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Reindeer Games (2000)
The reindeer should have done a rewrite...
As an aspiring screenwriter myself, there is no element of a screenplay that bugs me more than a plot twist that exists for the sole purpose of being a twist. Ehren Kruger is a screenwriter who is currently one of the hottest commodities on the market right now, but his work seems to rely on an approach that may have been successful in his initial efforts, but nearly leads to the self-destruction of "Reindeer Games". His "Arlington Road" was a solid, underrated little thriller and contained a twist ending so jarring and effective that one could easily overlook how contrived it really was due to its reliance on one character predicting EXACTLY what another character would do. "Scream 3" was another Kruger-penned script that contained a villain whose master plan hinged on their ability to predict the characters' actions. Alas, Kruger takes this approach to ludicrous lengths in "Reindeer Games". The story may revolve around the robbery of a casino, but it soon becomes apparent that the villains would be better off just abandoning their task and making twice as much money by starting up their own psychic network.
Not that the script's deficiencies make "Reindeer Games" unwatchable. Overall, the film is a fairly passable way to kill 100 minutes and would probably have come across better as a direct-to-video quickie. The entire project just seems rather lackluster, considering the talent involved, as the first-rate cast fails to rise above the material and John Frankenheimer's direction is unspectacular at best. The action fails to generate much in the way of excitement, due mainly to the contrived fashion through which much of it is set up (Ben Affleck's hero pours alcohol into a water pistol because he just KNOWS that the bad guy will stop to light up a cigarette before shooting him). Indeed, most of the fun comes from trying to pick apart the absurdities in Kruger's script.
One of the liabilities of loading a story with many surprise twists is that they have to be adequately explained in order for them to make sense. Unfortunately, this has a negative effect on the film's pacing as the characters are constantly forced to stop and talk about the twist that has just occurred so that everything will hold together. Its reminiscent of the classic James Bond moment where the villain explains his grand scheme to the audience, except that it is repeated FIVE OR SIX TIMES throughout "Reindeer Games". This all leads us to our twist ending, which like Kruger's previous works, relies on a psychic villain predicting exactly what the hero will do. However, it doesn't take much to realize that the villain's whole scheme is ridiculously convoluted and more trouble than it's worth, especially since the hero's participation is not exactly vital to its success. It does not evolve out of the logic of the plot or the characters. As stated in the opening paragraph, it is twist that exists for the sole purpose of being a twist. However, it is a twist that succeeds at giving yours truly a rather "twisted" viewpoint. While "Reindeer Games" is strictly a mediocre piece of work, it can still be fun viewing for those of us who love sitting back and poking fun at the lunacy of screenplays such as this. You know that's an activity that I find that hard to resist...
Don't be ashamed, just watch it...
I don't think I'll ever be able to explain the appeal of Italian slasher/giallo films. I often enjoy the hell out of them, but it's safe to say that I don't have a prayer in hell of ever getting anyone I know to ever share my sentiments. Their negative reactions often stem from the bad acting, laughable writing and slow pacing that plague these works and the scary part is that I have a hard time disagreeing with any of their complaints. Sergio Martino's "Torso" is definitely a film for which all these negative detractors apply to, but I'd be lying if I said it didn't provide its fair share of entertainment.
It would be best to classify "Torso" as a middle-of-the-road entry in the popular slasher/giallo genre. It is certainly watchable, but is not particularly invigorating and pales in comparison to the best works of Dario Argento. While Argento's films were often plagued with more than their fair share of deficiencies when it came to script and pacing, the director had a gift for drawing one so deeply into his visual nightmares that any need to apply logic to the proceedings was non-existent. Films of this genre have to deliver truly startling sequences in order for the viewer to look past their shortcomings. While "Torso" does contain a few sequences like that (the last third's cat-and-mouse game between the heroine and the killer is especially effective), its pacing is too slack for it to be truly involving and certain elements of the film are just plain laughable. In particular, a flashback sequence to a traumatic childhood event makes for the silliest, most ludicrously funny explanation for a serial killer's behaviour that I have ever seen. But as I stated, hilarious moments like that can also be contributing factors to my enjoyment of these films. So when all is said and done, "Torso" is worthy viewing for fans of the Italian slasher genre. Enjoy it if you can, but do not worry too much if neither you nor anyone else you know understands why.
"Moonraker" is far from a boring film, but I can think of few action pictures that have ever been more frustrating. What we have here is the opportunity for a tight, exciting, gloriously spectacular 007 adventure, but due to the filmmakers' decision to substitute juvenile humour for thrills at every opportunity, the final result is sporadically enjoyable at best, placing this overblown entry on the very bottom rung of the Bond ladder (well, the official Bond ladder anyway - at least it's still miles ahead of "Never Say Never Again"). Keen observers may notice that the end credits of "The Spy Who Loved Me" stated "James Bond Will Return in 'For Your Eyes Only'". And if you'll pardon the pun, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out the success of a little film called "Star Wars" inspired the producers to send 007 to outer space instead.
Needless to say, that decision was a far cry from Ian Fleming's original vision. His original novelization of "Moonraker" was a solid page-turner about an megalomaniacal villain's scheme to fire a nuclear rocket into the heart of London and even contained a scene where Bond almost makes the shocking decision to sacrifice his own life to save the city. This time, the villain wants to wipe out all life on earth and start his own utopia of perfect human specimens. Of course, ludicrous storylines like this are what make the Bond franchise what it is, but this is probably the only entry in the series that actually manages to be MORE silly than the "Austin Powers" films that spoof it. The first half hour gives an indication of how much better the film might have been had it played things more straight. Things start off dynamically with a breathtaking sky-diving sequence that is undoubtedly one of the best teasers in the series and also earns high marks later on for a scene in which Bond is trapped helplessly on a G-force simulator. It is one of the very few instances in the series where 007 is left too shaken up to even utter a one-liner, but unfortunately, this is the ONLY moment in the film where an action setpiece is not completely obliterated by an overuse of low, cornball humour and juvenile sight gags.
By the time "Moonraker" has reached its outer space finale, all suspense has been drained away and the flashy battle sequence, while undoubtedly expensive, is pretty underwhelming, especially when compared to the climactic setpieces in "The Spy Who Loved Me". The supporting cast also does little to enhance the proceedings. Lois Chiles is awfully wooden as the aptly-named heroine, Dr. Holly Goodhead, and Michel Lonsdale, despite having a great deal of witty dialogue ("Take good care of Mr. Bond. See that some harm comes to him"), is one of the more dull Bond villains, mainly because he speaks in monotone throughout the entire film and doesn't even seem to truly relish his evil schemes. And then there's the character of Jaws, who was arguably the most memorable Bond villain of them all in "TSWLM", but has his credibility completely shattered here. The character is now portrayed as an inane buffoon who could never stop 007 if his life depended on it, and a scene midway through in which he suddenly falls head-over-heels in love has got to be the most embarrasing moment in the entire series, bar none! As you can imagine, I didn't much care about anything that happened in the film after that, which pretty much sums why "Moonraker" is so frustrating. 007 has always held a license to be as he silly as he wants, but this particular entry demonstrates that boundaries DO have to be drawn somewhere. You know you're in the trouble when it gets to the point where the appearance of Mini-Me would lend more credibility to the proceedings!
A View to a Kill (1985)
The most underrated Bond
Most 007 fans and non-fans alike consider this final hurrah for Roger Moore to be near the bottom of the barrel as far as the long-running series goes, but this Bond fanatic has never understood why. It certainly doesn't do much to distinguish itself from its counterparts and borrows a tad too much from "Goldfinger" (the villain's obsession with gold is replaced with microchips, which is obviously a harder obsession for the viewer to identify with), but it's slick and entertaining, and also functions as a fairly good send-off for Mr. Moore. "A View to a Kill" somehow manages to incorporate the campy, over-the-top elements that characterizes Moore's earlier entries in the series and still take itself seriously enough to still function fairly well as an exciting action-thriller, on the level of Moore's more straightforward works, like "For Your Eyes Only".
Of course, the fact that Christopher Walken delivers one of the first of his many, many delightful villainous performances helps take things up a notch. Walken's portrayal of the evil Zorin was heavily criticized by Bond fans when the film first came out, but as the years have gone by, it has earned more appreciation and respect as it helped establish Walken as the best psychopath in Hollywood. The scene in which he double-crosses his own workers by machine-gunning them all is classic Walken. Grace Jones also makes a memorable villainess as the muscular May Day, though the film is heavily weakened by Tanya Roberts' truly awful portrayal of the heroine, which puts her in the "Hall of Shame" ranks alongside Jill St. John ("Diamonds Are Forever") and Britt Ekland ("The Man With the Golden Gun")as the dumbest, most poorly acted bimbos of the Bond universe. Her standout moment is near the end when she excitedly rushes to embrace Bond, and somehow fails to notice that a giant blimp is sneaking up from behind to kidnap her.
But, like all Bond films, it is the technical elements that determine whether it will succeed, and "View to a Kill" more than passes the test. John Barry's score here is one of his best, and even though you'd think that a Duran Duran title song would become quite dated today, their theme still remains one of the most exciting in the series. While there are some rather slow stretches in the story (especially a long, rather pointless stretch near the beginning where Bond is a guest Zorin's estate), "View" really delivers the goods with its action setpieces. The standouts are a spectacular opening ski sequence, a fun chase through Paris, and a wonderfully over-the-top finale in which Bond and Zorin have a fight to the death on top of the Golden Gate Bridge. However, the fire truck chase sequence that takes place two-thirds of the way through, involving a bunch of dumb cops who mistakenly think Bond is the bad guy, is more suited to a "Smokey and the Bandit" sequel and does as much to advance the plot as Sheriff Pepper's role in "Live and Let Die". It seems to be in the movie for the express purpose of stretching it out to its 130-minute running length (this is from the period when all Bond films had to run EXACTLY that long). But all flaws asides, "View to a Kill" still functions as one of the better entries of the Moore era and is arguably the most unfairly criticized of all the Bonds. After all, we don't exactly WANT 007 to deliver anything earth-shattering, do we?
Stunning suspense without sensationalism
"The Vanishing" is a thriller that is completely devoid of blood, gore or cheap shocks, and if one looks close enough, they'll also happen to notice that it doesn't contain any actual VIOLENCE either. But it is also scary as hell. Directed by George Sluizer, this foreign effort was completed in 1988, but never found a North American release until 1991 because it was feared that our audiences would never be to able handle the film's relentlessly grim and nihilistic tone. Indeed, Sluizer tried to gain more exposure for this highly acclaimed piece of work by directing a remake of it in 1993, but the film was a cliched, Hollywoodized disaster that angered fans of the original by changing its ending - which was one of the most shocking ever put into a movie. But while this grave artistic mistake effectively put an end to Sluizer's promising career, the bright side of it all is that it only upped the realization that the original "Vanishing" was one-of-a-kind masterpiece.
All traditional genre cliches are chucked right out the window in this film. The story involves a Dutchman named Rex, who goes on vacation in France with his girlfriend, Saskia. The opening scenes establish how happy this couple is, but things suddenly take a turn for the worst, when they stop off at a gas station and Saskia disappears. We soon come to realize how big a nightmare a situation like this can be as Rex searches around for her in panic, and learns the horrifying news that she was seen leaving with another man. Three years pass by and Rex is still searching for her. His obsession takes over his life and sidetracks his relationship with another woman. During the opening scenes, we catch a brief glimpse of Raymond Lemorne, the man responsible for Saskia's disappearance, and soon after, the story switches to his perspective. It is here that "The Vanishing" establishes itself as a thriller that will be unlike all the rest, as Lemorne is presented as one of the most frightening but complex villains ever put on film. A successful and seemingly ordinary teacher with a loving wife and two daughters, his villainous actions is only provoked by that the fact that there is, quite simply, nothing that can technically stop him from doing so. He is very smart, but not exactly perfect at what he does. There are scenes in this movie that manage to be both funny and chilling at the same time as Lemorne practices his kidnapping routine, and then pathetically tries to lure young women into his car without any success. His scheme fails many times until he meets Saskia.
This may sound like pretty nihilistic stuff, but as stated in the opening paragraph, it is all done with a complete absence of violence and gore. Much of "The Vanishing"'s impact is produced from what we imagine rather than what we can see. The film may not seem that suspenseful at first glance, but the tension builds up so subtly that by the time the film is over, one is surprised at how drained they actually are. Sluizer's storytelling genius stems from the fact that the audience is so anxious to find out what happened to Saskia, yet when the truth finally arrives, we are almost wishing he hadn't told us. Even Rex, who has had his life completely taken over by his obsession about Saskia's fate, ends up realizing that he would have been better off not knowing either. I will not go into the specifics about the ending of the film, only to say that it is one of the most shocking you will ever see - and therefore, one of the best. Unlike most twist endings, it manages to pull off the supremely difficult feat of seeming both surprising and inevitable at the same time. Even if you can't stand the concept of subtitles, all fans of the thriller genre are urged to check the original "Vanishing" out at all costs. It will make you think twice before ever making contact with a stranger again.
Swamp Thing (1982)
Horror directors + the "PG" rating = Boredom
With the monstrous success of his wonderful "Scream" films, Wes Craven was finally given the opportunity to do something he's been itching to do for the past 25 years: venture outside the horror genre. He finally got the opportunity to direct some "lighter" material for once, and the final result was "Music of the Heart", a "feel good" movie starring Meryl Streep as a woman who teaches the violin to underprivileged schoolchildren (!). Despite my attitude towards this subject matter, I shall reserve judgement on Craven's latest career choice since I have not yet seen the film (and have very little desire to do). I will just wish Mr. Craven success in his new genre and hope that his venture into "lighter" material is much more successful than his previous attempt in 1982, which gave us a lackluster film called "Swamp Thing".
Prior to "Music of the Heart", this was the only "PG"-rated film Craven ever did, and was his attempt to appeal to younger audiences. Unfortunately, the end result is a very cheap and sloppy picture. Now, Craven is a director who can actually use cheapness and sloppiness to enhance the effectiveness of his films (see "Last House on the Left", an all-time fave), but here, his shortcomings leave you frustrated and often bored. The film is marred by a very lame and corny screenplay, and (as you might've guessed) unconvincing makeup effects. Of course, any film involving a guy running around in a rubber suit can be fun, but Craven makes the fatal mistake of taking his material way too seriously. Shooting this film in the swamp was reportedly a real nightmare for him, thanks to poor planning by the studio, and when he realized that the conditions would make it impossible to make a movie that was convincing enough for one to take seriously, there should have been some major re-writes to the script. Still, despite the flaws at the production level, the actors are still fun to watch. Louis Jourdan is wonderfully campy as the mad villain, Dr. Arcane, and who wouldn't enjoy the sight of the bouncy heroine, Adrienne Barbeau, running around for half the picture? And, of course, the film also earns a few merit points for the most welcome presence of David Hess, as Arcane's main henchman, though the "PG" rating prevents him from doing what he does best. Overall, "Swamp Thing" is a film that young kids may enjoy, but those who have sat through and loved "Last House" or "The Hills Have Eyes" are going to be in for a huge letdown.
Ying hung boon sik II (1987)
Better moments make a better sequel
The original "A Better Tomorrow" changed the face of action films forever. A shoot-em-up gangster melodrama from a then-little-known filmmaker named John Woo, "Tomorrow"'s rampant violence and stylish action scenes instantly established Woo as one of the greatest action directors in the world, and the result was one of Hong Kong's highest grossers ever. After the trend-setting scene where Chow Yun-Fat burst into a room and gunned down a group of bad guys in all sorts of stylish and inventive fashions, everybody in Hong Kong had to go out and buy a trench coat like the one he wore, which guaranteed the actor instant stardom as well. Naturally, a sequel had to be made right away, and in 1987 came "A Better Tomorrow II". You can tell it was rushed into production because it's a little rough around the edges (which probably explains why John Woo has never made another sequel since). And, unfortunately, most of the copies you are likely find of this movie will be marred by atrocious subtitles, which are hard to read, chopped off at the sides of the screen, and are fraught with spelling errors. You're not even two minutes into the movie before you see "hopefully" spelled "hope_lully". But bad subtitles do not ruin a film where what you see on the screen is too explosive to be described with words.
This was the film where John Woo demonstrated that he could just go all-out, and two of his works that followed this, "The Killer" and "Hard Boiled", are placed by many among the ranks of the greatest action films of all time. While "A Better Tomorrow II" is certainly a dynamic piece of work by Woo, it will never be looked upon as a strong example of action movie storytelling. The plot is often confusing and lazily constructed, and commits the ultimate "sin of sequels" when Chow Yun-Fat is introduced into the story. You may recall that his character, Mark, was killed at the end of the original "Better Tomorrow", so how can he return for the sequel? Why, by saying that Mark had a twin brother, of course. Normally, absurd contrivances like that are enough to destroy the credibility of an entire movie, but all is instantly forgiven in Chow's introductory scene when he responds to a mafioso kingpin's bullying by forcing him to eat his rice. It's a delightful, hilarious sequence, and NO other action star could've pulled it off. After watching it, I was quite happy that Mark had a twin brother.
It's the individual moments like that which make "A Better Tomorrow II" an action classic. On an overall scale, it may not be as good as its predecessor, but the moments that do work turn it into a much more exciting film. And boy, when this film works, it WORKS! The final twenty minutes may be the best you see in ANY action film! A very powerful death scene is immediately followed by an absolutely incredible finale in which the heroes barge into the home of the villain and deliver carnage like you've never seen it before. The heroes use guns, grenades and even a samurai sword to mow down the opposition and, by the end, there are more bodies than one can count. This is the first action set piece in which John Woo just decided to go completely berserk, though it would certainly not be the last. Of course, everything in "Better Tomorrow II" is over-the-top melodrama and would probably seem laughable if seen in an American action picture, but what sets the Hong Kong genre apart from all others is that the sheer energy and passion in the filmmaking can make even the hokiest of situations work wonders. And at its best, "Better Tomorrow II" does work wonders. It is so easy to overlook a film's flaws when it makes the can't-miss decision to deliver the goods in the most electrifying ways possible.
Cannibal Holocaust (1980)
If you thought "Blair Witch" was disturbing...
A small group of filmmakers vanish in the wilderness while in the midst of making a documentary and the only evidence of what happened to them is seen through their recovered film footage. Sound familiar? "The Blair Witch Project" may have been a well-deserving smash hit, but what few people failed to realize was that its so-called "revolutionary" story device of terror-through-recovered-film-footage had been utilized twenty years before in a notorious Italian cannibal film. Directed by Ruggero Deodato, "Cannibal Holocaust" is arguably the king of its sub-genre and may well be the most disturbing film ever made. While "Blair Witch" left such an unsettling effect by showing nothing, "Holocaust" does so by showing EVERYTHING. There is no act of depravity that it is not displayed at some point in this film. However, direct comparison to the "Blair Witch Project" is unfair as these are both drastically different films. "Holocaust" actually contains a sizable back story about the search for the film crew with the actual recovered footage taking up less than half the running time. Deodato uses this story as a catalyst for a commentary on the media's manipulation of the truth for the purposes of sensationalism, and while some would argue that the final result is nothing but pure exploitation, there's no denying the film's power.
Former porn star Robert Kerman plays the film's protagonist, Professor Monroe, who leads the expedition to recover the missing footage, and is actually quite good in the role. His performance is vital to providing at least some comfort within the audience since the character provides the sole voice of reason in the film. When ratings-hungry TV producers try to use the footage as the basis for a prime time special, he declares that it would be inhumane since the actions that the film crew have pulled to get that footage are nothing short of heinous. Indeed, when all the footage is finally shown, the foursome does nothing to inspire any sympathy for what has happened to them. When the natives prove to be less interesting than they had hoped for their documentary, the crew decides to destroy their village and burn some of them alive in hopes of inspiring a war with a rival tribe, which in turn, would provide them with some much better footage. Eventually, they go too far, and the natives end up resorting to cannibalism ONLY as a response to the barbaric actions of the white man. Professor Monroe sums it all up at the end when he states "I wonder who the real cannibals are". One of the main criticisms of "The Blair Witch Project" was that it seemed very unlikely that the characters would still keep the camera rolling in the midst of their terrifying plight. In "Holocaust", the film crew is so obsessed with gaining fame and notoriety that we can believe it when they stand by in the background and film their friends being raped and butchered. They may not make it out of the jungle alive, but at least they'll leave some very memorable footage behind.
With all this talk about the story, I have yet to even get into what the film is long remembered for and that's the extreme violence and gore. And they are indeed quite shocking and horrifying. Granted, the "recovered footage" gimmick provides the filmmakers with the opportunity for some shaky camera work and an excuse to cover up the fact that many of their effects may not be technically proficient. Yet the viewer is still provided with plenty of moments that are sure to make one squirm, such as rape with a sharp rock, a foetus being prematurely ripped from a native woman's womb and buried in mud, amputation and dismemberment, and the only direct on-camera castration that I can ever recall seeing. The most controversial element of the movie, however, is undoubtedly its abundant amount of violence to animals - which is 100 % unfaked! While the early scenes of humans butchering live animals provide a very interesting parallel to the climactic footage of the cannibals butchering the humans, the fact that Deodato actually murdered some real wildlife in order to get this footage cannot be justified. However, despite "Holocaust"'s rather exploitive elements, one cannot overlook how truly effective the final result is. The film's direction and storytelling are simply top-notch, and I've never seen a movie convey the tension and uneasy atmosphere of the jungle better than this one. "Holocaust" is also blessed with a truly haunting and memorable musical score, which will stay with you long after the film is over. While I wouldn't urge casual viewers to run out and find a copy of this near-masterpiece, I'd highly recommend it to all horror and exploitation fans to see it as this film will surely test their limits like never before. If nothing else, it makes me relieved that the camera got turned off before we could see what the Blair Witch did to those kids...
For a DTV, it's PDF!
I obviously didn't have high hopes for "From Dusk Till Dawn 2" after its opening reel. Like the infamous "Congo", it makes the grave mistake of killing off the multi-talented Bruce Campbell in the first five minutes, and also does the same thing to Tiffani-Amber Thiessen, despite the fact that all the ads for the movie had mislead one into believing that she has a sizable role in it. The fact that their death scene has absolutely NOTHING to do with the main storyline doesn't help much either, but amazingly, "FDTD 2" eventually makes up for these miscalculations and becomes a surprisingly fun direct-to-video quickie. Whatever flaws it possesses are redeemed by the enthusiasm of the cast and the filmmakers, who probably realized that they were making an inconsequential film, but seemed to have had a ball doing so nonetheless. It's directed by Scott Spiegel, who co-wrote "Evil Dead 2" and has been a long-time associate of Sam Raimi's, and he gets help on the script from Duane Whitaker, who has a major role in the film and is probably best known for playing the bizarre pawn shop owner, Maynard, in "Pulp Fiction". The two of them may not have the same polish as a Quentin Tarantino-Robert Rodriguez combination, but they both have an obvious love for the genre and at the occasional moment in the film, some fresh new ideas to add to it.
The original "From Dusk Till Dawn" was one of the most enjoyable genre efforts of the 90s, which unfortunately, received a lot of criticism from non-horror fans who thought that Tarantino's screenplay started off as a potentially interesting drama that sold out midway through, opting instead to become a over-the-top gorefest in the second half. Of course, most genre aficionados found those horror elements so entertaining that they didn't care at all about the detour in Tarantino's script. Of course, "FDTD 2" doesn't near measure up to its predecessor, but if there's one thing that it does to improve upon it, it's that it doesn't even try to pretend that it has the potential to be anything else, and just presents itself as a good ol' horror outing, mixed in with a fairly standard heist story. It also helps, however, that the characters are more sharply written and the dialogue is more witty than you'd expect for a flick of this kind. The fine B-movie cast somehow makes you care in spite of yourself, and by the time the movie reached its climactic bloodbath at the bank, I was surprised by how much I was into the film. But when all is said and done, what really matters is if the horror elements deliver, and Spiegel does just that, providing some very inventive death scenes and some show-off Raimi-esque camera work (including a neat point-of-view shot of a key going into a keyhole). Sure, the gore and the F/X aren't exactly up to the "Saving Private Ryan" level of realism, but it's not like they were that great in the original either. It's not the slickness of the production, but the enthusiasm and spirit of it all that matters. And since "From Dusk Till Dawn 2" has that kind of spirit and delivers what it promises, it comes across as a direct-to-video production that's pretty-damn-fun!
Wild Man (1989)
For those who watch porn for the laughs
"Wild Man" is a porn flick that's trapped in an action picture's body. It doesn't contain enough graphic sex to qualify as a genuine X-rated feature, but the quality of the filmmaking makes you feel like you are watching one. It's probably the closest thing to pornography that you will ever find on the shelf of a Blockbuster store, which, incidentally, is where I discovered the film. As you probably have already guessed, "Wild Man" is directed by a veteran adult film director, Fred Lincoln, who has hundreds of titles to his, er... credit. While I know absolutely nothing about his X-rated work (and the entire business in general), I decided to check out this title for curiousity's sake, since I had admired Lincoln's performance in the Wes Craven classic, "Last House on the Left". Why he decided to stray from his genre and make a genuine action movie is beyond me. He certainly pours all his directorial energies into the sex scenes in the picture, but doesn't seem to have the slightest idea about how to do anything else.
Of course, since "Wild Man" is completely inept in all respects, it is the source of much entertainment value. Those who like to watch X-rated films just to poke fun at the production values will find much to laugh at here and won't have to be worry about being turned off by any hardcore sex. Predictably, the title character, Eric Wilde, turns out to be the stiffest, most boring secret agent in the history of cinema, though you'll be hard-pressed to ever find a movie character more hyperactive than Tommy Lee, the over-the-top villain whose scenery-chewing makes a typical Ric Flair interview from World Championship Wrestling look like a model of subtlety. The action scenes in this film are so badly staged that at one point, when a stuntman falls off a roof, you can actually see a crew member's hands tossing a mattress right in front of the camera for him to land on!! Lincoln himself even has a brief cameo as a wise old INDIAN (!) who gives the hero a special ring that makes him invincible. After hearing the description of that scene, I kinda doubt you're very anxious for me go into the mechanics of the plot. I'd love to give "Wild Man" a hearty recommendation to all "bad film" lovers out there, but they should be warned that it somehow manage to stretch its feeble storyline out to 110 MINUTES, which is quite a long time to have to endure a film of its calibre. The reason that Ed Wood's films have always had such lasting appeal is because most of them run barely over an hour long, which doesn't allow them the chance to become tedious, which "Wild Man" certainly does. But when all is said and done, it's pretty damn hard to resist a movie with a cover box that says, "He's a pistol that's always cocked" - especially when the film itself is so half-cocked.