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Monday, April 25, 2016

BLOODY WEDNESDAY -- DVD Review by Porfle

A steamy slab of low-budget exploitation, BLOODY WEDNESDAY (1987) knows just what kind of movie it's aiming to be and hits the target dead center.

This is director Mark G. Gilhuis' only film but he really knows how to work the material, keeping the plot moving along nicely while serving up the kind of imagery you'd see in a cheap horror comic. 

The screenplay about a man slowly going insane--which culminates in a shocking sequence inspired by the McDonald's massacre in San Ysidro, California back in 1984--is by Philip Yordan, whose long list of credits includes JOHNNY GUITAR, DETECTIVE STORY, BROKEN LANCE, THE MAN FROM LARAMIE, EL CID, KING OF KINGS, and BATTLE OF THE BULGE.

Thanks to Yordan, the film boasts dialogue that is sharply-written and keeps us interested between the more lurid and visceral moments. 

As Harry (Raymond Elmendorf) descends inexorably into madness, he has some intense conversations with his brother and caretaker Ben (Navarre Perry), his bitchy estranged wife Elaine (Teresa Mae Allen), his beautiful Swedish shrink Dr. Johnson (Pamela Baker), a street punk named Animal who has a grudge against him (Jeff O'Haco), and even his childhood teddy bear, voiced by Billy Curtis. 

The long-sufferering but short-tempered Ben does his best to keep Harry out of trouble, setting him up with a free room in a broken-down abandoned hotel that becomes the spooky setting for some of Harry's worst encounters, be they real (Animal and his gang of punks keep trying to break in and attack him) or imagined.

As for the latter, Harry thinks there are people staying in the hotel and that an aging bellman (John Landtroop) keeps popping in to dispense world-weary quips and lurid tales of former guests who have died there.  But are they ghosts, or just delusions?  (This part of the film is reminiscent of THE SHINING.)

The somewhat murky low-budget look (sometimes you may get the feeling you're watching an old VHS tape) works just fine since we get the feeling that's how life looks to Harry.  He pretty much lives inside a nightmare anyway, unable to tell reality from the fevered figments of his overheated imagination. 

The acting isn't superlative but is just as fitting for this type of film as are the unpolished production values.  Elmendorf keeps us guessing what's going on in Harry's confused, twisted mind and what he's going to do next as his life heads toward the inevitable trainwreck.

The DVD from Film Chest is in 4x3 widescreen with 2.0 sound.  No subtitles or extras, but closed captioning is available. 

After dreading it for the entire film, we finally witness the splattery, squib-packed finale of BLOODY WEDNESDAY and are treated to an orgy of senseless violence.  How one reacts, whether with shocked horror or a gorehound's enthusiastic cheers, is up to the viewer since the film doesn't make any overt comment.  It just happens.


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