Friday, September 02, 2016

095. Indian Paint and 096. The Cold

Jump to The Cold (1984)

095. Indian Paint (1965)
Director: Norman Foster
Writer: Norman Foster from the novel by Glenn Balach
From: Cult Cinema

A tale of a young boy and his horse. Yeah, that's it.

Nishko is eagerly awaiting the birth of his horse, a painted colt that he's seen in his dreams. Shortly after the horse's birth, though, the nearby Snake tribe raids his village, steals all the horses, and kidnaps three women. The most important thing to this 12-year-old, obviously, is his horse, not the fate of the tribe or of his kin.

And that's the movie in a nutshell. There isn't much plot. Everything is just a variation on him wanting his horse, losing his horse, getting the horse back again. Even the prospect of sacrificing the horse to save his mother's life comes up, but she recovers just as he's about to cut the horse's throat. While that sounds dramatic, it carries no weight—nothing carries weight. Events happen, the scene ends, and none of it ever matters again.

Since there's no evolution of scenes, there's no evolution of characters or their relationships. Nishko never grows beyond being a whiny kid stamping his feet and wanting his horse. It's telling that the first major plot point is his village being raided. He protects his mother, saves the sacred object (which is just called “the sacred object”), and then goes after the raiders to save his horse—not the women they kidnapped.

At the end of the movie, his horse has run off to join a wild herd, he catches it, feels guilty, and sets it free. Then he's knocked off a cliff by a buffalo, which is hilarious. He has a dream of random shots from earlier in the movie, wakes up to find a pack of wolves menacing him, and then the horse rushes in from miles away to save his life.

This is a movie about native Americans set before the arrival of the Europeans, but it doesn't actually do anything with that. Rather than the standard western trope of cowboys versus evil savages, this floats the idea of native Americans. . . versus evil savages. Since that's not about a boy and his horse, though, that plot's dropped. Also, even though it opens with a voice-over about how this is a tale from before the white man came, there's nothing particular about the tribe they depict—no specific identity, traditions, or religious practices. They hunt buffalo. That's it.

There's a touch of camp enjoyment to be found in seeing this as a tribe of John Boehners, but that's, at best, a momentary joy. Several of the roles are played by actual native Americans and First Nations people, but there are enough white people in redface with sweat lines appearing in the makeup to remind you that it's 1965. To focus on the political incorrectness of it, though, is to miss the point that there isn't any movie here to get mad at. This is ninety minutes of nothing and definitely best given a pass.

096. The Cold aka The Game (1984)
Director: Bill Rebane
Writers: William Arthur and Larry Dreyfus
From: Chilling

Nine people compete to be the last one standing in challenge to face ever-greater scares for a $1,000,000 prize.

A rhyming narrator tells us about three bored millionaires who have come up with a new way of amusing themselves. Once a year, they gather several people at their island resort and play a game. The millionaires try to scare the players off the island and the last one remaining gets $1,000,000. This year's contestants include a band with 4 members, Joe—an ex-con and Vietnam vet, Kathy—a law student, Jon—who keeps creeping around the hotel, and two women who are regularly topless or wearing see-through underwear.

People start disappearing relatively quickly, which raises immediate questions about the nature of the game. If the game is to scare people off the island, then they have to be convinced that the threat is real, except they already know it's a game. To address this issue, people start getting captured by the millionaires which then implies that the game is to not let your guard down.

There's not much point going through the details. Eventually we're left with Joe, Kathy, and Jon. Joe is angry because the woman he's started hooking up with, Shelly, has been shot and killed. The millionaires themselves seem surprised by it. They initially broke into Shelly's room, tied her up, and forced her to play Russian Roulette 4 times in a row. It's actually a bit of a mean-spirited scene for this flick. They don't shoot her, but as they're walking down the hall, they hear a gun shot. When they return to their lair and examine the camera feed from the room, they say she looks dead.

Jon reveals that he's a cop on the trail of a mental patient who ended up as a janitor at the resort the year before. He and Joe get into a fight, Joe steals Jon's gun, breaks into the millionaires' lair, and shoots one of them. Jon then chases Joe with a shotgun, they end up fighting by another house on the island, and the mental patient arrives only to reveal that all of it was a ploy and part of the game.

Jon, Joe, and Kathy have everything explained to them by the millionaires who promise each of them $1,000,000. The contestants are driven to a nearby hotel where they're told the rest of the party is waiting, only, when they get there, it's just the first person to disappear. On the island, the millionaires start panicking as they resort starts filling with the chilling mist they'd been using throughout the game. They run through all the movie's sets, run into a sauna, see a demon, and die. We close with the rhyming narrator who opened the film basically saying none of it makes any sense as we watch the frozen millionaires open their eyes and start smiling.

The movie is really stupid. It's an odd mash-up of House on Haunted Hill and The Most Dangerous Game without committing to its ideas the way those movies do. There's gratuitous nudity, bad audio, and sub-porno-level acting. Suffice it to say, I loved it. The whole thing is just kind of goofy and moves at a good enough pace to keep your interest. This is from Bill Rebane who also did The Giant Spider Invasion (which gets name-dropped in this film), probably best remembered for being the source of MST3k's “Packers!” gag. This is an enjoyably bad movie and an interesting little slice of 80's. I don't think it's a forgotten part of the bad movie cannon, but I'd say it's definitely worth a look.

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