Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Freeway Maniac (1989) Paul Winters

Ah late 80's slashers, the glorious bottomless pit of inanity, where the serious is often hilarious and the humorous tortuous. Where sincerity is an accomplishment in itself and actual accomplishment is strictly a fringe benefit. The broad streak of what appears to be intentional comedy in Freeway Maniac should be its downfall, but its hard to dislike such an ungainly shambles of a thing, powered with distinct idiot verve. 

Things get off to a double classic start. First a short few moments of anonymous driving footage. Who is in the car? Who knows? Where is it going? See above. I'm not sure it ever even turns up again actually. But since much of the film is about driving lets just call it atmospheric foreshadowing. Then things switch to crudely enthusiastic kitchen sex, interrupted by stalker POV shots and stabbing. No impact shots, just the blade going up and down and getting a bit of red on it. The man of the scene seems to quite clearly have been stabbed in the back, yet he falls over clutching his stomach and his back is entirely unharmed. Good times... 

Expected things follow. Stabby child has grown up to be a savage hulking lunatic named Arthur. Breaks out of an asylum through the miracle of astoundingly lax security measures, leaves a trail of corpses. Meanwhile pretty young model/actress Linda is having a bad day. Her partner is a cheat, her car breaks down and she gets menaced by gas station sleazoids. Fortunately Arthur turns up to deliver from peril. Unfortunately he also wants to deliver her from life (or something) since she apparently resembles his dear mama. He gets sent back to the funny farm, and expected things happen again. And half the movie is yet to come.... 

To be honest there really isn't too much good here. Arthur is an imposing specimen and he kills loads of people (also at one point he eats a snake and howls like a coyote, that was fun), but since there's no real gore, only a little blood and barely even any impact shots, only a handful are especially effective. Being a big guy and prone to fighting and bludgeoning rather than hacking and stabbing, there's a somewhat pleasing rough and tumble brio to Arthur's attacks, but the choreography is pretty amateurish. The film seems to vaguely posit him as anti hero tireless overcoming obstacles in his quest, but forgets to make him very funny or interesting. Only the briefest of nudity, no suspense and worst of all perhaps, the execution is mostly low level incompetence rather than joyous insanity. But it bustles along nicely. I was rarely bored, there's an ever faintly glowing core of offbeat energy. I even laughed out loud a few times. I've not gone too much into the films specific good bits because if you're like me and you just have to watch films like this, the good bits are better left as a surprise. But I definitely thought there were a few good bits. Actually, I think I can probably mention that Robby Krieger was responsible for the soundtrack and that it kinda rocks. So there's that. Anyways, you probably shouldn't bother with this one unless you feel like you have to, but if you do have to it won't have you breaking out the eye chisel or anything. Watchable crap/score. 

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