Desperate Hours (1990) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Desperate Hours is just a really bad movie in which neither the director nor the actors employed any subtlety or restraint at any time. It looked like the final round of the Bill Shatner Memorial overacting contest.


Kelly Lynch showed her breasts in three different scenes
  • Mickey Rourke played a genius killer, and showed his high IQ by raising his eyebrows pompously and looking down his nose, ala William F Buckley, Jr. 
  • And if you believe that, we also have Lindsay Crouse in a performance which we should have nominated for the worst performance ever from a female with a major part in a major film (I wasn't aware of it when we did our poll). She wasn't as bad as Kim Darby in True Grit, or  Lily Tomlin in Moment by Moment, but she was a contender. Playing an FBI agent, she did a perfect impersonation of what Foghorn Leghorn would sound like if he were a castrato.
  • Anthony Hopkins was supposed to be playing a kindly, suburban American dad, who screwed up his marriage by being a pussy hound. (Good casting, eh?) Although he has turned in some of the finest film performances in history, here he turned in a bellowing, Shakespearian, overacting performance that would have embarrassed Richard Burton. In fact, compared to Hopkins in this film, Burton in The Exorcist, Part 2 delivered a masterpiece of understatement.

The movie was based on a 1940's Broadway play by Joseph Hayes, which had already been turned into a previous film, a 1955 B&W starring an aging Humphrey Bogart. Rourke plays the Bogart role as Bosworth, a genius, but also a rabid killer who uses sexual control over his female lawyer to get her to smuggle him a gun into lock-up and leave him a getaway car at a remote spot. He chooses to hide out in a random suburban home, and in the process he and his psychotic gang terrorize the family.

Now the truly bizarre thing about the plot is that the (divorced) suburban couple use the strain and panic behavior of the hostage situation as a freebie marriage encounter, and she learns to trust her lying, philandering ex-husband more than a crazed sociopathic killer. Whoa! That was some breakthrough, eh? Too bad The Mickster was gunned down in the end, because he could have had a great future career as a marriage counselor.

DVD info from Amazon.

  • widescreen anamorphic 1.85;1

  • no meaningful features

The dialogue was even stranger than the acting, and in fact probably explains why the acting was so eccentric. Some of the dialogue was retained from the 1940ish original, and it made no sense in the 1990's. The female FBI agent never said anything that made any sense through the duration of the movie, but she certainly found colorfully cliched ways to say it all. Imagine a female version of Jon Lovitz doing the quaintly anachronistic Master Thespian, and you'll have the general idea.

Believe it or not, this film was directed by Michael Cimino. No wonder the guy can't get the bankroll for a decent film any more. Every time he gets another chance, he comes up with something like this.  

The Critics Vote

  • Ebert lavished 2 stars on this no star movie, but his article is excellent.

The People Vote ...

  • with their dollars: only $2.7 million domestic gross
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a C. The genre is "entertainingly bad movie". The movie is complete crap, but it is a wonderful genre parody. I laughed all the way through it, even more than I laughed at Roadhouse or Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man. Highly recommended if you like to make fun of bad movies with bizarre overacting. Otherwise, avoid it like the plague.

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