Stunts (1977)

This was Bob Shaye’s — and New Line Cinema’s — first full-length production after a decade as a pure distribution company. Director Mark Lester would tell The Pink Smoke, “They were distributing Truck Stop Women to college campuses and they already had a script, so I was hired to direct it. We hired Robert Forster because he had done Medium Cool. Don Stroud was supposed to star in it but he got into a motorcycle accident the night before shooting.”

The film starts with the death of one of Greg Wilson, one of its stuntmen, who was set up. His brother Glen (Forster) arrives on the set, along with B.J. Parswell (Fiona Lewis!), a reporter who wants to write about the danger of the stunt game. The minute Glen gets there he gets hit on by the producer’s wife (Candice Rialson, in one of her last roles; she’s also great in pretty much everything she ever did, like ChatterboxHollywood Boulevard and Moonshine County Express).

Glen joins the stunt team of the film, who all promise one another that if anyone gets hurt, they’ll always pull the plug for one another, predating Dr. Kevorkian by several years. Screw the law. We’re stuntmen!

One of the people that have to get the plug pulled on them is Chuck, played by Bruce Glover, always a welcome sight. He’s married to Joanna Cassidy, who is — again, you’re going to get this a lot with this cast — astounding in everything I’ve ever seen her in. In this one, more than aardvarking with Crispin’s dad in a waterbed in the back of a custom van, she’s punching the faces of an entire bar of rednecks.

The death keeps coming, as Paul (Ray Sharkey? This is like a B&S About Movies dream cast and it gets even better) gets trapped in a burning building. That means that our hero has to finish the film, figure out who the killer is and get some revenge.

Former pro wrestler Hard Boiled Haggerty shows up, as does Richard Lynch. And you know how I feel about Mr. Lynch and the fact that he can make any movie better just by walking on set. Suffice to say he does way more than saunter on here.

This is why we’re doing an entire week of Mark Lester’s films. He knows how to get a story told, gather the right people to help tell it and get out of the way. He’s never let me down yet.

You can watch this on Amazon Prime or YouTube.

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