Blue Murder (1985)

It is “films” such as Blue Murder that give our beloved SOV ’80s a bad reputation because, as with the lesson in apoc-tedium that is Survival: 1990 (yes, made by Emmeritus Productions, the Canadian studio that also made this; as well as the computer-takes-over-a-skyscraper romp, The Tower), this inert John Carpenter knock off is just another mismarketed Canadian TV movie, a chunk of celluloid with the unmitigated, analog gall to dovetail its fast-forwarding poo-stank alongside our cherished, rightful SOV classics of Boardinghouse (1982), Blődaren (1983), Copperhead (1983), Black Devil Doll from Hell (1984), Sledgehammer (1983), Truth or Dare (1985), and Spine (1986). Now, as we ramble n’ praddle our SOV love, there’s a caveat: Not all were shot-on-video. Some of these VHS oddities (such as Truth or Dare) critically lumped in the SOV category were shot on 16 mm and released on video — and if it’s released in a direct-to-video format for exclusive, off-the-beaten Blockbuster Video path distribution at mom ‘n pop video stores, then it’s an SOV. Got it?

Two covers, twice the Underoos stinkeroos.

You’ve been caveated, ye dear reader, for there is nothing worse than a shot-on-video Canadian TV movie (that gives those old Dan Curtis shot-on-video ’70s TV movies a bad name) masquerading as a legitimate “made for the home video market” slasher of the superior Christopher Lewis Blood Cult (1985) variety. So let’s unpack this loaded baby diaper. And don’t let the emptor hit you in the ass on the way out when you see this grindhouse aka’ing in the VHS marketplace as The Porn Murders. And if you’re wondering what the “Blue Murder” title means, well, Google “blue movies” to find that bit of marketing brilliance.

Don’t be Trans World Entertainment duped: The Clown Murders is another stinkeroo from 1976 reissued in the video ’80s (not) starring John Candy, as directed by Martyn Burke of The Last Chase fame. Oh, yeah . . . John also made an early appearance in 1978’s The Silent Partner.

Now, you’d think with a movie with a killer adorned in a dime store, plastic-elastic Clown mask hacking up porn filmmakers and actresses — leaving them with a clown-mask calling card on their faces — we’d end up with some serious shower-after-watching sleaze n’ gore. Well, we could have — if the “Roger Corman of Canadian,” William Fruet of Death Weekend (1976) fame, was at the bow of the U.S.S Argento. Or Shaun Costello of Forced Entry (1973) fame was second mate. Or Jim Sotos of that film’s remake The Last Victim (1975) was swabbin’ the decks, ye matey. Maybe if real-life porn makers Justin Simonds and John Howard of Spine fame were in the galley.

Be we digress, again.

So, to solve the crimes, the old “hard-nose homicide cop” and “intrepid crime reporter” trope (neither are hard-nosed nor intrepid, natch) spools from the master to slave sprocket as we see our killer clown fire a gun . . . then cut to the body falling to the floor. And this goes on for eight more bloodless killings — nary a boob in sight via POV Italian black-leather gloved hands clutching a silencer. Remember how Billy Eye Harper killed all of those people in Rocktober Blood (1984) — off camera? Yeah, it’s like that. Only there’s no Sorcery tunes aka’in as Head Mistress rockers to ease the boredom.

“Sexy, slick and bloodthristy — with an amazing surprise ending.”
— CVN Communications copywriter hornswogglin’

Oh, speaking of music: There’s an opening credits-glam rock theme, “Blue Murder,” but it’s not by the band of the same name Carmine Appice put together with John Sykes of Whitesnake and Tony Franklin of the Firm because, well, Carmine was too busy with King Kobra tunes masquerading as Damien-written tunes for Black Roses (1988) rockers. There’s another sappy-as-sentimental-ass love song “Madly in Like with You,” that’s not by Girlschool — and both songs should have been ditched for Kim McAuliffe and company’s “Screaming Blue Murder” and “Don’t Call it Love.”

“Okay, R.D. Enough with the ’80s heavy metal memories. Get back to the movie.”

Okay, well, the real band in the movie is known as One Life to Live. And don’t bother, as we already researched those never-was Cannuck non-rockers and there’s nary a QWERTY-character of web-Intel. But we do know that they’re not one of “Canada’s Top 20 Greatest Bands” . . . but Nickelback and Bare Naked Ladies? Oh, Canada, what the hell. Thank god Four Non-Blondes aren’t from the Great White North . . . but April Wine, is.

Hey, maybe if our killer dressed like a kitchen worker and had a beef with Entenmann’s and killed pastry chefs and left Jelly Roll calling cards. Then add in a couple Girlschool tunes — and (real life) porn actresses in schoolgirl outfits instead of friggin’ one-piece bathing suits with feather boas — and we’d be onto a sticky-sweet something.

I know, back to the movie . . . with the only online clip available . . . from Turkish TV. Yes, this made it across the ocean into Turkey.

So, eh . . . “The Porno Killer” is on the loose and attempts to harangue Dan Blake, our resourceful crime reporter, into covering his exploits . . . or more will die. So Dan consults with Lt. Rossey, his homoerotic-implied buddy-boy (e.g., the sitting-on-the-toilet-while-I-take-bubble-bath conversation) to sift through the so-not-giallo red herrings of mobster-cum-porn producers battling for each other’s 3/4-inch tape territory and corrupt cops on-the-porn take. Then there’s the one-eyed henchman and houseboys in the mansions and on the yachts of the porn producers. And don’t forget the Catholic Priest with a psychology degree explaining why someone would don a clown mask and hot-wire bombs to beds and wine bottles. (No joke: there’s bomb-wired libations.) There’s not even one of the 24th letters of the alphabet here, let alone three; but there’s a whole lot of Zzzzzz that take us to that “amazing” twist ending. . . .

Alas, the only “twist” we care about: Is the Jamie Spears starring here — in his only acting role as our intrepid reporter Dan Blake — really the father of Britney and Jamie Lynn Spears? The Magic 8-Balls of the web say, “YES” — but there’s nothing amid the web-myriad of Spears digital ephemera that states that fact. And I’m looking at both Jamie-stills and I’m not seeing the resemblance between the actor and the dad. If it is Brit’s pop — eh, is it — no wonder this was his only movie and he leeched off his daughters, aka he’s awful at acting. Really awful. And wouldn’t it have been funnier — and this film needed a dash of comedy, if anything — if the football jersey Danny-boy perpetually wears throughout the film was number “69” (yuk-yuk) instead of 66? Ah, but “66” is the numeric code for spooning . . . which makes Danny’s downward stare and Lt. Rossey’s leg hike in the tub even more distributing . . . jokes about sexually denied spherical objects in one of the three primary colors between violet and green, be damned.

“Oops, I’m lookin’ again.”

The name of Charles Wiener — considering the material — is no joke: he’s a real person who, after this writing and directing debut — wrote a Canadian not-Police Academy ripoff Recruits (1986) that only has the presence of Jon-Mikl Thor (Zombie Nightmare) to recommend it, as well as writing and directing the-Police Academy-set-inside-a-fire station-ripoff Fireballs (1989). Did you see Wiener’s Animal House-cum-Porky’s inversion, Screwball Hotel (1988)? Neither did we . . . DOH! We did? But if you’re a martial arts completionist and need a Canadian not-starring Jean-Claude Van Damme rip, there’s Wiener’s third and final directing effort, Dragon Hunt (1990), for your shelf. (No, I will not review the dogger that is Dragon Hunt, for I’ve choked down enough wieners for one day.)

Hmmmm. This sounds like another B&S About Movies gauntlet drop. But Sam never answered the Robert Clouse Gymkata (1985) challenge, so my Dragon Hunt throw down to complete the Wiener catalogin’ at B&S is for naught.

Okay, time for a nice cup of Green Tea and a slice of Entenmann’s Pound Cake, hold the crappy-ass Van Hagar not-a-pastry ode. Excuse me, could you pass a spoon? You’re lookin’ mighty fine in that numero “66” jersey, big fella.

Fork me, R.D. out.

About the Author: You can read the music and film reviews of R.D Francis on Medium and learn more about his work on Facebook.