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, January 4, 2012

Deceit (1992)

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The imdb date on this Albert Pyun flick is a little misleading. 1992 was when it was released in Portugal (according to them), but the film was actually shot in 1989. I've read a few different accounts of the shooting online, but the common themes of all seem to be this: it was done over three days, in 1989, after the Cyborg shoot. Let's see how it turned out.

Deceit follows Pyun mainstay Norbert Weisser as he kills himself by drinking bleach in the opening scene, only to have some mysterious force enter his body and reanimate him. After the opening credits, we're rejoined by a shaggier Weisser asking a young couple for a ride. Already in the car with the young couple is Eve, who, after Weisser reveals that's he's an "alien sex fiend" and kills the couple, Wesieer forces into an abandoned warehouse where he plans to meet his alien partner in crime, fellow Pyun mainstay Scott Paulin. It's then that the two aliens compete for Eve's affections, potentially to the detriment of their mission on Earth.

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I really enjoyed the first hour of this, and while it did grind to a halt a bit in that last half-hour, it didn't totally derail it for me. It's definitely not one for everyone, but it has some classic Pyun elements that fans of his will recognize: Paulin's character is named Brick Bardo; there's some fun pseudo-existentialist philosophy, especially from a radio DJ; and we have a strong female lead, in this case Eve, who doesn't start off strong, and has many weak moments throughout, but ultimately comes through. The problem in the final third came because what had started out as some great, fast moving, entertaining dialog was winding itself out of control, plus the plot felt like it was devolving into bad slapstick, which caused me to lose interest. Overall though, this is a fun, small-scale, off-beat 80s flick, and I enjoyed it.

Of the 30-plus Pyun films I've looked at here on the DTVC, this is the hardest one to put in proper terms or describe accurately so you can get a beat on whether or not you'd like to track it down. I'm not so sure that's a bad thing though. It's good to have movies out there that aren't easily defined, that someone who hears the name Albert Pyun and thinks Cyborg and Nemesis might watch and think "what is this?" But I think if you are a fan, and you've seen some of his other stuff from this period, in particular Down Twisted, Radioactive Dreams, and Vicious Lips, and also something like Brain Smasher that he made after, a lot of this will be recognizable and make more sense.

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I'm a sucker for shots like this one of the clock here. That's why I'm such a huge Ozu fan, because his movies a chock full of things like that. The lighting on the clock gives it a Metropolis look too, or really anything from the silent film era. Another shot I was a big fan of was of the car radio dial that was shown as the DJ gave his pseudo-existentialist monologues. Often shots like these come off as indulgent, but in the context of the rest of what Pyun did here, they worked.

Usually this spot is reserved in Pyun flick posts for the Pyun mainstays, but because this film only had two, Paulin and Weisser, and we've already mentioned them, I figured I'd bring up the girl who played Eve, Samantha Phillips. She's gone on to have quite a career in everything from radio, to TV, to a Penthouse spread, to lots of DTV flicks. Maybe we'll see her again on here sometime. I don't want to discuss the specifics of her performance in Deceit too much because the evolution of her character is the crux of the film, so I'll just say I enjoyed it, and leave it at that.

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Finally, I'm not sure if you can see that image above, but if not, click on it and go to the image page for the full size one. I also just realized that, because it was the second of two pages of credits, and you don't have the one before it, it's like it's apropos of nothing. It's the "thank you" section, and at the bottom, there's "Jean Claude Van Damme" with the caption "Without whom this film would not have been possible." I'm not going to speculate on what that means, just figured I'd include it.

You can actually get this new from Amazon on VHS, because they have their own Amazon.com exclusive version. I think that's pretty cool. If you've already gone through some of the others in Pyun's filmography that I mentioned, and you enjoyed them, I'd give this a try. I think you'll like it.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0097176/

9 comments:

  1. Im not sure if I am interested in this, as I have seen quite a bit abysmal stuff of him, or at least stuff that wasn`t for me. He is such a chaotic producer/director..I am not sure, I read some interviews of him, and that might be the one he shot during or soon after the Cyborg shoot? Maybe shortly after he was released from duties with Cyborg..whatever...nice read...but unless I decide to start a complete collection of Pyun, i guess I will avoid this one.

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  2. Looks interesting. And I would potentially love to see Albert discuss just what JCVD brought to this film.

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  3. Interesting. I'd be willing to bet van Damme helped out with the financing or something.

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  4. Deceit was an expression of outrage for being forced to shoot reshoots I hated for Cyborg. I choose the location for the reshoots with one I needed for deceit. IAs I shot the reshoots with Van Damme, I had the crew pre-cable and pre-light the interior set and we made sure all the equipment was put on weekly rentals so we could use cameras, lights and location for no cost. We shoot in three consecutive nights and it cost less than $25,000 all in (inclusive of post). The film would not exist if Van Damme hadn't insisted on the reshoots! Hence my thanks to him.

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  5. Great inside information there Albert, thanks for sharing!

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  6. Hey Albert, thanks for stopping by again. I had read something similar on the Internet, but I wasn't sure, so I kept it vague; but I didn't consider my keeping it vague would give people the erroneous idea that Van Damme actually had a real helping hand in your making this film, so it was a lesson for me in how to couch things properly.

    What I didn't see on the Internet were the specifics on how you actually shot this in three days, so I appreciate your telling us that. For a protest film, as I mentioned above, I'd say it turned out pretty good. Thanks again for stopping by, and good luck with Tales, I can't wait to check it out!

    Also, the Mean Guns DC was just released on DVD. If anyone's interested you can e-mail Cynthia Curnan at curnanpictures[at]gmail.com for more info.

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  7. I'm sorry, I forgot to respond to your comment too helford667. I appreciate your compliment on the post, and if you like, you can click on the Albert Pyun tag under the DTVC Hall of Famers list (he's at the top, due to his first name starting with an "A") and check out my reviews of some of his other films and see if there are some that might be more your speed.

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  8. I don't have a ton to say on this one, but this seems like a movie for which the behind the scenes story may be more interesting than the product. Not to belittle the movie, of course, especially not having seen it, but the protest over the Cyborg reshoots lends it a much more interesting element to me than it otherwise might have.

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  9. Definitely, and the fact that it turned out pretty solid makes it all the better-- but you're right, the backstory is great.

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