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Hitchcock vs. De Palma -- The questions are answered...
"Wacko" is one of those films that audiences will either love or hate. It is dated, it is un-PC, it is crass and cruel all at the same time, but in the same sense it is a precursor to the now-popular "Scary Movie" franchise. For a PG rated film it pushes the envelope, it creates a world where one would have to have seen the film that they are spoofing, or be left in the dark. Unlike the "Scary Movie" films, "Wacko" leans away from the bathroom humor (albeit there is plenty there), but actually parodies cult films from Hitchcock, John Carpenter, De Palma, and so forth. Joe Don Baker is phenomenal. I am surprised that he didn't redefine this genre. His mannerisms, his insanity, and his surprisingly fresh take on his determined detective out to discover the truth is laugh-out-loud funny. Couple this with a fresh-faced Andrew Dice Clay jumping excitedly into the shoes of the local hipster/jock, be prepared for a wild ride. "Wacko" is fast past, absurd, and confusing all at the same time (i.e. see the talking elephant), but it isn't perfect. While two viewings continued to bring a chuckle to the room, any further viewing may be disastrous. There are some great repeatable lines, some great references, but these are coupled with some slow scenes and staged dialogue. There are moments where "Wacko" has no direction, and director Greydon Clark obviously has no idea where he is headed either. While this adds to the enjoyment of "Wacko", there was a moment where a secure storyline would have been a powerful alley to this laserdisc. Anything to keep us grounded while Clark took us around the corner, under the bridge, and into that darkened alleyway known as horror parodies.
Overall, "Wacko" needs a DVD release. This is a film that could be watched on college campus', midnight Halloween night at your local independent theater, or with a group of friends with drinks. It is one of those 80s campy horror comedies that were afraid to take chances, and I respect "Wacko" for that. Obviously, it will not win awards, but I see that it make it into the "cult cannon" any day of the week. I would not suggest repeat viewings, but at least two for the detailed humor of Joe Don Baker and Andrew Dice Clay (in this film, merely known as Andrew Clay). The humor is sharp, the dialogue less friendly, and the in today's modern world, it would not be PG rated, but thanks to the 80s it is mediocrity to its perfection.
Grade: *** out of *****
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