Monday, January 18, 2010
Some movies stick with you when you see them as a younger person. Doesn't make them good, but there was just something that leaves an imprint on your memory. In some cases, this would be known as a "scar". In other cases, it might be known as a wistful remembrance of days past.
The film today would be considered more of a lobotomy.
Kiss Daddy Goodbye has been knocking around in my head for a good 20 years, I think. I have no real idea when I first saw it. I just remembered the kids and the bikers and the dead daddy. I couldn't remember the title and just never gave it enough brain power to research it. Still, I saw scenes in other films now and then that would spark a memory.
Recently, while researching another film, I noticed a review of this film. I thought, "Oh, it's that movie," and promptly forgot it again. Then, one night in a drunken bit of net surfing, I looked for it with a passion. I didn't recall the title, which means I must have seen it under one of its other titles like Caution, Children At Play or Vengeful Dead or Revenge Of The Zombie, which sounds like the title I saw it under. And there it was.
There is just something fun about kids with special powers and has-been stars of days past struggling to find work. Throw a zombie and some bikers into the mix and you have the basic elements for prime pizza-munching fodder. Let me introduce you to just such a film.
Kiss Daddy Goodbye is the brainchild of Ronald Abrams and Patrick Regan...and Alain Silver.......and Mary Stewart. That everybody? Yeah, I think so. If not, they can claim their cookie later because I forgot them. Moving on. Patrick Regan directed the film. To save money, he cast his two children, Nell and Patrick III, as the main moppets, Beth and Michael. Amazingly, they landed Marilyn Burns from Texas Chainsaw Massacre for a starring role, and former pop idol Fabian puts in a performance as a deputy who is trying to figure out just what the hell this movie is about.
Just what IS it all about? New deputy Blanchard who gets to work a nice coastal area where the friendly inhabitants flash bare boobs at him. He introduces himself to the local store owner, who points out both the local real estate agent who special orders booze and gripes about the bikers trashing his properties and the local recluse, Guy Nicholas, who has twins.
As the deputy lingers inside the local store to get the gossip, Mr. Nicholas takes his groceries out to the car, only to find his kids using their psychic powers to retrieve a Frisbee the boy threw across the busy highway in an effort to show his frightfully cute, though beaver-toothed, sister who has the real power. He forgets she can look cute and whine, but she does that later. Dad drives the children home and tells them to hide their powers because they will be taken away and have needles stuck in their heads. This is how the viewer will feel around 40 minutes into this film, so consider this to be a sub-textual warning.
The sheriff finally leaves with a gut full of coffee and a head full of insight about the area folk only to see the bikers the real estate agent fussed about. They look like the usual dirty, dusty, unshaven types you would expect to see on Harleys in the 60s and 70s. Never mind Harleys were mostly bought by Yuppies who wanted to feel "tough" during the stock booms in the 80s. This is a movie. You want reality, watch American Idol.
Sorry, had to choke back some vomit there.
Back to our family, we realize Mom checked out some time back. She must have read the script and decided death was a better route. Still, we get to see the twins use their talents to put away the groceries. What a wonderful way to utilize such a gift. Maybe the dad can have them weed the garden later, but for now, they have to get dressed up because the social worker who checks up on their homeschooling is coming around for her monthly review.
While the family attempts to look normal, the group of scruffy bikers spies the hot tub and decide they will help themselves to its charms. Oddly enough, the dad, who couldn't tell the difference in a motorcycle engine and a car engine, takes exception to this choice and decides he needs to pack a gun to have a chat with the friendly folk. I guess having the kids make the water boil or something like that would be out of the question. Yeah, confronting 4 people while wielding a cheap handgun is much better than hiding in the house and using psychic powers to run the dirt bags away. Well, it might work if you are Bruce Willis. Daddy doesn't fair so well. In fact, he gets knifed and shot for his trouble.
The kids watch Daddy get snuffed, but do they twitch one little synapse to help him out? Nope. Guess Daddy's brainwashing worked a little too good. I just wonder if his last thought was, "Why aren't you doing something, you little bastards?" The world may never know.
The schoolmarm doesn't ride to the rescue because her Porsche breaks down while heading up to the house to check in with the kids. This allows our rugged deputy to flirt with the helpless female. Ah, yes, what would a movie be without some sort of love story thrown in? A lot shorter and more fun, that's what. So we now have two government employees awash in testosterone and estrogen while Jodi and Buffy...no, wait, that's a different show with a creepy brother and sister. Anyway, the kids are left to their own devices with a dead father and a hot tub full of biker stink.
Do they call for help? Do they run across fields of heather looking for the neighbor's house? Nope. They sit around the body and talk about what to do next. They talk in such a languid fashion that you suspect that just outside camera range they are poking Daddy with sticks. After a while, they levitate their parental unit and float him into the house where they proceed to use some paint and a book on ancient rites to make the corpse look like someone who dropped too much acid at last year's Burning Man.
The real estate agent, who has been knocking back a few cocktails from cans, decides it is time to put a strong-arm act on our Parent Of The Year. Not quite sure what it is all about, but it provides filler, I guess. He shows up mostly skunked and proceeds to yell at the kids and tell them they had better get Daddy out to the living room pronto. The kids shrug and the little boy goes to get Daddy. The little girl tells the drunk, "I don't think Daddy's gonna be in a good mood. I think you'd better get out." Truer words have rarely been spoken. Daddy comes in and manhandles the jerk until he has a heart attack and dies. Daddy was definitely NOT in a good mood. The kids load the body into the drunk's car and mentally push it right into the lake.
At this point, the film just kind of wanders about with the kids playing hide and seek with their dead dad every time someone comes around. The dad, mostly likely directed by after-death anger or the little boy, who probably likes setting fire to ants with a magnifying glass, proceeds to do in the bikers while the kids play Atari games with their minds. Oh, and the deputy and the social worker go to bed with each other. Fabian plays cold fish to Marilyn Burns, who does a bang-up job of being sexy and aggressive.
The final insult comes when the whiny kids decide they are done with Daddy and think it is time for him to take a dirt nap; they have him dig his own grave. No respect for the dead. Not a bit.
The ending...well, they try to wrap things up, but you just have to see how things turn out on your own as I would not want to give away the suspense. Not that there is much, but the camerawork definitely improves at the end of film. That's something to look forward to. Trust me, you may need that small saving grace to help you through the film.
Okay, I've given it a hard time, but it is fun, in its own fashion. At least it keeps moving along, even if it doesn't make much sense. However, I'm sure the cuteness the kids use to bluff their way along will lose it's charm somewhere after the decision to dump the dead realtor in the drink. Just tell yourself that you are there so you can say you saw every movie Marilyn Burns ever made.
For those who care, the commentary on the version I bought was interesting, but only from the production standpoint. Endless chatter about short ends and camera angles, but some times more interesting than the movie, especially during those long breaks between the action.
I'll leave you with a last view of our little-buck-toothed vixen. Too bad I can't share with you her whiny voice.
And if you don't mind a bit of French, you can at least SEE the film in action, but the voices are nothing like the real thing. VERY NOT SAFE FOR WORK!!!!!!!