Sunday, July 29, 2007

Hausy & Hopky

In the 1980s, there were a whole lot of two things: terrible horror films and remakes. I tell you I’ve discovered something that combines both of these things, Wings Hauser, zombies and so much more. What I’m talking about is two films called Mutant (1984) and Nightmare At Noon (1987), one a cheesy horror film the latter a fucking remake of the former, with the same two leads. When Mutant came out and no one saw it, someone said: “You know what this is missing? That one guy from Bladerunner And Helicopters! And I hear George Kennedy’s doing pictures for a song, let’s get him on the phone. He can play a sheriff, like he likes to.” And by god if he didn’t get those things. Trouble was he also got one of the least creative B-picture aces Greece had to offer, Nico Mastorakis. At least actor-come-director John “Bud” Cardos had a little more flair than this guy when he made Mutant, and when I say a little, I mean a little. The pairing of 'stars' Wings Hauser & Bo Hopkins, a collaboration I've dubbed the Hausy & Hopky connection, provided us with hollywood's first pairing of two middle aged stoners with no chemistry whatsoever; a sort of coke-head's answer to Cheech and Chong.

by John "Bud" Cardos

Wings and his brother are a couple of cardigan wearing city boys who’re vacationing in the south for some reason. I say this because they both seem to hate every second of their time there, especially when some blowhards in a truck run their mustang off the road, forcing them to spend the night. Anyway, the younger of the two, Mike (Lee Montgomery looking as much like an 80s teen as one can look) discovers a body, but when they alert the sheriff (Bo Hopkins), it has been replaced with a very much alive street person. Needless to say, they want to leave as soon as possible, but as their car needs whatever mechanic’s tools lifts ones car from a creek, they’ll have to spend the night in a motel, where Mike is abducted in the middle of the night. From here on in, it’s up to Wings, the sheriff and a bartender/schoolteacher to see what’s causing people to disappear, reappear and then turn blue and murder people. Not a terribly original plot, and the science is a bit shoddy (chemicals + water supply = zombies?), but the zombies attacking en masse has some uniqueness to it. The zombies have some personality. Their look and movements put them halfway between Dawn Of The Dead and Demons which means they are a reasonably spooky threat. On the whole it’s just no good because you could care less what happens to the people. Wings Hauser plays a slack-jawed asshole, so it’s hard to route for him even if he is squaring off against even more contemptible southern stereotypes or a lot of little kid zombies.

Nightmare At Noon
by Nico Mastorakis

I’m completely baffled as to why anyone would remake Mutant, but they did it, with both Wings and Bo practically reprising their original roles. Wings and his aggravating spouse are a couple of cardigan wearing city folks vacationing in a southern town for some reason. I say this because they both seem to hate every second of their time there, especially when they stop at a restaurant and see one of the regulars drive a steak knife through a waitress’ hand. Meanwhile out in a van on the outskirts of town, an albino (Brion James from Bladerunner) with a lot of men in jumpsuits carrying guns contaminate the water supply with some green stuff. When Wings’ wife drinks the water and becomes a crazy, it’s up to Wings, the sheriff (George Kennedy), a drifter (Bo Hopkins) and the sheriff’s deput daughter to see what’s causing people to go crazy and shoot everyone. The plot and effects are stolen and the direction is so listless I felt like I was watching an episode of Walker, Texas Ranger. Nico Mastorakis is one of the laziest directors I’ve ever encountered, and I’ve had my share. It’s only the truest ineptness that allows gunfights, car and helicopter chases, zombie knife fights and constant explosions (CONSTANT!) seem so completely boring that one forgets they’re watching an action film. Also, there are some bits of weirdness that damn this film from the beginning, the biggest piece being a sheriff not noticing Wings Hauser carrying a shotgun around, everywhere he goes. He’s just copping a “fuck-you, small town yokels” attitude and toting the biggest gun for miles around and NO ONE THINKS TO ASK HIM NOT TO!!! 

Not only that, he acts like he’s acting reasonable. The strange turn the movie takes at the end makes this feel like Mastorakis wanted this to be a cross between a zombie film and a western, but because the pacing, tone, acting, production design, script, direction are all so lame that its sub-primetime-television in it’s execution. Lord knows why Bo and Wings re-teamed for this winner, but clearly no one has learned their lesson.

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