walkenchronicles

Think of this as a guide through each of Christopher Walken's films, starting with his first and moving forward. Each review will provide analysis, factoids and opinion on the ninety-plus films in his career.

All-American Murder (1991)

all-american-murderGenre: American Giallo* / Black Comedy

   * What’s that? A “giallo” is a kind of Italian horror film that mixes a mystery who-dun-it with grisly murders, graphic sex, and also usually has highly stylized camerawork and cinematography. That’s a gross simplification of it, but there you go. Think Dario Argento or Mario Bava.

Walken in Short: He isn’t the only reason to watch this film, but he’s certainly the best reason. He’s got plenty of terrific lines in this, and his screen-time is spread throughout the whole film. He’s a feisty cop named Decker, and the chemistry between him and the other lead is great. They have all kinds of snarky cynical patter.

Christopher Eatin'

Christopher Eatin’

Movie in a Sentence: A smart-aleck rebel teen named Artie (Charlie Schlatter) gets sent to a seemingly virtuous Oklahoma University to turn his troubled life around, which seems possible when he meets the beautiful and impossibly pure cheerleader Tally (Josie Bissett), but she is suddenly set on fire and killed by a mysterious individual, but everyone thinks Artie did it, and then others start dying gruesome deaths too, and Artie needs to find the real killer before Decker, the hard-boiled cop (Walken) nails him for the crimes.

Director: Anson Williams (but you might know him as ‘Potsie’ from “Happy Days”)

Here’s a FUN FACT for you: Anson is the nephew of the guy who invented the Heimlich maneuver!

Writer: Barry Sandler – He also co-produced this. Despite working since the Seventies, he hasn’t done anything else that attracts my attention. And no, there is no relation to Adam.

MPAA Rating: ‘R’ – This film earns the ‘R’ with three things:

  1. a couple of nicely graphic and surprisingly kinky sex-scenes with the delicious Josie Bissett (and others) looking like she was Patricia Arquette in Lost Highway, (Raaawrr!)
  2. several gory on-camera murders, including a power-drill ‘lobotomy’ and a hand-grenade ‘vasectomy’.
  3. and a steady barrage of f-bombs and sh-missiles. Not to mention the c-bullets, and of course the k-sword. Not familiar with the k-sword? I’ll tell you when you’re older.

vlcsnap-2013-09-02-14h01m44s94Duration: one hour and 34 minutes

Actors Other Than Walken:

  • Charlie Schlatter plays ‘Artie Logan, vlcsnap-2013-09-02-13h03m07s251a kind of Ferris Bueller character trapped inside a De Palma film. It’s no surprise that he acts like Ferris Bueller though, because he actually played the part on the short-lived TV show based on the film. FUN FACT: Schlatter was going to be the voice of Fry on Futurama, but Billy West ended up with the role!
  • Josie Bissett plays popular-girl ‘Tally’ who Artie falls for. This role seems simple at first, but actually has many layers, and 21-year old Josie does a fine job displaying each intriguing layer. A year later, Josie went on to play in TV’s ‘Melrose Place’, a popular 90’s primetime soap-opera.
  • Joanna Cassidy plays ‘Erica’, the loose but vlcsnap-2013-09-02-12h45m50s119straight-talking wife of the Dean whom Artie has the pleasure of getting to know better. She’s good here, her scenes with Artie allow a bunch of exposition into the film without it being boring. She’s saucy, sassy, world-weary, and never too far away from a bottle of vodka. You might remember Joanna from a little film called BLADE RUNNER, she was one of the replicants, the stripper with the snake.

    Two cops, the one on the left is Kind

    That’s Kind on the left

  • Richard Kind has a very small role in this. He plays one of the cops that assumes that Artie is guilty right from the beginning, and thinks they should just arrest him. I mention him here because he’s awesome, and he proves it with every goofy moment he hams it up on the screen. He’s been a character actor forever, doing a lot of television work. A FUN FACT about him is that Barbra Streisand is his cousin!

vlcsnap-2013-09-02-13h05m13s229Similar Films: Track down any of Argento’s non-supernatural films, maybe ‘The Bird with the Crystal Plummage’, ‘Cat o’Nine Tails’, or ‘Deep Red’.

Available to Own: Only on DVD – no Blu-ray, and I can’t imagine that one will be made anytime soon.

Haiku in Triplet:vlcsnap-2013-09-02-12h43m59s246

Kid in a Beret,

You Piss in Peoples Face, Then

Wonder Why No Love.

Decker Knows What’s Up.

His Gut & Leather Coat Trump

Your Mouth, Silly Hat.

Solve the Mystery

vlcsnap-2013-09-02-13h42m07s88Save Your Neck, Get the Girl, and

Don’t Mess With the Deck!

I’m trying something new here. A friend of mine does Haiku Movie Reviews, and I’m going to steal that. Or maybe after this I’ll do a limerick, or a cinquain, or a sestina if I’m feeling plucky. Who knows. But let me know if you think this is a welcome addition to the Chronicles.

vlcsnap-2013-09-02-13h25m24s4Walken Content: I’ll say 85%. Even though Schlatter is the main character, Walken makes repeated and significant appearances throughout. He’s a bad-ass here, with sharp dialogue, and a steady gun-hand. And it’s funny! There is a wit and a sense of the absurd to his dialogue that raises the entertainment value well above what you might expect.

Walken Quotes: There were so many good ones, I couldn’t pick just one. So here are four gems for you. The script is full of them:

“Back then, there were good guys and bad guys. Now it’s just a toilet, you separate the turds. No more people, just bodies, nobody gives a grunt.”

“Maybe I’m sick of pulling slime-suckers off scum-f*ckers and calling it justice. Maybe I’d like to find an innocent man.”

“Any more surprises before I open the oven, find my Aunt Harriet?”

“What is this, a parade? Move these people. BACK! Whatta you doing? Go home, watch television, the good guys win.”

                                                             ~ P. J. Decker (Walken)

Should You Watch This? Surprisingly, yes. The sheer level of Walkeninity is enough to catapult this into the affirmative category. But even beyond that, this is a good little murder-mystery, with enough moments of goodness that the flaws are diminished. I know, I know: it looks bad. It does. It looks cheesy-television-murder-mystery-bad. I know this.vlcsnap-2013-09-02-14h21m27s141 I thought the same thing when I first heard about it. But it’s better than that. It is. And it’s got a little something for everyone: horror, sex, comedy, action, and cheesy/clever one-liners.

Though admittedly, stylistically, it doesn’t hold a candle to Argento’s work, it is still an interesting variation on the classic horror sub-genre. And whether it is making you grin, or making you grimace, I’d say give it a shot some night when you’re in the mood for this kind of film.

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