Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Truth or Dare? A Critical Madness (1986)

Let's keep this string of classics going.  Here's one that won a few academy awards and also that you'll find on most top 100 lists.  Or, maybe I'm mistaken.  Do they give academy awards to slasher films?  Probably not.  I'm also thinking they especially don't give academy awards to inept slasher films.  Well, I thought it had some good parts.  For example, this is one of the only movies ever made that features a drive by chainsawing.  The other one I'm thinking of is, of course, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2.  Am I missing any others?   Anyway, at the very least, this is superior cinema to the Madonna documentary of the same name.  This one even has a cool subtitle: A Critical Madness.  Other than that subtitle and the drive by chainsawing, and also some boobies, this is mostly a piece of shit, albeit a sporadically enjoyable piece of shit.  Sorry for misleading you into thinking this was a multi-award winning classic.

The picture opens with a couple of people fucking which is probably how every movie ever made should open (well, maybe not Bambi).  We got boobies right away in this thing (and unfortunately, never again).  Tim Ritter, the director, masterfully cuts between the fucking and some nerdy bespectacled guy driving his car.  Turns out, he's the husband of the wife who is fucking some other guy.  Mike Strauber (the husband) is on his way home to give his wife, Sharon Strauber, some very good news.  He got the promotion at his accounting firm (or wherever it is he works).  Eventually, he arrives and walks around the house a bit calling out for his "honey".  While in the throes of passion she can't hear him.  It's amazing that he can't hear her either.  Finally, he gets to the bedroom, opens the door, and immediately slams it shut after seeing what's going on inside while shouting "Sharon!  How could you?"  He flees, she tries to stop him, then tells him "I'm sorry, I tried to tell you, this ain't working.  Maybe you should go out and find some good friends, live your life, etc."

Then we're subjected to long scenes of Mike driving to the beach, flash backing to all the hints of his wife's infidelities that, at the time, went unnoticed.  Long interminable scenes.  Later, he picks up an impossibly voluptuous strawberry blond, brings her to a campsite, builds a fire, sets up a tent ("you don't mind if we sleep in the same tent do you?").  A rousing game of truth or dare ensues.  Starts out innocently enough ("Do you still love your wife?") and ("I dare you to lift up your blouse").  Progresses to shit like "I dare you to gouge out your eye" and "I dare you to slice open your chest".  Also, the impossibly voluptuous strawberry blond was all in his head.  So, of course, Mike ends up in a sanitarium.

Basically, the movie goes like this.  Mike goes crazy, usually flashing back to his childhood and humiliating games of truth or dare.  Also, his crazy mother appears at times.  After these visions, Mike does something bad and ends up back in the psych ward.  Mike is later released, goes crazy again.  Back to the loony bin.  Mike escapes, goes crazy.  Back to the loony bin.  Rinse, wash, repeat.  Eventually, he completely loses it and plays truth or dare with a couple fellow inmates using the knife he apparently smuggled in using his anal cavity.  One guy cuts off his hand.  Another guy eats a grenade (also smuggled in somehow).  Mike cuts off his face and, I guess, this is the point where it becomes a traditional slasher film (about an hour in) since Mike now dons a copper mask.  He drives around like Michael Myers in that Halloween picture.  He also acquires an arsenal of weapons; including a chainsaw, a machine gun, a medieval mace, nun-chucks, hunting knives, etc.

Truth or Dare was shot in, and around, West Palm Beach, Florida so we got a lot of sunny, boring atmosphere.  We got a couple of bumbling cops hot on Mike's trail.  One cop accidentally burns down the town drunk thinking it's slasher Mike.  Later, he loses his car keys and has to drive around town in the back of a cab.  The end of this picture is pretty bat shit crazy as Mike just drives around killing people that remind him of other people that apparently tormented him throughout his life.  This being Florida, several of these victims are elderly including a poor trio that he machine guns while they're waiting for the bus.  The kills are extraordinarily unconvincing which sorta adds to the brilliance.  There's even a car chase that ends with one guy catching fire and getting shot multiple times as he burns.  Lots of fire in this thing.  That's where the budget went.  I almost wonder if the fire truck in this thing was a real fire truck responding to a fire these bozos started for the picture.

So, It's pretty fucking far from a classic but if you can wade through some of the boring parts there's a lot of fun to be had here.  I laughed every time they cut to the insane asylum when Mike is returned there.  Like I mentioned earlier, the kills were horribly executed.  Sometimes (all the time?) the camera would linger on the victim and would catch them breathing or scratching their ass or some shit.  Almost as if Tim Ritter were daring them to hold their position.  They never did.  Especially that one little leaguer that got drive-by chainsawed.  I can't wait to see some of this guy's other stuff.


elmo said...

I actually like Florida ambiance. Reminds me of Grand Theft Auto.

Megmo Eskimo said...

I'm with Elmo on this one. Also makes me nostalgic for my dysfunctional family.