Sunday, November 29, 2015

THE JUNKMAN (1982)






The Junkman - Running time: 98 minutes

Directed by H.B. Halicki. Prior credits include Gone In 60 Seconds (1974).

Starring:

H.B. Halicki as "Harlan Hollis"
Christopher Stone as "Michael Fox". Best known as the husband of one Dee Wallace-Stone. Previous credits include The Howling and the television series The Bionic Woman.
Susan Shaw as "Susan Clark". Only other prior credit was a TV movie in which she played "Anchor Woman".
Lang Jeffries as "Arthur Wheeler". Prior credits include the blaxploitation film Mean Mother.
Hoyt Axton as "Hoyt Axton". Prior credits include Endangered Species. He really shouldn't need an introduction. It's Hoyt Motherfu**ing Axton, for crying out loud!




The film is part autobiography, as we get the backstory for Harlan Hollis, which is pretty much the real life backstory for H.B. Halicki. He grew up in the family junk business and eventually made his way to Hollywood with a blockbuster car chase film. We have ourselves a little film-within-a-film, as Hollis is putting the wraps on his latest project. We get a scene where several killers have been hired by an unknown client to kill Hollis before he makes his way to some James Dean festival. This brings us to an extended car chase sequence where Hollis is being chased by two killers in cars and two killers in low-flying airplanes dropping grenades. Here we witness the first of over 250 destroyed vehicles. Halicki shows his skill here as a stunt coordinator and shooting these car crash scenes in effective manner. Hollis' car crashes through a house and is bombed with a grenade, leading the world to believe that Hollis is dead.

Hollis is very much alive, however, and enlists the help of a news crew to find out who is behind the murder attempts. When he finds an unreleased publicity photo in the wreckage of an assassin's vehicle, he deduces that it is someone in his own camp. Hollis then gets help from his good friend, Hoyt Axton, who gives him a gun, $20 and his wife's Corvette. Hoyt doesn't even blink when Hollis asks him for these things, so old Hoyt must think that this is just another Friday night. This leads to another extended car chase sequence, this time being chased by cops, as he is now a murder suspect in the killing of one of the hired assassins. We get another great scene of the Corvette being driven across the hoods of several parked vehicles, with the police in attempted pursuit in the same manner, and we get a scene of Hollis enlisting the Goodyear Blimp in an escape attempt. Will Hollis live to see the premiere of his big film? Will he figure out who wants him bumped off?

The best part of this film is, of course, the car chase scenes and the damage done. A demolition derby was promised and it was delivered in spades. Unfortunately, that's all this film has going for it. Take out the demolition scenes, or even reduce them greatly, and you're left with a boring film that even cheesy bad acting cannot save. I always give points for horrible dialogue and poor acting, but I found my eyelids getting droopy when there was no action. Christopher Stone as the brother-in-law PR director was fine in his role, but that is to be expected. Dee Wallace doesn't just up and marry some loser from the local improv troupe.

Score: 2.5/5 - skip to the car crash scenes and you'll be fine. Don't linger too long for anything else, however.

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