Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Stunts (1977)

Director: Mark L. Lester

Starring: Robert Forster, Fiona Lewis, Ray Sharkey, Joanna Cassidy, Bruce Glover, Richard Lynch

More Info: IMDB

Tagline: Dying is one hell of a way to make a living.

Plot: After a stunt man dies while he is involved in the making of a motion picture, his brother takes his place in order to find out what really happened.

My Rating: 5/10

Would I watch it again? It was OK enough for just the one time

Here's the second half of my stuntman double feature last night. It worked out great 'cause it's on the same DVD (it's in the 50-movie All Stars Collection that I picked up for $11). Too bad the quality's shit like the rest. These 50-movie packs are all worth getting but the quality is all over the place. Hey, what do you expect for 11 or 12 bucks?

Although not as fun as EVEL KNIEVEL (1971) this one's got some good things going for it. First of all there's the cast full of faces I KNOW you'll recognize. You've got...

Robert "Can we get Robert Blake? No? Then how about" Forster

Bruce "Crazy mutherfucker like his son, Crispin" Glover

Joanna Cassidy

Ray Sharkey

Richard Lynch

It's neat to see so many recognizable faces here. Glover doesn't come off as well but then he usually comes across really disturbing in his films. I loved him in DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER (1971). Forster is a very good actor and under-used so when I saw that he was in this I jumped on it. It's pretty much a whodunnit with lots of stunt work. I'm a big fan of movies about making movies so this is right up my alley.

Trying to solve the mystery (which plays out like a TV movie of the week) is kind of fun. They REALLY go out of their way to make you think it's Pete (Lynch), so much so that you just KNOW it's not him so you start looking at everybody. It's a cheap game to play but it helps pass the time. Several stuntmen die and we always see it coming. That I had a problem with. If we know that something could happen then why can't we be given the opportunity to think that maybe something "won't" happen? They telegraph each death minutes beforehand. I found it distracting and cheap. I would have liked to have been surprised.

It's got more hokey conventions like when Glen (Forster) and Pete are watching the footage that was just taken. The dailies are already edited to what we saw!?! They had four cameras on for that stunt. We should see four different angles. It's stupid shit like that that hurts the film.

Then there's this punk ass stupid prick...

I wanted this guy dead from the moment they showed his dumbass mug. He's just a moron that wants to be a stuntman so he annoys the fuck out of the others to let him work for them. They let him start by washing and cleaning up. The next thing you know this dipshit falls backward off of a 40 foot ladder onto a free fall bag to show everyone he can do it. That fucktard would have had the snot beat out of him for putting himself in danger AND for deflating the bag, causing a delay in shooting. Later he ruins another shot by DRIVING A CAR ON ITS' TWO SIDE WHEELS AND CRASHES!!! All they do is yell at him. How the fuck is this acceptable to these people? I would imagine that ANY stunt person would have kicked the shit out of this guy and then put him into the crashed car, doused it with gasoline, set it on fire and have a cookout. W...T...F? I had a reaaaallll problem with this guy.

There's a scene in this picture that had me welling up with emotion. One of the stuntmen, Chuck (Glover), falls to what seems his death. He's alive and in perfect hibernation. Sorry. I couldn't help myself. So he's in the hospital and everyone's told that he will never walk or even speak again. Earlier in the film they had been talking about how horrible that very thing would be. Glen takes the coin in mid-toss and nobly volunteers himself and enters Chuck's room alone knowing what he has to do. He talks to Chuck for a couple of minutes and then flips the switch that, in effect, takes him off of life support. I can't describe how well this scene was handled. No music. Just the cool, centered emotion of Glen and the doomed, motionless look on Chuck's face. I was moved. It surprised me.

I know what I'm watching next

You know there's got to be the "big stunt" that's going to kill Glen because it's the same stunt that killed his younger brother at the start of the picture. We still don't know who the killer is until the nosey reporter/love interest BJ (Fiona Lewis) discovers the truth moments before Glen performs the stunt. It's a race to the film site to stop him from being killed. Predictably, she makes after the stunt has started. Happy ending everybody. Life is good and some people die while others survive. BJ is locked in Glen's embrace when she says, "A very impressive ending" to wit he replies, "Just like in the movies." Kill me. Kill me now.

It's certainly worth watching but only once. There are so many familiar faces that this makes it a no-brainer for a lot of you who love 70s cinema. Having some cool stunts thrown in the mix doesn't hurt. But, PLEASE! They could have at LEAST come up with a better title! STUNTS? WTF? You have got to be kidding! Their alternate title is just as bad. WHO IS KILLING THE STUNTMEN? I'm literally beside myself.

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