Tag Archives: Brian May

Turkey Shoot (1982, Brian Trenchard-Smith)

Turkey Shoot is a peculiarly charmless bit of trash. It’s a Most Dangerous Game story with multiple potential victims, prisoners of the state in a dystopian future. Their hunters consist of an evil lesbian (Carmen Duncan), a vicious fop (Michael Petrovitch) with a pet monster and a bureaucrat who’s so out of shape one has to wonder how they got him to walk so much in the film (Noel Ferrier). The main villain is Michael Craig. He’s not as bad as Duncan, Petrovitch or Ferrier. He’s far better than supporting villains Roger Ward and Gus Mercurio. But he’s still not a good villain. Craig doesn’t even have the enthusiasm to appear embarrassed.

There are a couple acceptable performances among the hunted, though not the leads. Bill Young and Lynda Stoner are both fine. There’s not much competition, of course, as leads Steve Railsback and Olivia Hussey are awful. Hussey’s far worse than Railsback, but he’s not any good either.

No one appears to be having any fun with Turkey. Given Trenchard-Smith’s direction is atrocious and inept at conveying the lousy script, it’d be hard for anyone to have any fun. Composer Brian May tries occasionally, but his energetic music–even when it’s not any good–doesn’t match Trenchard-Smith’s lame direction. He shoots almost every action shot in a long shot, the actors moving from right to left across the very wide frame. It’s exceptionally boring.

Actually, you know, John R. McLean’s photography is perfectly good. Sure, Bernard Hides’s production design is laughable, but Turkey Shoot has decent locations and McLean knows how to light them.

It’s not really a disappointment in any way because Turkey Shoot is never any good. Bad acting, bad writing, budget limitations aside, Trenchard-Smith just isn’t a competent director.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by Brian Trenchard-Smith; screenplay by Jon George and Neill D. Hicks, based on a story by George Schenck, Robert Williams and David Lawrence; director of photography, John R. McLean; edited by Alan Lake; music by Brian May; production designer, Bernard Hides; produced by William Fayman and Antony I. Ginnane; released by Roadshow.

Starring Steve Railsback (Paul Anders), Olivia Hussey (Chris Walters), Michael Craig (Charles Thatcher), Carmen Duncan (Jennifer), Noel Ferrier (Secretary Mallory), Lynda Stoner (Rita Daniels), Roger Ward (Chief Guard Ritter), Michael Petrovitch (Tito), Gus Mercurio (Red), John Ley (Dodge), Bill Young (Griff) and Steve Rackman (Alph).


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Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare (1991, Rachel Talalay), the home video version

For the first third of Freddy’s Dead, I blamed Lisa Zane’s bad performance on Talalay’s truly awful direction and Michael De Luca’s lame, if enthusiastic, screenplay. During the middle third, when the film flips between exposition and poorly done dream sequences, I started to change my mind. Not in the positive; Zane never connects with the character’s place in the film. When Zane’s shooting Robert Englund’s Freddy with a crossbow, it’s supposed to be funny. But Talalay can’t direct absurdist humor, De Luca’s absurdist humor isn’t actually funny, and Zane isn’t playing for the joke. It’s a lame joke, but it’s a joke. And no one gets it. Unless the point of Freddy’s Dead is to be a complete misfire, in which case, mission accomplished.

After watching the film–for something like the fourth or fifth time, I saw it in the theater–I discovered I was watching a home video version, approximately ten minutes shorter than the original release. I assume they cut out character development. It probably would’ve been bad character development, but it might have at least made the film seemed like it was trying. Talalay can’t do anything. She’s not good at anything, at least not when it comes to presenting it to the audience. The sets are cool–C.J. Strawn’s production design, if one considers the absurdism of the script, should work a lot better than it does.

Englund’s bad, but he’s clearly aping for the camera. De Luca moronically does a character arc for Englund–the boogyman explained, over and over–and Englund visibly doesn’t know how to play some of those scenes.

Yaphet Kotto is okay for a couple of his early moments, when it seems like he might go all Parker on Freddy Kruger. By the end of the movie he’s bad, but because he’s still around and De Luca and Talalay don’t have anything for him to do.

I wonder if the original version is better or worse. It’s not like more time with any of the characters seems like a good thing. Though Shon Greenblatt at least improves throughout. He’s awful at the beginning and almost likable by the middle. Almost.

Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare’s bad. It’s often amusing in its badness–until the finale, when Zane puts on her 3D glasses (as does the viewer) and it just gets protracted. Englund and Zane don’t have any chemistry. He’s trying desperately, she’s not trying at all. A better performance by Zane in the last act would have helped a lot.

Maybe it is more appropriate for it to fail on all levels, over and over again.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by Rachel Talalay; screenplay by Michael De Luca, based on a story by Talalay and characters created by Wes Craven; director of photography, Declan Quinn; edited by Janice Hampton; music by Brian May; production designer, C.J. Straw; produced by Robert Shaye and Aron Warner; released by New Line Cinema.

Starring Lisa Zane (Maggie), Yaphet Kotto (Doc), Lezlie Deane (Tracy), Ricky Dean Logan (Carlos), Breckin Meyer (Spencer), Shon Greenblatt (John Doe) and Robert Englund (Freddy Krueger).


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Mad Max 2 (1981, George Miller)

Mad Max 2 might be the perfect example of pure action. Besides a couple extended dialogue moments–maybe the only times Mel Gibson’s protagonist gets to talk without Brian May’s music over him or just the fantastic sound effects drowning him out–it’s all action. It’s kind of incredible how far director Miller pushes the idea of not needing dialogue.

Sure, the film has some exposition, but the villains probably talk more than the good guys. Except Bruce Spence. He starts out as Gibson’s prisoner, then becomes his affable sidekick. He doesn’t hold any grudges for Gibson cuffing him to a tree in the middle of nowhere….

Miller gets away with so much in the film–there’s a bunch with these people Gibson’s helping and Miller just knows how to do a short scene then get out. The viewer’s memory of the scene makes more of an impact than the actual scene.

The film delivers amazing vehicular action. There’s time for humor–most of it coal black–there’s time for flirting, but there’s never any confusion. Max is about real cars doing amazing things. The practical effects are phenomenal.

Gibson’s great. Almost silent, his intense and still somehow muted expressions make the film work.

The supporting acting’s all good, but without standouts. Except maybe Emil Minty, who’s perfect as the Feral Kid. That character name says it all.

The film moves quickly, only slowing in the last act… when Miller briefly gets too cute.

Otherwise, Max’s wonderfully lean and mean.

3/4★★★

CREDITS

Directed by George Miller; written by Terry Hayes, Miller and Brian Hannant; director of photography, Dean Semler; edited by Michael Balson, David Stiven and Tim Wellburn; music by Brian May; produced by Byron Kennedy; released by Warner Bros.

Starring Mel Gibson (Max), Bruce Spence (The Gyro Captain), Michael Preston (Pappagallo), Max Phipps (The Toadie), Vernon Wells (Wez), Kjell Nilsson (The Humungus), Virginia Hey (Warrior Woman) and Emil Minty (The Feral Kid).


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Snapshot (1979, Simon Wincer)

Snapshot is one half middling coming of age melodrama and one half not scary thriller. The picture opens with a burnt-out building and a corpse, then goes back to explain. Director Wincer isn’t playful with the flashback–the opening is only there so the viewer is suspicious throughout the entire film.

The coming of age aspect dominates the first half of the film (once it’s in flashback). Nineteen year-old hairdresser Sigrid Thornton, who’s got an evil mother, a psychothic, vaguely perverted ex-boyfriend and a creep of a little sister, runs off from her “safe” life to become a model. Her friend (and hairdressing client) Chantal Contouri gets her the job. There’s never an explanation as to how Contouri and Thornton met, which isn’t exactly necessary unless one wants to make Thornton into a real character. And Wincer and his screenwriters aren’t interested in doing that work. Thornton’s only sympathetic because she’s got a terrible family and psychos following her.

Just when the character drama part is at least getting mildly interesting (not good, mind, just more compelling than it had been), the thriller part takes over and Snapshot goes even further into the dumps.

Wincer can’t compose scary shots, but his composition and sensibilities are actually pretty good. The music, from Brian May, is awful.

Thornton’s mediocre at best, Contouri’s a little better. Robert Bruning’s atrocious as Contouri’s husband, but Hugh Keays-Byrne’s a lot of fun as a photographer.

Snapshot‘s fairly abysmal, not scary and boring.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by Simon Wincer; written by Chris de Roche and Everett de Roche; director of photography, Vincent Monton; edited by Philip Reid; music by Brian May; production designer, Jon Dowding; produced by Antony I. Ginnane; released by Filmways Australasian.

Starring Sigrid Thornton (Angela), Chantal Contouri (Madeline), Hugh Keays-Byrne (Linsey), Denise Drysdale (Lily), Vincent Gil (Daryl), Jon Sidney (Mr. Pluckett), Jacqui Gordon (Becky), Julia Blake (Mrs. Bailey) and Robert Bruning (Elmer).


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