Sunday, April 25, 2010

Robert Englund, Rape Counselor (SLASHED DREAMS, 1975)

Remember the trick that Tarantino used in DEATH PROOF where the original title of the movie is sloppily covered by a new one? Well, SLASHED DREAMS uses the same trick but in this case, it’s a sincere attempt to cash in on Robert Englund’s success 9 years later in A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET. The distributors must have thought to themselves, “Hey… we have this movie sitting around and even though it has NOTHING to do with slashing or dreams, it does have Robert Englund. We can make some cash on this motherfucker.”

So they changed the title from SUNBURST (which is a weird fucking title to begin with) to SLASHED DREAMS and so cue the sappy 70s music complete with annoying female vocals.

And what we get is a movie that is pretty much the opposite of A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET.

On the bright side, Peter Hooten is in it. Who’s Peter Hooten? He not only starred in the original THE INGLORIOUS BASTARDS but also the DR. STRANGE tv movie from 1978. He’s like a cross between Billy Zane and Thomas Ian Griffith (who played Terry Silver in the KARATE KID PART III) but with curly hair.

Having been made in that great year that is 1975, SLASHED DREAMS relies on heavy themes like “purpose” and “roots” and “nature” and the “meaning of life” …all that pseudo hippie crap. Robert Englund plays a guy who dropped out of college to live in a shack in the woods. For most of the movie we only hear ABOUT him. Having a look at the college he dropped out of (the University of Lame?), that was a wise decision. What an embarrassing time capsule of college life in the mid 70s.

I’ve watched this three times. Why? Well, the first time I watched it, it was out of pure curiosity. The second time was so I could pretend that it was really Billy Zane in the movie in Peter Hooten’s role. The third time I pretended that it was really Thomas Ian Griffith in the role and that he taught Cobra Kai karate to Robert Englund so he can fight bears.

Back to the “movie”… look out for the stoned hippie at the Shell Gas Station eighteen minutes into the film. It may seem like a unnecessary shot but in fact, the director is giving us something to think about. What that is, I’m not sure but I know it’s there. I can just FEEL it.

So what the hell is the movie about? Peter Hooten takes his girl into the woods to look for their friend played by Robert Englund so they could see how he’s doing because, like I said, he dropped out of college to, you know, “find himself” or some shit.

That’s it. That’s the fucking premise. On the way they meet a creepy general store own played by the famous Rudy Vallee who you might remember from the brilliant 1947 epic THE SINS OF HAROLD DIDDLEBOCK (Criterion Edition due out in 2011). Valle also not only runs the general store but he sings musical numbers to invisible guests in the back room. Oh, and he also acts like a really fucking creepy candyman who insists Peter Hooten and his girl have some licorice nips. “Let them melt gently in your mouth,” he says right before giving them a knife.

Oh, and how can I forget. There’s a bear. A real bear. I would’ve preferred a guy in a bear suit but hey, they tried. Nothing really happens so it’s sort of anticlimactic but I guess if you can rent a bear for a few hours, you might as well put it in.

Then there’s lots of frolicking, “nature is great” shit while terrible music plays on the soundtrack. It’s mind-numbing but for some reason, it makes me feel all sweet and safe inside as if my organs turned into cotton candy and licorice nips.

Not too long after all that frolicking come the obligatory backwoods hicks. Really, the hicks, this cinematic threat, are just two guys who look like they just stepped out of any 60s-70s biker flick.

Then there’s the rape. Yeah, those scumbags rape the chick. I know what you’re thinking: Where the fuck is Robert Englund? Shouldn’t he jump in to save the day with his knife-fingers? Nah. He’s not there yet.

We have to wait for nearly and hour and then finally: ROBERT ENGLUND!

And so, in his really shitty nature shack, Englund counsels the girl. The botton line to his counseling boiling down to, “You gotta let go of the itch, forget about the scratchin’”

He tries to get a girl to accept her rape as fate, learn from it, blah blah blah. At the time, I’m sure it made a whole lot of sense but in hindsight, considering everything Robert Englund has done and the trauma that getting raped would bring, it’s a true WTF moment.

In case you’re wondering, yes, there is a half-assed revenge scene. Peter Hooten goes after the hicks who raped his girl but with pretty pathetic results. It boils down to a mud-covered tie and the hicks get to walk away. Big deal, right?

A big mistake of the “filmmakers’ is not exploiting the backwoods concept. Where are the cannibals? Where are the psycho slashers? Shit, they dropped the ball on this one.

Anyway, I started writing this blog entry thinking I might just defend this as a good movie to watch while having some beers but now I’m actually getting angry at it. This is pure lazy film-making even for 1975. I would have liked if they kept the title as SUNBURST and then have the movie end in some sort of apocalyptic explosion, the sun burning the earth, leaving only Robert Englund and his shack to survive. And maybe the bear. Yeah, definitely the bear.

1 comment:

  1. Shit review, no wonder your blog is dead.