Blood Wednesday

Director: Mark G. Gilhuis

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

Bloody Wednesday (1985) introduces us to an auto mechanic, Harry (Raymond Elmerdorf), who one day unexpectedly forgets how to put engines back together. His brother Ben (Navarre Perry), realizing Harry is having a meltdown, tries to take care of him. Harry's behavior becomes increasingly eratic, like when he shows up in church stark naked.

Bloody WednesdayAmateurishly written dialogue & inept acting insures a fairly lousy film, yet there's something to it that appeals, like an earnest third-grader with puckered brow & chewed tongue trying to write a novel.

Ben puts his troubled brother up in an abandoned hotel (improbably enough) & the eeriness of being the only resident of the run-down, ill-lit building could only aggravate his instability. Harry begins having hallucinations, which entwine with the real world. He attempts to deal with this combination of the real & the imaginary, remaining as calmly unemotional as he can manage, no matter what happens or seems to happen.

There are odd touches like when Ben brings Harry his teddy bear. It's a combination of sweet & creepy that the deranged auto mechanic needs his teddy, but his two-way conversations with the bear definitely push it to the side of weird. Teddy is voiced by Billy Curtis, one of the little-person actor's final performances.

He also meets the spirit of a bellhop (John Landtroop) who claims to have been with the hotel since it was built. Another ghost reenacts her suicide in front of Harry. The relentless nuttiness of the script is actually kind of cool, despite that it never stops seeming like a bad play put on by children, strange incidents having little or no accumulative meaning or forward momentum of plot.

Harry hallucinated a love affair with his pretty doctor (Pamela Baker). He even imagines a talent he does not have, the ability to play the piano for her as well as Liberace. When he behaves toward his doctor as if their romance were more than imaginary, that's only one more bit of trouble he's getting in.

Three Latino gangbangers begin to harrass Harry but he gets the drop on them & plays Russian roulette on their temples. When none of them catch a bullet, he lets them go, but now they really hate him, plus they know's he's nuts & has been getting advice from his teddy bear.

A certain Walter Burns (Herb Kronsberg) once lived in the hotel & possessed a case of jewelry before he was murdered by the house detective. His ghost still walks & Harry communicates with him, & begins seeking the gems. Burns promises to reveal the true location of the case of jewels if Harry will avenge his murder.

The house detective, Lou Cramer (Murray Cruchley), sneaks into the hotel from time to time, still looking for the long-hidden jewels. When Lou's finally dead, the ghost brings Harry the jewel case, which is full of snakes. By now the viewer has given up on which events are real & which not, it's so chaotically written & seems to have no point other than "anything can happen."

Much of the film is mere schtick without a story. But now & then something truly pathetic occurs, like when Harry stands ringing the bell trying to get the bellhop Sidney to appear, screaming into the void, "Help me!"

Toward the climax Harry arms himself to the teeth & seems increasingly likely to go on a killing rampage, while lost in his hallucinatory world of terror. He walks into a local family diner & opens fire with a machine gun, a bloody conclusion not one-tenth as effective as the best scenes of madness earlier in the film, & making the film finally closer to moronic than an amateur delight.

Yet somehow I continue to believe that it's a script that, if severely rewritten, well cast, & remade by a director of actual merit, could be rather good.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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