Final tally:
Perkins > Bacall > Gielgud > Connery > Cassel > Balsam > Roberts > Bisset >
(good/bad frontier)
Widmark > Hiller > Quilley > York > Bergman > Finney

Richard Widmark wakes up dead on a train, after asking detective Poirot to protect him the day before. Widmark was the mastermind of a heinous kidnapping in prologue, also a huge asshole, and it turns out all of the suspects had motives, each of them affected by his crime, and conspired to kill him together.

Languorously paced, and centered around Finney’s Mike Myers-like appearance and accent, it’s a near-disaster of a movie kept sporadically afloat by a few good scenes and performances, and a touching ending. Anthony Perkins was Widmark’s assistant – nervous, of course… Bergman is a timid religious fanatic who says “little brown babies” pretty often… Vanessa Redgrave is cute and smiley, having an affair with Sean Connery… Wendy Hiller in weird makeup and weird accent plays a princess.

Lumet made a lotta movies, more than forty and this was about the midpoint. The only other of his movies I’ve written about are his very first and his very last. Obviously a weird year for the oscars – Finney was nominated, Bergman won, and the whole list looks like New Hollywood and Old Hollywood in an ugly clash, trading awards between The Godfather II and The Towering Inferno.

Badass bounty hunter Henry Fonda (same year as 12 Angry Men) rolls into town and meets the unqualified local sheriff Anthony Perkins (three years pre-Psycho) who wants to do the right thing and arrest local bad guy Neville Brand (lead of Riot in Cell Block 11) even though it’ll probably get him killed. Meanwhile, Fonda is renting a room from a woman (Betsy Palmer, the killer in Friday the 13th) who has been exiled from town because of her half-breed son (Michel Ray, who would become an Olympic skiier and a beer billionaire). And Lee Van Cleef and his brother are going around murdering people. Fonda, an ex-lawman, says repeatedly that he’s done being a lawman, nuh-uh, never again, so we just know he’ll become acting sheriff and take care of things.

The writers lost the oscar to Designing Woman, but this was a very good Mann western to file with all the others.

Henry Fonda, Mrs. Voorhees and the young owner of Heineken:

Thanks to a well-placed mirror, we can see the bar fight and Perkins’ reaction:

Why, right after watching the classic original Dracula, would I waste time on a cheapo 80’s made-for-TV vampire thriller? Because it’s one of only two unseen titles on Stuart Gordon’s filmography, and SHOCKtober seems like a good excuse to tackle the last of them.

It’s a rare film indeed which stars Mia Sara (Ferris Bueller’s girlfriend) – looks like after Ferris Bueller it was mostly this and Timecop. She shows up… somewhere… Romania? I shouldn’t have waited three weeks before writing this. I’ve fallen behind, you see. The question comes up often, “watch movies or write about movies?” and watching them wins. So three weeks ago I watched a crappy vampire movie starring Mia Sara… in what country did it even take place? Let’s say Romania.

Ferris’s girlfriend and her enchanted necklace:

Friendly cab driver Max, “Americans and me, we kill many nazis,” drives her around as she seeks her long-lost father. She has a dramatic encounter with Anthony Perkins (in between Psychos 3 and 4) who says her father is dead, which clearly means Perkins is her father. Writer Andrew Laskos apparently didn’t think we’d figure that one out.

Perkins and Grigori:

Oh, but I said it was a vampire movie and I mentioned Romania. Yes, Perkins is a good vampire, and Mia’s love interest Grigori (Robert Reynolds of Howling 6: The Freaks) is a bad vampire. The former wants to protect her, while the latter wants to have sex with her and create a race of super half-vampire babies like Blade or Ultraviolet.

Anthony Perkins, sunburned vampire:

There’s a vampire war (a very minor one), Perkins is left in the sun, Mia rescues him, he saves her from Grigori killing them both, oh and the cab driver from before turns out to be a vampire crony. The movie apparently thought it now needed to rescue the derailed romantic subplot, so it pairs Mia up with an American ambassador (current Heroes star Jack Coleman), who has only been grudgingly nice to Mia for the entire flick.

“Shut up, I’m your new love interest!”

Wonder if this was Stuart Gordon’s sole interesting contribution or if this was in the script… the vampires don’t have fanged teeth, they have little toothy mouths in the tips of their tongues, like the girl’s breasts in Trapped Ashes.


Movie looks very made-for-TV, which it was. Gordon must’ve needed work after Dolls, and fortunately (in the long run) didn’t get himself tied up in the Puppet Master series.

When this typical 80’s couple…

Crimes 1

meets THIS typical 80’s couple…

Crimes 2

… only a big ol’ Psycho-referencing ending can ensue:

Crimes 3

Fantastically fun, over-the-top movie, with crazy crazy acting by Kathleen Turner and Anthony Perkins. Normal guy with frigid wife falls for fantasy-fulfillment prostitute (who’s a clothing designer I think by day) who is being stalked by creepy bible-quoting porn addict (Perkins, on break between Psychos 2 and 3). There’s nothing here to dislike. Ken Russell audio commentary is a treat to save for later.