Severed Ties starts with an opening narration by the main character who is sitting alone in a room in a wheelchair, Harrison Harrison (Billy Morrissette, yes Harrison x2 is his name!) that goes something like this "red, blood red on white, nothing else would do. I got so desperate for the visions I would look for ways to cut myself. I wasn't always in this chair, there was a time when I could run and play but Mother never let me play. She told me I wasn't like the other boys, that I was special and besides like she always said it was too, too dangerous". He then has a sketchy incomplete flashback to when his Father died in a fire. The main bulk of the film is told in flashback. Harrison is continuing his Fathers work in a laboratory in the basement of his Mothers, Helena Harrison (Elke Sommer) large mansion. Harrison is trying to develop a serum that regenerates organs and skin. He is basing his research on reptile genes as the reptile possesses the ability to regrow parts of it's body, well apparently anyway. Harrison finally succeeds in creating the serum. Helena, along with her accomplice Dr. Hans Vaughan (Oliver Reed, he must have needed beer money badly!) tries to sell the serum to a company called 'Nordkem' for a large sum of money. Harrison is against the idea as the serum should be available for everyone. In a struggle an accident occurs and Harrisons arm is severed. Harrison uses the serum on himself and his arm instantly regenerates, wonderful he thinks at first but soon realises there are strange horrifying side-effects with the serum he hadn't counted on. A homeless man know as 'Stripes' (Garrett Morris) witnesses this and befriends Harrison. Stripes takes Harrison back to where he lives in the sewers with other homeless people. Helena and Vaughan are left with no serum and decide they must find Harrison or they will lose the money. After bribing a corrupt cop they track him down and retake the serum and kidnap his new girlfriend, Eve (Denise Wallace). Together with Stipes and his mutant lizard arm he sets out to rescue Eve and take revenge. Directed by Damon Santostefano I actually quite liked this. It isn't brilliant or any sort of masterpiece but I had a decent enough time watching it. The script by Henry Dominic and John Nystrom is well paced and fairly entertaining. It's very silly but luckily never takes itself seriously. I think it was mean to be a comedy horror but the comedy doesn't quite work which I found to be advantageous as instead of slap-stick silliness I felt it came across more like dark comedy. The twisted 'unhappy' ending was good and felt an appropriate way to round things off. It's just a shame about the middle third which tends to drag a little. The photography is OK and Santostefano has a stab at some style occasionally by lighting certain scenes in a very staged theatrical way that gives the film a slightly surreal feeling. Characters are likable enough and what on Earth is Oliver Redd and Elke Sommer doing in this?! Their fun to watch I guess, I think Santostefano must have a shoe fetish or something because he has Oliver Reed down on his knees cleaning Elke Sommers stilettos on two different occasions and throughout the film in general there are an unusually high amount of feet and shoe shots. The special effects are variable, some very impressive, others less so. The living arm effects aren't the best and they end up looking silly at times. There are a few good gore sequences, a severed arm, a ripped off face and someone has their lungs pulled out! It's a pretty fun low-budget horror film overall that I quite liked but I don't think it's for everyone. Worth a watch if you can catch it on T.V. or find a copy going cheap somewhere.
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