Friday, June 14, 2024

Worth Mentioning - In the Face of All That Danger

We watch several movies a week. Every Friday, we'll talk a little about some of the movies we watched that we felt were Worth Mentioning.

Catching up with a couple of '80s movies.


Fast-Walking is a film that has been around for over forty years, but I had never heard of it until earlier this year, when I saw it on a list of movies that Joe Bob Briggs hosted on his The Movie Channel show Drive-in Theater back in 1988. So I had to check it out – and while Joe Bob described it as “a great movie,” that’s not the impression I was left with... although I could tell that writer/director/producer James B. Harris, who based his script on the novel The Rap by Ernest Brawley, was aiming to make a great movie. It just fell a bit short for me.

James Woods plays the title character, and I’m still not sure why he’s called Fast-Walking. He doesn’t demonstrate any particularly fast walking in the movie; in fact, he’s often late. So maybe it’s an ironic nickname. Whatever the case, Frank "Fast-Walking" Miniver is a prison guard who not only smokes weed on the way to work, he’ll even smoke on the job if he sees an opportunity to do so. In his downtime, he daydreams of get rich quick schemes and brings migrant workers to the two prostitute brothel he and his cousin Evie (Susan Tyrrell) run out of the back of her country market.

Evie’s brother Wasco (Tim McIntire) is a favored prisoner at Fast-Walking’s place of employment, and he doesn’t mind being locked up. He actually loves being in the prison, feeling that there’s nothing you can’t do in there as long as you’ve got the guts to go for it. So Wasco is making big moves, not only plotting to take over sales of drugs and other restricted items but also to take part in the assassination of a revolutionary named Galliot (Robert Hooks) who was just transferred into the prison. Wasco has Evie’s boyfriend Sanger (M. Emmet Walsh), who is also a guard at the prison, and his own girlfriend Moke (Kay Lenz) backing up his ambitions... but Fast-Walking, who is generally a scumbag, isn’t interesting in helping Wasco with his sales or the murder of Galliot, and starts actively plotting against him.

Moke seduces Fast-Walking in an attempt to use him. He seduces her in return simply because he’s into her. There’s a whole lot of scheming, and even though none of the primary characters are good people, we’re kind of forced to side with Fast-Walking simply because Wasco is a worse person than he is and we don’t want to see him accomplish the murder of Galliot.

So Harris has us trudge through the slime with Fast-Walking for just under two hours, and in the end it’s kind of difficult to understand why. The movie starts off gross and off-putting, gets interesting, takes a swing for greatness – and whiffs it. But there are some good performances on display, with McIntire really getting to shine in scenes where his character rambles on and on about various subjects. I’m not very familiar with his work, so I was wondering why the name Tim McIntire isn’t one we hear referenced more often, since he’s so impressive in this obscure movie. As it turns out, he passed away at the age of 41 in 1986. It’s a shame.

Judging by the online reactions, Fast-Walking seems best remembered for the nude and erotic scenes involving Kay Lenz, and there are a few of those. There’s also some M. Emmet Walsh full frontal nudity, if any viewers have ever been curious to see that.


Edge of Sanity is a movie I have been aware of since it reached VHS... but for some reason, despite the fact that it stars Anthony Perkins and I became a fan of the Psycho franchise in the ‘90s, I just never got around to watching it. When I did finally catch up with it, thirty-five years after its initial release, I felt that I hadn’t been missing out on much. Although I probably liked it more, watching it as a 40-year-old in 2024, than I would have liked it if I had watched it as a tween in the ‘90s.

Directed by Gérard Kikoïne from a screenplay by J.P. Félix and Ron Raley, Edge of Sanity blends elements from Robert Louis Stevenson’s London-based 1886 novella Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde with elements inspired by the true crime case of Jack the Ripper, a mysterious serial killer that terrorized London in 1888. The film is set in Victorian era London and sees Perkins taking on the role of Henry Jekyll, a doctor who has been experimenting with a mixture of ether and cocaine that he initially believes could replace morphine as an anesthetic... but, of course, he tests it on himself and starts having higher aspirations for his creation. It gives him incredible boosts of energy, leaving him feeling exhilarated, almost euphoric. And it’s also giving him vivid dreams that are actually resurfacing memories – of events like the time he caught his father having sex with a prostitute in a barn, so his dad beat him.

Soon enough, Jekyll has taken a bad dose of his own supply and this causes a new personality to emerge: a character who calls himself Jack Hyde and goes out cruising the red-light district of London while looking like a severely ill emo person. While Jekyll’s wife Elisabeth (Glynis Barber) is sleeping at home, Hyde uses Jekyll’s body to play BDSM and voyeurism games with the local sex workers... and occasionally, what he likes to do with a prostitute is murder them.

This Jekyll and Hyde / Jack the Ripper blend plays out with plenty of strange scenes and moments where prostitutes are shown wearing outfits more reminiscent of 1980s Madonna than 1880s London, building up to an ending that really isn’t much of an ending at all. It’s kind of fun to see Perkins get to play a different variation of the thing he’s most well-known for, switching back and forth between Jekyll and Hyde personalities rather than Norman Bates and Mother personalities this time around, but I just didn’t find the movie to be very interesting or satisfying overall.

Joe Bob Briggs gave it three and half stars, though (out of four), so if you give Edge of Sanity a try, maybe you’ll have a better viewing experience than I did.

No comments:

Post a Comment