The Direct to Video Connoisseur

I'm a huge fan of action, horror, sci-fi, and comedy, especially of the Direct to Video variety. In this blog I review some of my favorites and not so favorites, and encourage people to comment and add to the discussion. If you click on an image, it will take you to that post's image page, which includes many more pics from the film and other goodies I couldn't fit in the actual review. For announcements and updates, don't forget to Follow us on Twitter and Like our Facebook page. If you're the director, producer, distributor, etc. of a low-budget feature length film and you'd like to send me a copy to review, you can contact me at dtvconnoisseur[at]yahoo.com. I'd love to check out what you got.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Marked for Murder (1989)

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I noticed it had been a bit since we'd covered a Wings Hauser film here, so I caught wind of this and decided to make it happen. Why not, right, you can never have enough Wings Hauser in your life, that's what I always say.

Marked for Murder has DTVC Hall of Famer Wings Hauser as Emerson (Lake and Palmer), a TV exec who sends an assistant and an intern to some guy's place to get a big box VHS tape for their big box VHS movie club night. When they get there, a detective gives them a hard time, and they have to talk their way out of the place-- but they have the tapes. Then they get chased by that cop, and also find out that the guy whose place it is has been killed-- and the murder was pinned on them. Now they need to clear their names and get the tape to Hauser in time for their big box VHS movie night-- they're screening R.O.T.O.R.!

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Whoa! Hold the phone, son! I'm looking at Wings Hauser on the cover, but where is he in my movie? Did I sign on for a mush faced wannabe Arch Hall Jr. and Martin Sheen's lesser known daughter Renee? I think I signed on for Wings Hauser, didn't I? But then, after about 30 minutes off-screen, there he is again, at a strip club, trying to remember the name of the Singapore Sling so he can order one from the waitress. It might be one of Wings Hauser's best scenes ever. Now I'm faced with a dilemma: kill this for being a bait-and-switch, or love it for the great Wings that it does have. I don't know...

The thing with Wings Hauser is, there's a certain je ne sais quois, and really, if you get it, you know it's something I can't explain to those who don't. It's the seeing him in a members only jacket and tight tennis shorts assisting a woman at his house with her suntanning. And it's us, as the viewer, getting to say "why yes, this is a members only jacket I'm wearing." It's the scene at the strip club, where he's trying to remember the name of the Singapore Sling. Only Wings can make that kind of thing awesome, in a way that only Wings can. The issue is: does some of the best Wings you've ever seen make up for the fact that there isn't as much of him on-screen due to a bait-and-switch? Again, I don't know...

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One of the biggest misconceptions about this blog is that the word "connoisseur" in the name is meant to denote that I think I have a higher knowledge or more discerning taste when it comes to movies over other people. The name, "Direct to Video Connoisseur", is actually entirely tongue-in-cheek, meant to conjure up images of someone in a smoking jacket with a pipe, Alistair Cooke style, watching Dolph Lundgren movies. That said, I have to admit that seeing Ross Hagen and Wings Hauser share the same screen, even for only a short period at the end, made me feel like something of a literal connoisseur. It was like sitting on a music sharing site, and waiting weeks for a rare live version of a song from one of my favorite bands, featuring a guest vocal from another one of my favorite singers, and when Ross Hagen appears on screen for the first time, near the end of the film, and he and Wings share their first line, I had that same feeling I get when I play that song I'd waited to download for so long. I just needed my smoking jacket and my pipe. This extends my dilemma, because it has this gem at the end, but before that, I'm dealing with a Wings Hauser bait-and-switch. I just don't know...

Martin Sheen has a cameo in this. It's a cameo that is given away in the opening credits, but a cameo just the same. His daughter, Renee, is the assistant that Hauser sends out with the mush faced Arch Hall Jr. wannabe. The cameo is sweet, because he's just a man in the park, but after a couple close-ups, all he does is stand there like a bewildered old man, watching the action-- or lack thereof-- happening in front of him. It was pretty fantastic. It happens at the 50 minute mark, which is right after Wings comes back into the picture. The problem is, there's still that crap before it because this was a Wings Hauser bait-and-switch. Ugh, I don't know...

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It was this mush faced Arch Hall Jr. wannabe who replaced Wings Hauser for most of the film. That's right. You may recognize him from Vice Academy, or another Wings films I've done, Mind, Body, and Soul, where he had a sex scene with Ginger Lynn Allen. He currently works in the biz editing popular reality shows, including a couple of my favorites, The Jersey Shore, and Tool Academy.

So, I'm going to lay it all out here for you: first off, this is only available in the States on VHS, and it might cost you if you aren't lucky. Second, we're talking Wings Hauser bait-and-switch for a good chunk of the middle of the film, but when he comes back in, it's some of the best Wings ever. Third, Ross Hagen and Wings Hauser together on one screen, even if it's only for a brief period of time. Fourth and finally, Martin Sheen cameo as a befuddled old man in the park. As far as the rest of the nuts and bolts, bad dialog, not always the best acting, and not a lot of actual action. I guess, all in all, the film worked for me, but that's a tough call, and if you're not a huge Wings fan, you might want to stay off this one.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0097837/

5 comments:

  1. I haven't seen enough Wings movies, but it's a shame this one has him the focus of the cover but not the focus of the film. Those scenes you mentioned do sound good though. Might check it out sometime. What's the best Wings movie for a Wingvirgin?

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  2. For me, it's The Killer's Edge also known as Blood Money. It also stars Robert Z'Dar, which will help ease you into the Wings aspect.

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  3. Wow and it's a PM movie. I'm sold.

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  4. Enjoyed your review! That is cool that VHS tapes are part of the plot, but a Wings Hauser bait and switch? that is unfortunate.

    If only it was like L.A. Bounty or the aforementioned Killer's Edge.

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  5. It's a dilemma bait-and-switch, though, because it is some of Wings's best work-- when he's on-screen. The VHS angle was pretty funny. There was some video tape of a drug deal or something that everyone wanted to get their hands on, but all the tapes were in the big box style case. Usually the tape is completely out of any kind of packaging so we can recognize that it's a tape, but not here.

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