Uncle Howie, what happened? You gave us Mortuary . . . but you also gave us the sex romp They’re Playing with Fire. And everything that Texas Detour is, this ain’t (meaning “good”). We lost Howard Avedis in 2017, but this was his last movie, released in 1987. Maybe it’s because of the eleven films you wrote and directed, you didn’t produce it, Uncle Howie? Wait a sec . . . is this a Crown International boondoggle? They’re always f-in up movies with more boobs and dumb T&A than needed. Nope. But it’s produced by Hickmar, Howie’s production company? Ugh. What gives, IMDb, screwin’ our review with the bad film Intel.
Oh, Mr. Avedis. This is all on you, after all. But why?
Sorry, Howie. I love yahs and all, but this movie is the pits — and the dicks — rife with bad penile jokes (“What do you feed that monster?” and the classic line of “I need to know if I need to bring in a stunt cock!”) and a bunch of B-Movie actors non-thespin’ with the zeal of Z-actor hamness and hold the mayo.
This was a flat production (not a boob or chest joke, I swear), even for HBO. If not for Barbara “Re-Animator” Crampton, this would have been a pass. I mean, look at the cover cheese, will ya? And the white slavery angle is obviously from a mile away. And we’ve been there and done that to death with that plotline on way too many ’70s and ’80s TV series, already. Yeah, I know David “An American Werewolf in London” Naughton is our intrepid (white-as-white-bread-can-be-and-not-Don Johnson) cop, but come on . . . it’s David friggin’ Naugthon (who previously worked for Avedis alongside Karen Black in Separate Ways). So, if no Crampton, no chicken chokin’ and holdin’ the mayo for ol’ R.D.
Anyway, Crampton and her little sister head to the zoo for little sis’s 16th birthday because, well, having anyone under 13 kidnapped for a movie would be just too creepy. Seriously, how old were you when you were over the whole zoo and the circus thing? And clowns. And cotton candy. And tossin’ ping pong balls into goldfish bowls. Or tossin’ rings at peg boards to win the glass-blown tall n’ twisty Pepsi bottle for your bedroom? Who takes late-teens siblings or kids to the zoo for a birthday bash?
Okay, so the obligatory sleazy guy sees the cuties laughing and having fun. He hits on them . . . well, he’s on a nefarious recon, if you haven’t figured it out. Yep, he kidnaps little sis from the zoo’s restroom, courtesy of a female partner all set up with the ol’ wheelchair-body-switcheroo bit.
Yeah, you guess it: Screen sleaze stalwart Lance DeGault is a porn producer who sidelines as a white slaver (or is that slaver sidelining as a porn producer) who’s behind it all. And no one — not even Lt. cop boss Charles Napier (who we bow to around B&S) — will help Crampton. But the ol’ Dr. Pepper pitchman gets a wee-bit of the old “rise” over Babs, so he’ll help her, because, well, she’ll be indebted and hooked up with him. So, they go “undercover” as “porn producers” looking to cast their film. Does Babs go topless? You bet. Dr. Pepper shows his “pepper” as well, if that trips you trigger. To than end: The 1987 UK Virgin video release was cut by 2 minutes 8 secs by the BBFC and heavily edits shots of the divine Ms. Crampton being held to a bed and her bra removed with a knife.
Whatever. Big deal. They cut it. The scene’s not even offensive nor titillating — or anything. Where’s Dr. Carl Hill’s disembodied head when we need it? Or an acting coach on set. Swear to God: This is like watching a way too long two-part episode arc of Charlie’s Angeles — with a flash of boob and an errant-cum-incognito porn actress trying to go “legit” in the mainstream (and Lance DeGault was a heavy on Charlie’s Angeles at one point, so you get the TV Movieness of it all).
The cast is rounded out by Chick Vennera (two Chick flicks in one week), who’s also in the way better High Risk, Jimmy “J.J from TV’s Good Times” Walker (who can’t act and sucks in everything, even The Guvyer, where he’s even worse at his job than Mark “I Hate Trump” Hamill), and not-seen-enough screen baddie Robert Dyer, who did this all pretty much before with Linda Blair in Savage Streets.
And after watching, you’ll know why this was one of Kim Everson’s (the other was her debut in Porky’s Revenge as “Inga,” if you’re looking for it) five films for her (deserving) brief, three-year “mainstream” career — and we say “mainstream” because she was a 1984 Playmate of the Month and starred in bunch of that publication’s videos. And to than end: There’s LOTS of adult film actresses in here — not that it helps spice this boring action of boredom’er much. Oh, and for you Bert I. Gordon fans: Kim Everson starred in his stab at a T&A comedy with The Big Bet, which also stars Sylvia “Emmanuelle” Kristel, so there’s that. Yes, the guy who gave us Food of the Gods and Empire of the Ants went T&A. Hey, it was a post-Animal House and Porky’s world out there and you just gotta try.
See? It wasn’t a total loss, as you got some Bert I. Gordon trivia to amaze your friends out of the deal.
If you’re a Howard Avedis completist, and we know you are, you can watch Kidnapped on You Tube. Yeah, we know it’s dubbed in French without English subtitles. Again, as with Uncle Howie’s Texas Detour: We had an English VHS rip bookmarked, then, when we go to press, the upload — along with the trailer — is gone. Yeah, we found a copy or two on a couple of iffy (Euro?) streaming sites — and when in doubt: don’t click it. At the time of writing and going to press, a couple of used copies of Kidnapped were available on eBay — and now, they are gone. (Thanks for that update, Kevin!) So, hang tough and keep looking, ye readers: another freebie stream or vintage VHS or DVD will show up, sometime. Who knows in what digital, legal limbo Howard Avedis’s Hickmar Productions now exists. . . .
And if you’re a real, serious Howard Avedis completionist: You can check out his foreign language, pre-U.S. catalog, which he made under the names of Hekmat Aghanikyan and Hikmat Labib: The Seven O’Clock Train (1961), Autumn Leaves (1964), and 1968’s Destiny, Farewell to Lebanon, and The Red Plain. At that point, he came to the U.S. and made The Stepmother in 1972. And boy, did Avedis love flicks about older women deflowering young lads, as he proved in his later films The Teacher (1974), Dr. Minx (1975), and the aforementioned Separate Ways and They’re Playing with Fire.
Thanks for the films filling up our VCRs, Uncle Howie. We enjoyed spotlighting your catalog this week, as you surely entertained us.