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Sunday, April 29, 2012

Bloody Wednesday (1988)

Every once in awhile, I find a movie that is hard to classify because I'm not all together sure HOW I feel about it.  Such was the case with this past week's "What Movie Wednesday" winner, "Bloody Wednesday"...

After being released from a mental institution, Harry finds himself unwanted and alone in an abandoned hotel with a gang of punks and a ghostly bellhop.  Soon, Harry is questioning what's real... and what he's going to do about it...

"Bloody Wednesday" is a strangely fascinating movie.  Based very loosely on the San Ysidro McDonald's massacre of 1984, this movie follows a mentally unstable man as he moves towards committing a mass shooting at a coffee shop.  You know it's coming from the fact that they show the aftermath at the beginning of the movie, making you interested in the path taken to that point.

Despite being inspired by true events, the overall storyline is a little silly.  I highly doubt that an accountant would be allowed to let his mentally unstable brother stay alone in an abandoned hotel... or that a psychiatrist would be so kind as to let a patient into their home... especially after the patient confesses to having been there before- albeit in a fantasy.  Even though the basic story is a silly, there are some really good moments in this movie.

I think- for me at least, the fascination this movie creates is from the blurring of reality and hallucination.   Hallucinatory scenes blend and even reflect reality in interesting ways.  Three in particular stand out.  In one scene, Harry captures the punks at gunpoint, and has his teddy bear act as judge.  We, the audience can hear the teddy bear speaking, while one of the punks makes it clear that they can't hear anything.  In another scene, when Harry is again talking to his teddy bear, his brother- outside the door, swears that he heard someone responding to Harry.  In yet another scene, Harry kills his wife who comes to visit.  Afterwards, his brother arrives asking if she'd arrived yet since he asked her to come over.  When he goes into the room where the wife's dead body should be, she's gone.

There's also the nature of the bellhop.  Is he really a ghost- as he seems to indicate... or just a hallucination?  You could go either way on it in fact- which actually makes the movie more fascinating to me.

The acting is rather typical of the 1980's- a little over the top.  Despite this... and possibly because of it, the movie is given an even more unreal feel.  Raymond Elmedorf as Harry brings a really off kilter feel to his character- at times child-like, and dangerous at others.  He also brings some excellent examples of "crazy eyes" to the movie as well.  Pamela Baker's character, Dr. Johnson, is about the most "normal" one... but even then, I got the feeling she had emotional issues of her own.  Ben, played by Navarre Perry, wasn't too bad... a bit of a dick- but sympathetic.  All of the actors, were able to bring some interesting things to their characters that actually helped pull me into this movie.

The camera work isn't anything special- but was still quite effective at warping our perception of the world Harry lives in.  The pacing and editing was quite good, and created a really good feel to the movie.

This is one of those movies that by most criteria, should fall within "The Ugly"... but because it kept me fascinated by the strangeness and uncertainty of everything, I'm going to have to recommended it to people for at least one viewing- though I'm inclined to possibly watch it a couple of times a year.  "Bloody Wednesday" has earned a spot in "The Good."

Special Shoutout:

I want to thank everyone that participated in my "What Movie Wednesday" feature.  I'll be doing it again March 2nd.

Big thank you to the following people who voted for "Bloody Wednesday":

  • Zoey Emily Onyx ;
  • Bobbie-Jo Kampff;
  • Leona Biron-Coulter;
  • David Mosher;
  • Marchelle Bates;
  • Ricky Russel;
  • Jason Wiggins; and
  • Pam Jones-Stewart

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