Friday, December 18, 2015

Fleshburn - 1984

Some movies could've been a lot better with just a few changes.  Now, this movie was never going to be a classic film by any means.  This was coming out with a poster and a plot that seemed like a rip off of First Blood, and then a development that was more like a survival thriller type genre?  I guess survival is a genre, right?  If nothing else, I'd put this in the suspense category.  I dunno, I'm over the genre debate.

The real thing here with this movie is that it could've been better.  Heck, for a moment or two, I liked it as it was!  But those moments were altogether pretty brief.  The plot is okay; a Native American Vietnam veteran, Calvin, breaks out of the mental hospital where he's been ever since he killed some people, and he decides to get revenge on the people that sent him there.  Those people would be his psychiatrist Dr. Sam, his lawyer or something Shirley, this old guy Earl, and this guy Jay.  He decides to take them way out to the desert and strand them there.

Earl has a injured leg, Jay has little hope for their survival and turns to god for answers, Shirley and Sam used to be lovers I guess.  There's also a chance I got Earl and Jay confused.  They are left in the desert pretty early into the movie, and we get to watch as they struggle.  The Indian guy Calvin meanwhile stays in the area, with his gun handy to make sure they don't try to go anywhere and to make sure they die there.  That's his plan I guess.  But he allows them to survive IF they do it on their own.  He claims that is the Indian way.

The concept is sound, and we've seen this sort of thing before.  Small group of people, isolated location, mostly dialogue.  It's the sort of thing I normally like.  It's a challenge for a movie writer:  see how well you can write!  Without a lot "happening", can you keep the movie interesting?  The only problem is that it doesn't give any reason for these guys to survive, to do well, and to know how to confront their situation.

Dr. Sam, our agreed upon main character, seems to just be a desert survival expert.  Now, I know a thing or two about survival myself.  I could probably get a tiny bit of water, trap some sort of food, build fires, etc.  But this dude is like a walking resource on how to survive in the desert.  With essentially no explanation as to how.  He just kinda "knows this stuff".  He knows how to track where they are, how to get water, trap food, how to keep cool, how to survive.  And he knows it all and does it all right away.  So about ten minutes after they're stuck, they're pretty much fine.  There's very little feeling of danger.

Eventually, the situation gets to the point where they can either go for help, or stay there and die.  By utilizing the darkness of night and a small diversion, Sam and Jay sneak away from the watch of Calvin and break out to find help.

The movie is one of those where it gets labeled as bad, simply because of the absence of good.  Sure, this movie is not good by any means.  It's not something I'd ever watch multiple times, buy, have memories of.  It feels very TV-friendly, like an above average made for TV movie.  With a couple censored language things, it could easily be shown on AMC and fit right in.  It also doesn't really leave an impression.  The script I'd say is actually pretty good.  The writing is pretty well done.  The acting is solid enough.  Sonny Landham as Calvin isn't in the movie too much, but is believable in the role and his actions make sense.  I also really liked the ending.

So what do we do with movies like this?  It's so weird to me in a way.  That this is then labeled as bad, and is quickly forgotten.  The poster was cool, the concept was decent, the acting decent, it's just that it wasn't BIG and it didn't go BOOM and it was almost entirely pointless...?  I dunno.  I kind of want to make a point here as to giving it a chance, because I think it deserves one.  Yet I'm also saying it wasn't great.  So the end, take away is:  if you're into movies like this, you'll like it.  If you want action, revenge thriller, horror, drama, etc, look elsewhere.  Within whatever tiny subgenre this movie could be placed, I'd say this is actually quite good.  Some "survival/suspense/how-will-this-play-out" genre.  So I give it 2 stars.  But almost 2.5  Eh, 2.5 sounds good actually.

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