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The Ideological Content Analysis 30 Days Putsch:

30 Reviews in 30 Days

DAY EIGHT

A-Walk-Among-the-Tombstones-Poster

As downbeat and depressing as its title suggests, A Walk Among the Tombstones has cop-turned-private-investigator Liam Neeson hired by drug dealer Dan Stevens to track down the sadistic kidnappers who took his money and dismembered his wife. In a development only a Jew could cook up, Neeson commissions a homeless but literate black teen computer whiz, vegetarian, and aspiring detective (Brian “Astro” Bradley) to help him with the case.

A Walk Among the Tombstones is one of those movies that thinks itself edgy for taking its protagonist down the dirty alleyways of the real and into America’s gritty heart of darkness – the netherworld of serial killers, drug dealers, and street-wise African-American youths with hearts of gold and brains bristling with fallow potential. Typical of the film’s pretension are the intercutting of a graveyard shootout with audio from an AA meeting, a pointless reveal of the still-standing World Trade Center at the end, and the closing credits choice of a goofily earnest female vocal rendition of Soundgarden’s grunge hit “Black Hole Sun”.

3.5 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that A Walk Among the Tombstones is:

6. Anti-Christian. The drug dealer who hires Neeson is named Kenny Kristo (i.e., Christ) and another dealer (Sebastian Roché) has a cross tattoo on his hand, the subversive meaning of these two associations being that Christianity is like peddled dope.

5. Pro-miscegenation, featuring a relationship between a mestizo and a blonde. “I gather it was a mongrel,” one character says of a canine, adding, “So many of us are.”

4. Anti-gay. The killers, it is insinuated, may be homosexuals.

3. Anti-drug. Traffickers, while portrayed with some sympathy, nonetheless endanger their families with their work, which also brings them under the scrutiny of the DEA. Neeson gives up drinking and joins AA after making a terrible mistake under the influence of alcohol.

2. Anti-gun. Set in 1999, the film shows Neeson reading a newspaper with headline “Gun Sales Rise on News of Y2K”. The implication is that gun owners are doofuses moved by paranoid patriot propaganda and conspiracy theories. When Neeson’s sidekick finds a gun, the hero advises him that he might as well go ahead and blow his head off with it, since that will be the inevitable outcome of a life of amateur pistol-packing. Neeson quit the NYPD after accidentally shooting a girl.

1. Anti-racist (i.e., pro-yawn). In a prologue set in 1991, Neeson calls his partner a “spic”. Though the character never makes an explicit disavowal of racist bigotry, it is implied in the older, wiser Neeson’s tutelage and, it is suggested at the end, adoption of his black sidekick.

Rainer Chlodwig von Kook

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Witchtrap

Witchtrap (1989) ****  Writer-director Kevin Tenney’s follow-up of sorts to his 1986 masterpiece Witchboard, this 1989 effort is, as a disclaimer on the back of the VHS box warns, nonetheless “not a sequel to WITCHBOARD.”  However, like its predecessor, it does concern the depredations of an evil spirit lingering in the world of the living and is concerned, as is Witchboard, with the existence or not of God and of the supernatural.  Similar plotwise to Puppet Master 2Witchtrap is the story of a team of paranormal investigators who move into a reputedly haunted house with high-tech equipment which, they hope, will document the spooky phenomena and help rid the place of its unsavory vibes.  Unfortunately, where Witchboard succeeds through fine-tuned tension, controlled atmosphere, and an air of pervading menace, Witchtrap is totally hokey and more liable to elicit laughs than to tingle spines; but the corniness and questionable acting do at least make Witchtrap a consistently enjoyable watch and an instant inductee into the glorious 80s camp classics pantheon of horror.

Kevin Tenney’s screenplay is full of fun, by turns quick with crude and hilarious one-liners and headscratchingly odd dialogue and events.  James Quinn, returning from Witchboard, has Witchtrap‘s best role as the sarcastic, wisecracking private dick brought in to provide reluctant security for the team of paranormal investigators.  Among the latter are Rob Zapple, who turns in a serviceably nerdy wimp performance as a medium, playing possession to zany and over-the-top perfection; two interesting-looking but frankly terrible actresses, Judy Tatum and Kathleen Bailey (who played a police detective to similarly underwhelming effect in the same year’s horror comedy Night Visitor); and – appearing long enough to please her fans and get undressed – Linnea Quigley, who so enlivened Tenney’s other masterpiece Night of the Demons.  Hal Havins, another Night of the Demons alumnus, contributes funny overweight villainy as the haunted house’s caretaker, and Tenney himself, in what is easily Witchtrap‘s worst, most deadpan performance, plays the owner who hopes to turn the place into a profitable bed and breakfast.  Not a very scary movie, but guaranteed to entertain the chintzy synth horror set.   4 out of 5 stars on the funk scale.

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