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.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Dead Man Walking (1988)

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When I first envisioned the DTVC, over four years and 725 posts ago, it was this kind of movie I had in mind. A Wings Hauser flick co-starring Brion James and the guy from Re-Animator-- back then, we didn't call him Jeffrey Combs, just "the guy from Re-Animator." At that time, my friends and I were on a big Wings Hauser kick, and we'd find all kinds of flicks of his on VHS and have viewing nights. This, unfortunately, was one we didn't find, and probably never would've found had the DTVC not continued on to where it is now, giving me a reason to track it down more aggressively for a review.

Dead Man Walking takes place 14 years ago, ten years after a plague has struck the planet, forcing the world's powers to take drastic measures, including blocking off entire sections of the country to keep the infected people away from the healthy ones. Among the infected, there's a rare few who have contracted a non-contagious strain that leaves its victims with only a year or two to live. These people are known as Zero Men, and they often behave erratically, like our man Wings, who plays Luger, a dude with a penchant for playing Russian Roulette with a chainsaw. After the Unitas Corporation's CEO is killed and his daughter kidnapped by another Zero Man, Decker (Brion James), the CEO's chauffeur, Jeffrey Combs, recruits Hauser to get her back-- from the infected zone. But what secret is Combs hiding?

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This is what you came for. Slightly dystopian, slightly post-apocalyptic, slightly psychotronic, but all Wings and all Brion James. I mean, the Wings factor is immense, robust, dare I say prodigious. It's all the Wings you could want. And Brion James is an equally excellent baddie. Throw in Combs as the shady CEO's chauffeur, and some pretty funny black humor, a la Robocop in the form of news casts scattered throughout the film, and you've got yourself a gem.

For people who love Wings, there are certain things he does that stand out. Like he makes this face with his mouth open that is just quintessential Wings, or has this wide-eyes smile, or sometimes stands a little too close to the people he's talking to, or will deliver his lines in a way that's just a little off from what you'd expect someone to say. All of that Wings-ness is on full display in this film. One of the cooler things about this one was to see him act opposite Jeffrey Combs for a good bit. You'd think the two make no sense together, but they actually work.

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Brion James. We've seen him play a great baddie before, but here we get him in dyed bright orange hair. It just makes him that much better a baddie, right? He has this one scene that might be too gross for some of you though, so I figured I'd shoot out a warning. A guy he escapes from prison with threatens him with a knife, so he grabs it by the blade, opening a huge gash on his hand. He then goes over to the girl they kidnapped, and uses his finger to take some of the blood-- the consistency of Smucker's raspberry preserves-- and draw a line on her face, then he does the same to his own. Then he licks some of it off his hand, and, with it still on his tongue, licks the girls lips for a good thirty seconds, before the two start making out. I just want to warn you, because it was pretty graphic.

Talking about Jeffrey Combs on a site like this, especially to the horror fans that follow us, is like a girl posting a pic of Michael Fassbender on her movie Tumblr-- like that's the level of giddiness it engenders. And I ain't mad at you either, because I love Jeffrey Combs too. He's not really as off-the-wall batshit crazy as you're used to in some of his horror roles, but he's still pretty Jeffrey Combs, which is good. Definitely a guy we need to do more of on here-- it is kind of embarrassing that I haven't done Re-Animator yet.

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Do any of you remember a show called Out of Control with Dave Coulier? Well, Diz is in this as an emcee at Cafe Death, a place where people with the plague go and watch people die and stuff. It was an idea that they didn't do as much with as they could've-- one of the few disappointments of the film-- but Diz was great, going for an almost Elvira slant, until she sets this dude on fire, then she lets out that trademark scream of hers. The problem was, they made too much out of this one death. It should've been two or three deaths, and really hit home the macabre and disturbing elements of it.

But that's one minor issue with a movie that otherwise works. It's only on used VHS, but you can get it for a good price, so it's worth it. Great Wings, great Brion, great Combs, and a pretty solid low-budget 80s sci-fi flick to boot. It was movies like this that got me to start the DTVC, and it's movies like this that keep me going.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0092841/

14 comments:

  1. Wings, James, Combs, AND Diz?

    I'm in...

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  2. Great write-up!

    What an amazing cast! Can't go wrong with Wings, Combs and James!

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  3. Oh yeah, I thought about you as I was watching this, because I know you appreciate some good Wings. You won't go wrong putting this on your radar.

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  4. This looks pretty glorious. Those screenshots look SO cheap! Love me some Combs, though does it top his crazy hippie hacker from Fortress?

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  5. It does in the sense that he's in the movie more and has more to do. Plus,, I enjoyed this one more than Fortress, which helps.

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  6. Will definitely put this on the must-see list!

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  7. Hey, you only have 600 more posts than me! But seriously, thanks for turning me on to this one. It sounds like perfection. Does anyone know for sure if Brion is pronounced "Bryan" or "Bree-on"? And while I love him, I still call Jeffrey Combs "that dude from Re-Animator."

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  8. It's like the traditional "Bryan", but my friends and I always called it "Bry-ON". And my friends still refer to Combs as "The Guy from Re-Animator" too, so that's what I usually have to call him after they say "who's that?"

    And believe me, I never thought I'd be over 700 reviews either, or that I'd be doing this four years later. We'll see if I make it to 1000...

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  9. Holy! Diz! Wow!

    Thanks for the flashback to "Out of Control" a memory from my childhood that had been long buried and with that image and your words came roaring back to life and clobbered me.

    Wow...

    Oh and the movie sounds great too. :)

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  10. Movie's great, and yeah, when I saw Diz I was stoked too. "Cut... it... out!"

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