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A simple self-destructive drifter and tough small-time boxer with a brain injury that could kill him meets and falls for a cute beach carnival owner, Ruby, but also befriends a sleazy friendly criminal, Wesley, who's planing a big score.
Michael Bosworth is a psychotic criminal who is about to go on trial however, he seduces his lawyer into helping him escape. But as they try to make their getaway, she's left behind. He decides to wait for her to come to him, so he decides to hide at the house of the Cornells. Now it appears that the Cornells have problems of their own. The husband and wife are separated. And there's an FBI agent after them who is using the lawyer to lead them to Bosworth. Written by
After the financial disaster that was HEAVEN'S GATE, Michael Cimino was on a warpath to prove he was still a legitimate filmmaker. He subsequently made the overwrought YEAR OF THE DRAGON, THE SICILIAN and a remake of DESPERATE HOURS in the 1980s. All of those films bombed at the B.O. and his credibility never really recovered. Of all three films he directed in the 80s, DESPERATE HOURS is, by far, the worst. The movie is bad, bad, bad. The movie actually reflects its title. It's truly desperate.
Like the director, the film wants to be taken seriously and yet it's woefully misguided with overwrought acting, leaden direction that rarely makes any sense and a script that's totally outdated and is divorced from logic. As I've said, the movie wants to be taken seriously but every attempt of seriousness is quickly shot down with remarkably ludicrous details. For instance, when David Morse is alone in the wilderness and he's running away from the police, the whole moment is (oddly) directed with reverence but then, as Morse is heading towards a gas station, he meets two buxom bimbos who are dressed in such ridiculous clothes (they look like they just stepped out of a Playboy spread) that the director's attempt at reverence is destroyed by the unexpected sight of those two women who just didn't belong in the movie. I'm sure someone got laid from hiring those two women. Arf!
And then there's the whole way Kelly Lynch is treated in the movie. What an embarrassing role. She didn't deserve to be treated like that. I love Leonard Maltin's description of what is done to her character: kamikaze disrobing.
But topping everything, even the dreadful music or scenery chewing from Mickey Rourke or Anthony Hopkins, is Lindsay Crouse's performance, which can only be described as being out of this world. The way she talks, enunciates her dialogue, the way her character is directed, well, the whole thing is totally perplexing. I've tried to come up with a way to describe her acting/role but I can't. Remember Dolores Fuller's acting in GLEN OR GLENDA? Well, Lindsay Crouse must have taken some lessons from Dolores because her acting is identical. Personally speaking, Lindsay Crouse's acting in DH ranks up there as one of the weirdest performances ever put on screen.
I haven't seen the original version of DESPERATE HOURS but I can't imagine it's remotely close to being as dreadful as Michael Cimino's version.
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