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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

VHS Vednesday: Provoked

PROVOKED (1989). Directed by Rick Pamplin. Starring Cindy Maranne, McKeiver Jones III, and Harold Wayne Jones.

Okay, I think I'm officially scraping the bottom of the barrel with this one (but undoubtedly there's always something even cheesier out there). PROVOKED is an action vehicle for Cindy Maranne, whom you may remember as "Americana" from G.L.O.W. (Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling). And if you don't remember G.L.O.W....well, you're just making me feel old.
Newlyweds Casey and Michael Kennedy (Cindy Maranne and Bob Fall), about to leave on their honeymoon, have to make a quick stop at the real estate office where they'd accidentally left their airline tickets. Unfortunately, they happen to come by at the exact time when a gang of ludicrous two-dimensional thugs try to rob the place (only to discover that there's no money there). Casey manages to escape while Michael is taken hostage, along with the few employees of the office. The cops arrive, represented by Captain Rader (McKeiver Jones III) and Officer Adkins (Memphis officially my favorite name ever); to the movie's credit, it avoids the "bumbling cop" trope, but falls victim to another cliche--the cops are dedicated and competent, but held back by that Damned Red Tape. The spineless mayor (Nick Roberts) won't risk a confrontation, so it's up to Casey to save the day. Fortunately, she makes contact with friendly arms dealer "Machine Gun Joe" (Joe Sprosty), who accompanies her on her rescue/assault mission. (Also be on the lookout for the interview with the "terrorism expert"--that's right, the movie repeatedly calls the thugs "terrorists," even though they have no political or social motivation--who spouts such ridiculously exaggerated "the criminals are the victims, and the victims are to blame" psychobabble that it would make even Bruce Tinsley say "Oh, come on!")
As for the acting...well, what can you say about a movie where the best performance comes from a porn star? (And I hasten to add that I only know that from her IMDB credits.) Ona Zee, using her "mainstream" name of Ona Simms, turns out to be amusingly sly as the ambitious but tactless TV reporter eager to exploit the situation for airtime. Not a brilliant performance by any means, but compared to the rest of the cast, it's Oscar bait.
Filmmaking tip #1: If the only location you have for filming is an abandoned warehouse, set your movie IN an abandoned warehouse. Don't try to tell us it's a real estate office.
Filmmaking tip #2: If you're going to put the word "tryst" in your dialogue, make sure the actor knows how to pronounce it. (Actually, the mayor's pronunciation, rhyming with "iced," is an accepted but rare alternative--but it still sounds jarringly weird.)
Who's Leaving This Off Their Resume?
Hardly anybody involved in this movie had any sort of film career either before or after this picture (apart from star Cindy Maranne and the aforementioned Ona Zee), but there is one other performer worth mentioning. Joel Von Ornsteiner, who plays gang member "Nick the Knife," had a few other B-movies under his belt (including the MST3K fodder ROBOT HOLOCAUST), but soon after this, he turned his back on acting and got his Ph.D. in psychology. Now known as Dr. Joel Buzz Von Ornsteiner, he can frequently be seen on TV discussing high-profile criminal cases. I wonder what the celebrated forensic psychologist would have to say about Nick the Knife?



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