Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Blue Murder (Charlie Wiener, 1985)

Opening with what has to be the greatest image in film history... (Whoa! Not so fast, buddy. "Greatest image in film history"? I don't think so.) You don't think the sight of a woman's bum encased in pink bikini bottoms is great? (Don't get me wrong, it's great and all, but greatest in film history? Let's not get crazy.) Okay, how 'bout this: Blue Murder opens with what has to be the greatest image to ever kick off an Emmeritus Productions, Inc. movie ever. (Now that I can live with. Wait, did you say, "Emmeritus Productions, Inc."?) Yeah, so? (The same Emmeritus Productions, Inc. who brought us The Tower?) I guess. (Oh, boy. I hope your brain is ready to go on a weird and wild trip, because if Blue Murder is anything like The Tower, you're about to experience something truly unique.) Well, just to let you know, I've already watched Blue Murder. In other words, I clearly survived the ordeal. On the other hand, I do feel somewhat woozy. (Did you hurt yourself while celebrating the fact that a Canadian flag appears in the corner of the Lieutenant Rossey's office?) No, it wasn't that. I just felt odd afterward. Though, I have to say, the Canadian flag's appearance in Lieutenant Rossey's office was cause for celebration. Just for record, I wasn't celebrating in a nationalistic way (remember kids: nationalism is a form of mental illness - just say no to jingoism), I was celebrating because I'm tired of watching Canadian movies, especially ones made during the 1970s and 1980s, that try to hide the fact they were filmed in Canada.


And judging by the Canadian flag in Lieutenant Rossey's office, the yellow(!) police cars, the old timey TTC streetcars, the Metro Theatre, the hoser accents, the fact they're black people in almost every scene (unlike Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, my Toronto has black people in it), this film takes place in Toronto, Ontario, Canada circa 1985 and never once tries to hide it.


Misguided civic pride aside, I think it's time to stop beating around the bush and get down to brass tax as to why this film caused me to feel so disoriented. See what I mean? The film must still be in my system, as it just caused me to use the expressions: "stop beating around the bush" and "get down to brass tax." You see, I would never use those asinine idioms under normal circumstances. But then again, there's nothing normal about people freely subject themselves to the films produced by Emmeritus Productions, Inc.


I'm probably the worst offender there is, as I have subjected myself to count 'em two films produced by Emmeritus Productions, Inc. If there's anyone out there who been subjected to three or more films produced by Emmeritus Productions, Inc. I can only imagine the kind of mental anguish you must go through on a daily basis.


I know, you're probably thinking to yourself: What is it about these particular films that induces such a visceral reaction from those who watch them? I mean, at the end of the day, they're still just movies. That's true, they're just movies. But there's something majorly off about them. And I don't mean off in terms of acting, directing or general storytelling. There's simply something wrong with them. Seriously wrong.


Take the opening scene, for example. No, not the opening shot, which, like I said, features a woman's ass in pink bikini bottoms (imagine the opening shot of Lost of Translation, minus the twee ennui and Japanese people used as props). I'm talking about the fact that the pornographers who are shot and killed by an assailant wielding a silenced pistol at a pool party had armed guards everywhere. I know, the porn industry, especially in the '70s and '80s had strong ties to the mob, but I don't think the armed guards were necessary. (Did it ever occur to you that these so-called "pornographers" dealt drugs on the side?) It's possible. But... you know what, I don't have to explain myself. There's just something off about this film.


Anyway, on top of the pool party pornographers, anyone involved with porn/sex industry is being targeted by a faceless killer (well, he has a face, it's just that we haven't seen it yet).


The gal in the football jersey sporting the number 66... (You mean, Rebecca Pederson?) Yeah, her. Well, that ain't her football jersey. It belongs to an investigative journalist named Blake, Dan Blake (Jamie Spears), and... (Why is that chick wearing Blake's football jersey?) It's common for women to wear a piece of clothing that belongs to the man they just had sex with. Now, where was I? Ah, yes, Blake gets a strange phone call from a man claiming that he will continue to "rid this world of filth" if his demands aren't met.


It would seem that the person bumping off pornographers, pimps and prostitutes wants Blake to write a newspaper column (Blake has a popular column in the local paper) demanding that all deviant behaviour in the city cease immediately or else more people will die.


Meanwhile, Blake's pal Lieutenant Rossey (Terry Logan) is down at the crime scene of the pool party massacre trying to figure out why the killer leaves cheap clown masks on all his victims.


Later that night at The Brunswick House, a man named Cleo (Bob Segarini) picks up Linda (Denise Duncan), a leggy prostitute in a yellow dress with two massive slits down the side (dig the white stockings, girl). Taking her to a motel, Cleo and Linda are about to have sex, when, all of a sudden, a man with a gun wearing a cheap clown mask bursts into the room. Instructing Cleo to tie Linda to the bed, the man in the cheap clown mask forcefully tells him to spread her legs. This does not bode well for Linda, as people in cheap clown masks don't just tie random strangers to beds for shits and giggles. Or maybe they do, what do I know? My point is, let's say goodbye to leggy Linda and her awesome yellow, slit-heavy dress-white stockings ensemble, 'cause we're not going to see anymore of her.


Which is a shame, because I would rather watch Linda writhe on a bed for an extended period of time, than watch Blake talk to a priest on a park bench for what seemed like forever. I don't what it is with this film, but the dialogue scenes are so fucking long. Though, the scene where Blake and Rossey drink Molson Export (from stubbies) at a bar while discussing such topics as: the "porno murders" and why do so many cops have mustaches, is pretty entertaining. Even more so when Blake and Rossey show up drunk at the next crime scene (for those keeping track, there have been thirteen porno murders committed so far).


However, the film goes back to its old habits when they take to Cleo back to police headquarters (52 Divison on Dundas St. West) for questioning, as this scene goes on way longer than it should have.


(Are you sure Blake and Rossey are just pals?) What are you trying to say? (I got two words for you: bubble bath.) Okay, sure, the scene where Blake sits on the toilet (with the lid down, mind you) while Rossey takes a bubble bath was kind of odd. But it was normal for heterosexual buddies to watch each other bathe in the mid-1980s. (Was it?) What are you asking me for? I was born in the late 1990s. But, yeah, it was totally normal.


It's funny you should mention bathing, because I think Rossey is a dirty cop. Why would I think that? It's simple, really. He takes money from Carlos Vespi (Henry Malabranche), a shady porn producer. The funny thing is, this didn't affect my opinion of Rossey. In fact, it made me like him even more. Oh, and you'll notice that when Vespi throws Rossey an envelope stuffed with cash, that it's filled with Canadian money. Yeah, baby, take that Canadian hush money, you dirty yet lovable cop, you.


The deeper Blake delves into this shady world, the bigger the conspiracy gets, as he runs into all kinds nefarious characters. (Like?) Well, there's Millwood (Andy Knott), a middle-aged gay guy who enjoys siting abroad the "Lady Charisma" with his two Indonesian boy-toys; the basement-dwelling Hermie (Tony Curtis Blondell), a sort of underworld know-it-all; Tyson (Victor Redlick) and Beverly (Ralph Magnus), two henchmen who work for Vespi who rough up Blake for information, Theresa (Stephanie Sulik), the daughter of a gangster's moll who is not fazed at all by improvised explosives that have been placed inside champagne buckets...


...Angelina Scarletti (Roz Michaels), the aforementioned gangster's moll who rocks diaphanous blouses like nobody's business (Roz, believe it or not, is the film's best actor); Kenneth Markham (John Woodhill), a local entrepreneur; and Peter Baillie (Peter Snell), a red herring for hire.


It should be noted that Blake's chat with Millwood spawns the "pinch the wrong boys bottom" recurring gag and features a pretty solid oral sex joke.


With no real porn (unless you count filming inside the Metro Theatre on Bloor St. as "porn" - I'm assuming they filmed inside the threatre) and no real violence to speak of (most of the deaths are bloodless affairs), I would hold off calling Blue Murder a giallo classic along the lines of The New York Ripper and Strip Nude For Your Killer, or even the superior Toronto-shot giallo/slasher American Nightmare, but for those interested in '80s hair and fashion, Toronto in the '80s, male bonding in the '80s, 1980s-style synth music, and, well, the '80s in general, you might want to give this film a look-see.

1 comment: