilarious moments are unexpected and not at all in the dialogue, such as a sheriff dying but continuing to munch on his popcorn while he shoots at the freaky ambulance, and the reporter pulling the fire alarm and beating people up to rescue the artist. There are too many moments, even funnier, to list. Don't pass it by just because it looks like a basic medical thriller, because it's much more than that!
Like when the bad guys have to slow down the foot chase because they're getting within a few steps. And the whole scene where he's being held by the cops actually had me pissed off that I was subjected to both the implausible logic: The cops holding a witness who didn't see anything (however, they do have a description of the perp - where was THAT witness?) and the terrible acting wherein the cops are so uncooperative, I thought they were in on the scam. I saw "Restraining Order" also, and I think I will never see another Eric Roberts film again.
James Earl Jones,...whatever - the movie is bizarre, unsettling, but most of all it's an excellent pretext for Eric to unleash!
p.s.-I tend to rate movies NOT by comparing them to others but by appreciation as to what they stand for and HOW they stand for it, so it's not uncommon for me to over-grade as is the case with this(if you were to compare it to other action B-movies it would be subjective judging, but I view it as an artistic exercise, and it's quite interesting as such).
Larry Cohen's last directorial attempt at anything resembling the horror genre film is different and yet much the same as his previous outings. Gone is the gritty, semi-documentary approach, giving way to crisper editing and a fairly slick, Hollywood look. Those dismayed by that will still be pleased to know Cohen's trademark quirky humor is still present, and this time his movie is played almost completely for laughs. Yeah, Q was an intentionally absurd affair, but some of the fun was offset by that gritty look, and Gold Told me to was pretty damn serious from beginning to end. But enough about those film, how's The Ambulance? Surprisingly, despite a lame title, it's his most amusingly funny movie to date.
Eric Robert stars as Joshua Baker, a comic book artist with a crush on a woman (Janine Turner) he passes on the street everyday. Finally, he musters up the courage one day to approach her, but as he speaks to her, she suddenly collapses and is taken away by an ambulance. Josh later visits the hospital she should have gone to, but discovers no one of her first name or description ever arrived. From there, Cohen piles on an adventure story of sorts set in New York about evil doctors and ambulance attendents who are after diabetics, and one man's quest to get to the bottom of it all. Believe me, this is all more enjoyable than it might sound.
Given such a premise, it's possible this could have been played as a straight, fast-paced thriller with many twists and turns. But Cohen opts for a more comical route, and as if to ensure that we understand that, he even gives away the mystery ten minutes into the film! Yeah, I had been expecting something along the lines of a suspense/thriller, and I was initially a little disappointed to see this played out as a comedy, but quickly re-evaluating my expectations, The Ambulance really turned out to be a pretty enjoyable movie that put me through a lot of giggling fits. Yes, it's been a damn long time since I've seen a movie that opts for humor without resorting to potty jokes.
The story isn't what makes The Ambulance overall work, it's the characters, the dialogue, and the absurd situations. One particularly amusing moment is a fight between the ambulance attendents and a gang of thugs, with Roberts hilariously acting as a cheerleader while strapped to a stretcher. Another laugh-out loud scene features a desperately sick Roberts trying to hide from an approaching ambulance and shouting to his apartment neighbors to remember the attendents' faces, noting that they'll be witnesses.
The performances are mostly all pretty top-notch for what's required here. Roberts is a lot of fun as the everyday Joe trying to get to the bottom of the situation, doing all this because of a beautiful woman (the resolution of which is quite satisfying and hilarious). Watching roles like this always make me wonder how he never made the transition to Hollywood star, he's got the charisma and acting ability for it. Megan Gallagher gets in some good scenes as a tough cop who happens to believe Baker. Red Buttons as a journalist and James Earl Jones as a hard-boiled lieutenant steal a good bit of the scenes they're in, the latter doing so with his obsessive gum-chewing and sarcastic tone. Soap star Eric Braeden doesn't really get to do much, and from what I've seen here, he pretty much acts the same in everything he's in.
Entertaining as the film often is, The Ambulance isn't without its flaws and dead spots. Some scenes drag on way too long without enough laughs, specifically Roberts' little stay at the hospital, and some aspects of the movie are just too silly. For instance, the interior of the ambulance somehow has this green glow emanating from it, more like something you'd see in The Tommyknockers or the power plant in The Simpsons. That same glow is present in the villains' hideout, and yes, it still feels out of place there, too. There are a few attempts at thrills, but the chase scenes don't really generate all that much excitement, mainly because the otherwise goofy tone waters these moments down. The lines spoken immediately after the final chase, however, are good for a laugh. Plot holes are also very prevalent, as no explanation is really given for why the woman (and later Roberts himself) gets sick all of a sudden. And while we do get clarity and a resolution with the woman Roberts is searching for, we never really learn the fate of one specific minor character that was also abducted by the ambulance.
Flaws aside, I suppose I'd recommend The Ambulance, given that you go in expecting a comically-oriented thriller, a subgenre that's almost non-existent these days (unless you count Conspiracy Theory, which coincidentally, starred Roberts' sister, Julia). It's rarely dull, and I suspect the next time you see an ambulance, you'll probably have a hard time holding back a giggling fit.
Josh meet this girl on the road, that flirting with her and then Ambulance pick her up and later he goes to see her, only to find out she didn't go to hospital, then Josh tries solve what happened to her, others become involved and go missing after they picked by this Ambulance .
I don't know what to make of this movie, i found the movie very entertaining there was a lot action in this movie, with some really good dark Humor in this movie, with work well with all the action and drama in the movie
The acting is this movie could been a lot better then it was from some of the people in the cast and same could be said about the fight scenes in this movie was not that well done.
I liked how they ended the movie, it was very fitting ending of the movie.
There was one think that I did not under stand was, why was is killing people in first place, I don't I may of missed something or i had too read between the lines.
6 out of 10 well for really dark humour.
Cartoonist Josh Baker, Eric Roberts, trying to hit on and pick up Cheryl, Janine Turner, has her fall into a coma, due to a diabetic attack. Cheryl is quickly picked up by Dr. Braeden's killer ambulance never to be seen again.
Josh going to all the local hospitals finds that Ceryl wasn't admitted in any of them and when he starts snooping around. The crazy Doc has his goons out looking from him and having Josh put under the knife even though he's not a diabetic as well as being in perfect health, physically but not all that mentally.
Josh ending up in the hospital, after he's attacked by a gang of muggers, has Braeden's goons slip into the hospital disguised as police in order to kidnap him. In the hospital Josh together with his hospital room-mate NY Post reporter Elias Zacharia, Red Buttons, break out and make a run for it to the NY Post headquarters where Elias ends up getting kidnapped.
Totally outrageous movie with more holes in it then the Normandy Beaches on D-Day but still holds your attention. There's loads of fun watching the wacky acting of Roberts as well as that of NYPD Let. Spencer, James Earl Jones, who's suffering from burn-out and a string of nerves breakdowns that has his superiors wondering if he can still handle his job.
With Let. Spencer run down and run over by the homicidal ambulance, after trying to rescue the kidnapped Zacharia, Eric gets together with police officer Malloy (Magan Gallagher), who's Spencer's police secretary at the 33rd Precinct, as they track down where the ambulance is secretly parked in the disco where it's is used a a prop on the dance floor. The disco is also where Dr. Braeden's office and laboratory are hidden upstairs.
Hard to follow but still has it's moments with both Eric Roberts and Red Buttons together with Magan Gallagher putting an end to Dr. Braeden's mad plans to make the people of the city of New York guinea pigs in his insane plan to cure diabetes; by killing those who are afflicted with it.
I wish that someone would do a good, well-acted movie with a diabetic character - every other disease (AIDS, breast cancer, syphilis, etc.) has been touched on in "disease of the week" tv movies and features, but not diabetes. (Mary Tyler Moore might be a good choice to play such a character.)
Suddenly she collapses, and she's picked up by an ambulance. When Josh wants to visit her in the hospital, it appears that she hasn't been admitted in the hospital.
Josh follows the roommate of Cheryl, and she disappears after a ride in the same ambulance. It's up to Josh to solve the secret behind this strange vehicle.....
Any film that features Stan Lee as himself as a main character, James Earl Jones chewing erratically as he dies, and Eric Roberts clearly under the influence of something, begs to be seen.
Its a B movie of the highest order, and Cohen has crafted another wonderfully funny, and bonkers story.
An old Ambulance is picking up diabetics and other sorts, in order to find the cure for diseases. There is a mad doctor at the end of all this, but first Roberts has to deal with Earl Jones being angry for no reason whatsoever, a cop who knows Earl Jones dentist appointments, Red Buttons stealing the film, and of course releasing a movie the same year his sister became the biggest on the planet.
But its fun, and no matter how stupid the narrative gets, its fun plain and simple.
Its a hard film to find, but you will be glad you sought after it.
*** out of ****