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  • Pacific Heights is required viewing in all Apartment Management courses in San Diego County. It is a chilling tale of decent but uneducated and unprepared new owners with a dream unknowingly up against a seasoned player in the professional renter game. This viewing requirement is one of the tools used to introduce starry-eyed management newcomers to the harsh and not-so-easily apparent world of the sick, the dangerous and the sue-happy portion of the rental market who will try to get the management stripped of all their personal assets and possessions, fired and possibly jailed, who work diligently to get the owner's property away from him/her, and who have no objection to going down as long as they can take others with them. Great movie.
  • Prior to this film,we only saw Michael Keaton in comedic,and good guy roles.In Pacific Heights,he proves to us that he is not afraid to turn on us and be the bad guy.Keaton is excellent as Carter Hayes,the worst kind of no account,as he knows how to stay just out of reach of the law. The character is very similar to that of Max Cady in Cape Fear,though Cady is the far more memorable of the two.Carter Hayes is a nightmarish tenant wreaking havoc on the lives of his helpless landlords,wonderfully played by Melanie Griffith and Matthew Modine.I consider this film to be an overlooked classic that never really got the attention it deserved,perhaps because no one wanted to see Keaton,particularly after his Batman success,as a villain.Those looking for a modern day "Hitchcock-esque" thriller will find a winner here.Thumbs up!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Pacific Heights is a great movie is you're in the mood for good suspense. It is the tale of two newlyweds (Melanie Griffith as Patty; Matt Modine as Drake), slightly short on reasonable income, who buy a hefty house in Pacific Heights. Being a larger house than they initially intended to buy, they rent out the floors. One goes to a polite Asian couple. The other, to a wealthy man (Michael Keaton as Carter Hayes) who is in the business of real estate scams.

    Carter is the worst case scenario of a tenant. Short of murdering the landlords and fellow tenants, he moves in rather quickly and bypasses much of the background checks by telling the impressionable young couple a bunch of lies (actually, it's pretty much Drake's fault for rushing into everything without adequately checking up on Hayes). Then, without every paying up the rent or deposit, he hangs around just long enough to get tenant's rights (or at least a presumption of rights, after which the already tight-budget couple would have to sue to claim misrepresentation and everything) and keep the couple from kicking him out. Gradually, terrorizing them as he had done so many times before. It's all part of his scam.

    Michael Keaton is terrific as the elusive and obviously strange and brutally eerie Carter Hayes. He is so creepy, I think that's what makes the movie so suspenseful like the scene when he's hanging out in the basement when the power goes out. Or the final revenge sequence in the hotel (perhaps the finale is one of the greatest revenge sequences ever in a movie!). The guy who's made it his purpose to raise as much hell as possible to get what he wants. But, this may well be the last time Carter gets away with it. Patty and Drake seem to fall apart when their tenant not only refuses to leave, but makes trouble for the other tenants (in a pretty gross way).

    Drake doesn't handle the situation too well. The couple immediately feel helpless when even the law fails to rid them of Carter Hayes. The viewer, too, gets on edge about Carter Hayes. How do you make a guy like this get the f*ck out of your home? (That's one of the great elements of suspense, in a way, we feel like the invasion of Patty and Drake's home is like an invasion of our own. That's just how powerful a character like Carter Hayes is). And Drake's form of vigilante justice isn't the smartest way of handling the situation, using fists of fury rather than intellect, which seems to only exacerbate the couple's problems. In fact, Patty is the one responsible for the fantastic events that create one of the best revenge scenes and really give Carter Hayes his own just deserts.

    Pacific Heights really is a fantastic thriller. Some might not appreciate Matthew Modine being cast as Drake here. A part like this might've called for someone less dorky, since Drake wasn't really a straggly guy, he was just a guy who wanted to get rid of Carter too fast without really thinking about the smartest way of going about it. However, Melanie Griffith works great in her role as Patty. Nonetheless, it is really good stuff, a thriller that you're sure to enjoy!
  • Tito-85 September 1999
    This film didn't completely win me over like I was hoping it would, but some solid acting, a good premise, and a few clever scenes made it worthwhile. There was never anything particularly suspenseful about the film, and you pretty much know who will win by the end, but the loathesome Michael Keaton character helped to keep me interested throughout. There were also a few things that especially annoyed me, including the terminally stupid Matthew Modine character, but this movie just has too many positives for me to dwell on the negatives. It's by no means perfect, but it's an effective thriller nonetheless.
  • I saw this movie again recently, and I have to say that upon reconsideration I think this film is a bit underrated. There are a few deeper sociological issues being explored here that I perceive but are quite subtle in their appearance in the film.

    It is a study about the law to some degree, and it has some critical things to say about the ability for one who knows the law and its loopholes and thus exploits others with tools that were originally intended to preserve civil society. Keaton plays a psycho, but one who is highly educated and quite adept at his craft of fraud and deceit.

    Further, Modine's character is irrational, befuddled, and ultimately marginalized. I wonder if the director took some liberties with him (as this is a true story, I don't know everything about the real person he portrays) to bring out a few of his close-minded tendencies that may have contributed to the awful situation in which he finds himself. Obviously, there is the closet racism which keeps him from renting to a black man (this is thrown in the viewer's face later and is quite obvious), but there is also the way he perceives a man's role as the solver of problems and his wife as nothing more than a spectator.

    That she ends up being the one to calmly and coolly affect a search for and investigate Keaton's character, assaults the traditional notions of a man's role as a protector. Her temperament is ultimately more appropriate for the solution to the problem, and I think it is no accident that the director portrays it in this way.
  • Pacific Heights works because of Michael Keaton. Pacific Heights is an underrated movie and has Michael Keaton playing a sinister role as the tenant from hell. Melanie Griffith and Mathew Modine play a yuppie San Francisco couple who rent out their sublet to others. Unfortunately Michael Keaton- a rich but shady customer enters the fray and immediately convinces them to let him stay. It's a psychological thriller with a nice setting. I suggest you go in with an open mind.
  • An unusual choice for Michael Keaton to follow up his first "Batman" movie with him going from hero and to outright villain.

    Plot In A Paragraph: Drake Goodman (Modine) and Patty Palmer (Griffith)an unmarried couple, purchase an expensive 19th-century house in the exclusive Pacific Heights neighbourhood. They rent one of the building's two first-floor apartments to the Watanabes, a kindly Japanese couple. Not long after, Carter Hayes (Keaton) visits to view the remaining vacant unit and immediately expresses a desire to move in. Hayes drives an expensive Porsche and carries large amounts of cash on him. He convinces Drake to waive the credit check in exchange for a list of personal references and an upfront payment of the first six months' rent, to be paid by wire transfer. Before any of that happens he moves in unannounced and refuses to leave.

    Melanie Griffith whilst looking great is awful acting wise, and Matthew Modine had me questioning how this man forged a career as an actor. Some of my main annoyances came from his character, and I had my concerns that he may end up being the real psycho, but his performance really was dire.

    It's Keaton as the villain of the piece, who shines and gives the movie it's best scenes. Tippi Hedren and Dan Hedaya have small roles and Beverley D'Angelo has an uncredited role as a former lover/business partner of Carter's. I'm not sure why she is uncredited though.
  • William Goldman says that the last 15 minutes are the most important of any movie and that's what saves what is otherwise a sometimes fascinating but often dull film in "Pacific Heights."

    The plot line is fairly interesting but feels rather drawn out through most of the film, until the fantastic ending pulls out all the stops and turns the film into something good. The writing in general is a bit contrived and the dialogue fairly wooden, but it isn't quite enough to destroy the film even early.

    The acting is very uneven, led by a terrible Melanie Griffith and a middling performance by Matthew Modine in terms of screen time, but certainly controlled by the fantastic performance of Michael Keaton, one of the world's greatest actors. Keaton is especially fantastic in the final sequence, from his charming act with the old woman to his harrowing, venemous final scene there is a complete change in who he is and it is all the more frightening and powerful for the juxtaposition.

    Schlesinger's direction, besides Keaton's performance, is probably the saving grace of the film. He manages to inject a beautiful dark style to the film that the script rather lacks but seems to want while also keeping us in a blunt reality with the plain, simple outdoor shots. His use of lighting and well-chosen camera angles wonderfully play up the situation.

    Overall, "Pacific Heights" is a middling film with a fantastic performance by Michael Keaton and good direction by John Schlesinger that turns into something better with its fantastic, surprising, venemously satisfying ending. If you watch it, though, don't give up on it 'til it's over.
  • This is a carefully programmed yuppie nightmare, something to titillate the emotions betwixt the sushi and the creme de mint, something to remind the upwardly mobile that you have to keep your guard up at all times because there are animals out there waiting to take it all away from you.

    Clever plot premise: Yuppie couple, stylishly unmarried, possibly for tax purposes, buy a painted lady in the Pacific Heights district of San Francisco, a Victorian fixer upper for $750,000. It's the 1980's and everybody is getting rich in California real estate. They are now in yuppie heaven since there are two rentals on the property which take care of $2300 of the $3700 monthly mortgage, which leaves them responsible for only $1400, which is less then they were paying before, and now they have a huge tax write-off and hopefully an appreciating property. Of course they are margined to the gills, but what can go wrong?

    How about the tenant from hell? Forget about your wild parties and your late-with-the-rent dead beats. This guy (Michael Keaton as a slimy, upper crust psycho genius) doesn't even pay the deposit. He just moves in, squats, and our yuppie couple is helpless to get rid of him since by law he now has possession. He changes the locks, cultivates big ugly oriental cockroaches, and pounds away at all hours of the night, and chases off the other tenant. Seems he has done this before. Seems it is an elaborate scam to gain total possession of the entire property. Next to go are the owners.

    Naturally the cops and the law seem to work for him, not our adorable couple. (This is a little fictional reality to further excite the passions of the audience, call it poetic license, since we all know that the tenant/landlord laws in California are written by and for the propertied class, as they are anywhere else, as is only right.)

    But this is a morality play. Could it be that our yuppies are undeserving of their wealth and are easy prey in the econ jungle because of their naiveté? Could be. But as this is a modern morality tale, you can be sure that the woman, played with worrisome lines under her eyes by the ever adorable Melanie Griffith, will turn the tables and kick some male butt despite the handicap of having a not too bright boyfriend, who is easily manipulated by our villain into some rather stupid male behavior that makes things worse for our heroine. Incidentally, he is played with such annoying exactitude by Matthew Modine that I can hear the rednecks in the audience screaming: "Die yuppie scum!"

    It should be noticed that the adversary of the yuppies is not your standard ghetto dweller, but a wayward member of the upper class, a fitting adversary in this yuppie trial by fire.

    I'll let you guess who wins.

    (Note: Over 500 of my movie reviews are now available in my book "Cut to the Chaise Lounge or I Can't Believe I Swallowed the Remote!" Get it at Amazon!)
  • ags12329 May 2019
    Close to thirty years after it was made, "Pacific Heights" remains an entertaining thriller. Its lack of cell phones and computers is outweighed by a plot that still resonates today. The story has lots of twists and turns, some more outlandish than others, but they're what make the film so watchable and fun. Michael Keaton usually gets all the acclaim for his characterization of a mad sociopath, but Melanie Griffith (looking beautiful pre- plastic surgery) turns in an excellent leading performance as well. Matthew Modine's contribution is not to be overlooked (love his little kite factory). All the casting is on target, including Laurie Metcalf as a lawyer and Tippi Hedren as a socialite. What separates this film from others in the genre is John Schlesinger's astute direction. Schlesinger (who makes a cameo appearance in an elevator) wasn't known to direct many thrillers (Marathon Man) but his keen eye on human behavior (Midnight Cowboy, The Day of the Locust) elevates this film to a higher level.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Pacific Heights is unusual among psycho-thrillers because of its completely different approach to psychological terror. Instead of a Freddy Krueger or a Michael Myers we have Michael Keaton as a psychotic tenant who makes life hell for his landlords Melanie Griffith and Matthew Modine. Knowing every legal loophole in the book, his weapons of choice are restraining orders and civil suits, not butcher knives and chainsaws. Driving them to increasingly desperate measures to evict him, Keaton dreams up new and more sadistic methods to torment them.

    I've always thought Pacific Heights is rather underrated. It's got a mite more intelligence than you'd expect from Hollywood's hijacked psycho-stalker genre. John Schlesinger directs it all with confidence, but then he's an old hand in this area. And Michael Keaton is wonderfully malevolent. His presence makes the entire movie. I've always enjoyed the course the film takes us on. Even if it occasionally gets into some muddy areas along the way, Pacific Heights is compelling to the very end.

    Modine and Griffith play Drake Goodman and Patty Palmer. A young and naive yuppie couple, they renovate a Victorian house in San Francisco. Truthfully, the house is more than they can afford, but can (barely) make ends meet by renting out two downstairs apartments. One to a nice Japanese couple. And the other to businessman Carter Hayes (Keaton).

    Hayes moves in without permission, or even a down payment. He locks himself in, not paying any rent. He has a roommate, who hammers away to all hours of the night. He changes the locks. Breeds cockroaches. Drives away the other tenants. And because no money is coming in, Drake and Patty's legal status is becoming all the more shakier. As is they're relationship.

    Pacific Heights is a film that comes with a certain appeal when looked at closely enough. The idea of a tenant being able to have more power than a landlord is scary stuff. I didn't always believe some of the stunts the film pulls. Unleashing hordes of cockroaches is perhaps going a little too far. Even for a psycho-thriller. Even a tenant who knows how to manipulate the law for his own purposes would have to face culpability sometime.

    And yet at the same time, Pacific Heights is a constant source of fascination. Hayes leads Drake and Patty through a wonderfully complex legal minefield. Its surprisingly the film's threats of foreclosure and mounting bills that are more effective than its outright sinister approaches.

    This is a criminally overlooked performance on Michael Keaton's resume. In fact he's always been an actor long overdue recognition. Hot off the success of Batman, Keaton plunges right into the role of Carter Hayes with pure, unadulterated relish. Even though Hayes' motivations are never exactly made clear, its Keaton's performance that sells the character.

    This is a man with no redeeming qualities whatsoever. He apparently comes from a broken home. Shut out of the family fortune. Disowned. So now he takes a perverse pleasure in destroying the lives of those happier than his. Keaton is a powerful presence. All the more remarkable considering he spends most of the film behind closed doors.

    Whenever Keaton is around, you sit up and pay attention. But I can't really say the same for Modine and Griffith. Modine is annoying the way he stupidly plays into Hayes' hands time and again.

    And as for Griffith, she only really comes into her own towards the end. Melanie Griffith once showed signs of being a promising actress in the 80s. Witness her superb performance in Working Girl. But over the years her star has paled, and now she's nothing more than another face in the crowd.

    But towards the end, we finally see something of the promise she showed in Working Girl. She exacts a little revenge on Hayes by playing him at his own game. She tracks him down to a swanky hotel, has his bank account frozen, and charges hundreds of dollars worth of room service to his credit card. That's the Melanie I remember.

    But elsewhere, every shred of enjoyment to be had comes courtesy of Keaton. There is something wonderfully poetic to Pacific Heights at times. Not to mention unnerving. Like when Hayes calmly provokes Drake into beating the crap out of him, because the stress of all this causes a pregnant Patty to suffer a miscarriage. And best of all, Drake is legally restrained from entering his own home. Because of Hayes' presence there.

    The climax is pretty good too. That's the point when Schlesinger (and Keaton) forgets about being courteous, and launches into all out psycho mode. Complete with nail-guns and spikes.

    Pacific Heights is maddeningly vague at times about where its going to go next. But I think its a worthwhile film, and well worthy of reevaluation. Also look out for a fine turn from the underrated Laurie Metcalf as Drake and Patty's attorney. She lights up the screen just as much as Keaton does.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    It's very unusual for a conflict between a house-owning couple and a strange tenant to provide the plot for a psychological thriller but in "Pacific Heights", that's exactly what happens. This set-up is initially intriguing but soon takes on a darker complexion as it gradually becomes apparent just how sinister and dangerous the newest occupant of the house really is. The tension then builds steadily as the conflict becomes increasingly intense and the stakes get higher.

    Drake Goodman (Matthew Modine) and his girlfriend Patty Palmer (Melanie Griffith) are an ambitious middle-class couple who decide to buy a Victorian house in the Pacific Heights neighbourhood of San Francisco. They both know that the property is really beyond their means, but after massaging some of the figures on their mortgage application, they soon become the proud owners of the impressive house which also needs some renovation work which they decide to undertake themselves. The financial commitment they've taken on is only sustainable if they let the two downstairs apartments and so arranging for this to be done becomes a priority.

    A very pleasant Japanese couple soon move into one of the apartments and among the applicants for the second one is a well-dressed, smooth-talking, charmer called Carter Hayes (Michael Keaton). Drake is so impressed by Hayes (who carries a large amount of cash with him and drives a Porsche) that he doesn't insist on him completing a credit application. Hayes promises that he'll pay six months rent in advance and that he'll arrange for this to be done by wire transfer. Before any money is actually paid, Hayes moves into the apartment and after a great deal of stalling, refuses to pay any rent.

    Things get progressively worse when Hayes moves a friend in and starts hammering and drilling loudly at all times of the day and night. The couple get anxious about what's being done inside the apartment and the Japanese couple move out because the disturbance they suffer through the nights is intolerable, as is the plague of cockroaches which suddenly infests their apartment. Drake stops Hayes' drilling by cutting off the electricity but this action gets him into trouble with the police and later, his efforts to get Hayes evicted also fail because the law always seems to be on the tenant's side.

    A series of further provocations continue to pile pressure on the couple whose relationship suffers as Drake starts to drink too much and Patty suffers a miscarriage. They feel totally powerless until some action that Patty takes gives her an opportunity to get rid of Hayes but what happens later isn't necessarily what she would've hoped for or expected.

    Michael Keaton is a tremendous villain and utterly convincing as the psychopathic scam artist who's an expert at acquiring properties by unorthodox means and at very favourable prices. Melanie Griffith also does really well as Patty who is far more rational and intelligent than her partner and who also provides some of the most enjoyable moments of the movie when she decides to turn the tables on Hayes. Matthew Modine also gives an energetic performance as the hot-headed, impulsive and not-very-bright Drake whose actions regularly do more harm than good.

    "Pacific Heights" is entertaining, less predictable than many thrillers and definitely not "run of the mill". It's these qualities together with the performances of Keaton and Griffith that ultimately make this such an enjoyable movie to watch.
  • What hurt my rating in this movie was that friend said "It was the scariest, most suspenseful film I've ever seen!" Well, I didn't find this to be the tense thriller she said.....or even close. Since I expected more, I was disappointed.

    The only interesting character was the villain, "Carter Hayes," played nicely by Michael Keaton. The problem was he wasn't shown that much in the film. This movie needed more scenes with him in it, and less of the two other major characters: "Drake Goodman." (Matthew Modine) and "Patty Palmer" (Melanie Griffith).

    This starts off promising, as if it's going to be very suspenseful. Maybe it was Modine's unlikable character that turned me. Whatever it didn't have the impact I was expecting. Overall: disappointing.
  • If Fred and Ethel Mertz had ever seen "Pacific Heights", they might have thought twice about giving Lucy and Ricky an apartment - and I don't mean that in a funny way. When San Francisco renters Patty Palmer (Melanie Griffith) and Drake Goodman (Matthew Modine) fix up an apartment, they sell it to newcomer Carter Hayes (Michael Keaton). But something's not quite right about this guy. And when they ask him to leave, things get really ugly.

    "Pacific Heights" is one of those movies that show the dangerous side of a certain lifestyle, in this case being a renter. You probably won't want to be a renter after watching this movie. Michael Keaton makes one perplexing character - but he's not perplexing for long. Griffith and Modine really give one the impression of sinking into desperation. You won't want to miss this one - it just might save your life.

    Oh, and by the way, Griffith's mom Tippi Hedren also appears in this movie.
  • Drake Goodman (Matthew Modine) and his girlfriend Patty Palmer (Melanie Griffith) are stretching their finances to the limit to buy a San Francisco house. They need to rent the two ground floor apartments to cover the mortgage. They rent one apartment to the nice Watanabes. The other one they rent to Carter Hayes (Michael Keaton). Carter seems to be well-off initially. Things turn quickly. Carter never pays rent. He causes problems. The law is on his side. The couple gets Stephanie MacDonald (Laurie Metcalf) as their lawyer.

    Matthew Modine is so angry and so unlikeable that it's hard to root for him. He keeps yelling at everybody and it happens very quickly after the first hurdle. Michael Keaton is a nice creepy villain. It's somewhat a horror. The problem is that it's not a fun horror. The thrills are derived from annoyance. It is very good at being an uncomfortable watch. It's actually a relief when Modine takes a backseat to Griffith. For what it is, this is expertly made.
  • Warning: Spoilers

    Manipulative, effective tale of the tenant from hell. Keaton, well-dressed, polite, aces out other tenants and rents one of two apartments in an old Victorian house that a yuppie couple, Modine and Griffith, have just gone deeply into hock to buy and have lovingly refurbished. The couple have maxed out their loan capability and need to rent both apartments in order to meet the mortgage on their $750,000 home in San Francisco. Griffith is also pregnant, so their entire future is riding on this investment.

    Things begin well enough. The Watanabes rent one of the apartments and Keaton the other, although there is some problem with his credit check. Still, he weasels his way in by eliminating the application of another prospective tenant and by making earnest promises to pay soon. He also takes immediate possession of the apartment without formal invitation.

    Then things go downhill fast. Hammering and electric power tools can be heard from Keaton's apartment day and night. He seems to have an unsavory, surly roommate. He changes the locks on the door so Modine can't get in. The Watanabe's complain that the noise is keeping them awake at night. Nobody answers Modine's increasingly frantic knocks on the apartment door. A horde of cockroaches that have been hatched in Keaton's apartment invade the rest of the house, driving the Watanabe's away. Griffith has a miscarriage. Not even loan sharks will lend them enough money for the mortgage payment. When Modine shuts off the electric to Keaton's apartment, Keaton calls the police.

    If you want to know why I used the word manipulative in describing this movie, the scene when the police arrive during the confrontation between the couple and Keaton is a good example. We've all seen this situation before. Innocent people accused by an evildoer in the presence of skeptical cops. ("How much wine did you have to drink before you think you saw a murder next door?" That sort of thing.) Modine, the victim in this case, of course would be most effective if he calmly explained what had happened, matching Keaton's smooth and reasonable-sounding lies. Instead he goes all to pieces, shouting obscenities at Keaton, sounding like a raving looney, until the cops have to haul him off to the side and tell him Keaton is within his rights and that he, Modine, should get a lawyer.

    He and Griffith do so, and the lawyer turns out to be sympathetic, helpless, and expensive. Debt is piled upon debt, and nothing's coming in. After the loss of their unborn child, Modine and Keaton are visited by a phonily contrite Keaton in person, who has just called the police and alerted them to an assault that is about to take place. It does. Modine beats hell out of Keaton and throws him through a glass door. The police arrive, cuff Modine, and he winds up in jail, unable to make bail and facing a civil suit from the slimy tenant. Keaton also has a restraining order put upon Modine, so that Modine must leave his own house and stay 500 feet from it while Keaton is present. An ominous phone call from Griffith brings him back illegally, only to be met in the hallway and shot by Keaton.

    But Griffith manages to discover Keaton's identity and establish his MO, thereby getting him into trouble. Keaton attacks her at night, attempting to nail her head to the floor with a staple gun, but is impaled upon the sword of justice, I mean the protruding bolts provided by the scriptwriters.

    More examples of manipulative techniques that are now utterly standardized. When entering a room in which there is reason to believe danger lurks, the victim doesn't turn on the lights. A previously somewhat dim-witted ordinary bourgeois turns into a virtual sleuth in the blink of an eye. The villain's motive is sloughed off as unimportant -- all he really winds up doing is stealing some appliances, although he's already rich as Croesus.

    Still, for all the implausibilities, there's a lot of tension as the screws tighten on the yuppie couple. (They have to sell the house in the end, but don't worry -- they make a tidy profit.) The movie has a glossy modern sheen. The old house looks just fine sitting up there on a hill in Pacific Heights. It gives us violence but no shootouts or car chases or explosions. The main source of dread is one that any of us could feel -- of having overreached ourselves, of buying shares of Enron and watching it nosedive, of having gotten in over our heads, of losing our jobs, of being victimized hatefully by a total stranger. If you want to see the story in its raw form, without the newly applied bone white latex and the Kohler faucets, rent the original "Cape Fear."
  • This may be one of those older thrillers you never got around to seeing, and wonder if it's worth a watch. That was me--and truthfully, a couple of times during the movie, I wondered too. Made in 1990, under John Schlesinger's direction, I'd expected something better. This young couple was undeniably victimized by their resident psycho--it's Keaton who really deserves the acting credit--their reactions didn't elicit much sympathy. (I was more concerned about the cat.) But I wanted to stick it out to see what happens at the end. This reviewer suggests: if you like the cast (besides Griffith, Keaton, and Modine, the players include Laurie Metcalf, Dorian Harewood, Mako, and Tippi Hedren) do give it a viewing. It's a star or two better than many similar efforts.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    It's not often we're asked to sympathise with landlords. Usually they're the villains of the piece. They're the ball-breakers, the money grabbers and the bastards who'll kick you out of your gaff just for playing your Kenny G collection a fraction louder than normal. But remember, this is essentially an 80s film – sure it may have been released in 1990, but that's a mere technicality. Therefore we're in the 'greed is good' era. The era that looks up to yuppies and people who live well beyond their means. So we're meant to feel sorry for these people, people whose biggest problem in life is whether they should go for a 750k Victorian house in an exclusive neighbourhood or something more modest – say, something for a paltry half million. I'm sure many people would like that sort of problem.

    But I'm being a bit harsh. You need a big house for a film like this: a glossy, vacuous thriller. A two up two down just wouldn't have the same effect. I mean, could you imagine Panic Room in a semi-detached? It wouldn't work. But still, for a variety of reasons it is somewhat difficult to feel sorry for the couple in the film.

    The first reason has already been given. I'm an envious bastard. I wish I could live in such a beautiful house. The second reason, though, is that Matthew Modine and Melanie Griffith are perhaps the blandest couple in cinematic history. If they were a colour they'd be magnolia. If they were a snack they'd be bread and butter. And if they were a country they'd be Belgium. I just can't get terribly caught up in their plight. And the third reason for my apathy is that they're so stupid. They rent out an apartment to some bloke just because he drives a Porsche and flashes some cash. Sod that, just give me your credit details. But of course, the sneaky Carter Hayes has an excuse ready and manages to convince them that he's a stand-up guy. He even has some false references set up.

    But again I'm being harsh. But this time I'm being harsh on Melanie Griffith's character Patty. It's Drake (Modine) that Carter fools. Patty is suspicious from the start. And it's actually quite clear that Patty is infinitely more intelligent and resourceful than Drake. She's the one who tracks down Carter when he goes missing. She's the one who finds out about Carter's past. And she's the one who bumps Carter off (yeah, Drake may grab hold of Carter's ankle and steal the glory, but Patty does the hard work). And to further prove how emasculated Drake is, Patty's a better decorator and she takes control when screwing. And after Drake gets shot she tucks him in for beddy-byes. Patty's the one with the balls.

    And further highlighting the strange gender reversal in the film is how pleased Drake is when he's forced to move out of the big house and into a flat with one of his mates. Patty is all-alone with the dastardly Carter Hayes while Drake is living it up with his pal. We even see them flambéing together! But remember, this is San Francisco we're talking about. (It's also worth noting that Dorian Harewood plays Drake's pal. It's a Full Metal Jacket reunion. Joker and Eightball on Civvy Street.)

    But gender reversal aside, the film is entirely conventional. The bad guy is something of a genius, the other tenants are kindly individuals and the only hope for justice is justifiable homicide. Indeed, the law, in time-honoured fashion, proves itself to be a complete ass. Some goddamned liberal has given tenants rights! The bastards! But hey, at least the film proves that all you've got to do to get justice is to go after the dangerous psychopath that's been making your life a misery, enrage him, force him to break into your home and kill him before he kills you. It's the recourse I'll stand by if I'm ever in the same situation.

    But despite the film's predictability and it's numerous faults, it's still enjoyable entertainment. Yeah Griffith's helium-powered voice is annoying. Yeah Patty's investigation into Carter's whereabouts is made ridiculously easy by the fact that Ellen Griswold hands her a postcard with Carter's current location pictured on the front. And yeah it has a dream sequence that looks like it comes from Spinal Tap and an oriental couple who bow a lot, but damn it, it has Carter Hayes! The man's a loony extraordinaire.

    My favourite Carter bit is when he comes to 'apologise' after Patty has a miscarriage. "Nature can be so cruel some times." How can you not love a guy like that? And he also breeds cockroaches and plays with razor blades while sitting in the dark in his car. Of course, it makes no sense that he's sitting there in his car – the oriental couple accidentally knock out the power and Patty has to go to the garage where she sees Carter who apparently sits there all day moodily smoking in his Porsche on the off chance that this might happen – but who cares? We like our movie psychos to have panache.

    We also like our movie psychos to be smart. And at the beginning Carter does well on this front. He plays everyone like clockwork. But when the script demands it he can be as stupid as Forrest Gump. He keeps a book of newspaper clippings with him so that his entire past can be revealed when the heroine decides to get revenge. Oh how vain you are Carter! And oh how dead, too. Another thing we like from our psychos is a nasty death, and Carter gets a good one. He falls onto a couple of steel pipes. Ouch! And thankfully the film refrains from the standard, 'Boo, I'm not really dead' final shock. It's about the only cliché the film avoids.
  • Pacific Heights is different and a very serious movie! It has Melanie Griffith and Matthew Modine in very good performances! In My opinion Griffith looked and spoke very similar like Meg Ryan (in Armed and Dangerous) and speaking of someone being similar like someone else I thought the same about Luca Bercovici as he looked and spoke very similar like D.B. Sweeney! Laurie Metcalf and Mako good were good. Look for Tracey Walter, Beverly D'Angelo, Dan Hedaya, and Jerry Hardin! But the star of this film is Michael Keaton! His performance is arguably better than his Batman performance! His character is so unique in My opinion! His character is unpredictable and intelligent! You can't help but wonder what is going on with him, what has he done in the past and what is his next move? Who really is Carter Hayes? Hans Zimmer's score is very cool and I think its one of his best! This is a very good movie that's full of mystery and suspense and if you like the cast mentioned above and are a big fan of Michael Keaton then this is a must plus I strongly recommend it!

    Movie Nuttball's NOTE:

    Here an interesting fact! In Batman Michael Keaton was Batman and Tracey Walter played Bob the Goon. In Conan the Destroyer Mako played Akiro 'The Wizard' and Tracey Walter was Malak. In Pacific Heights they are all in it together!
  • "Pacific Heights" is based on a true story, about a couple who rent out an apartment to a crazy scam man, played by Michael Keaton in the film, who reak havoc. Needless to say, this is a very basic and very predictable "thriller," if that is what you want to call it, but it's more of a character study, and despite its predictability it IS very watchable.

    3/5 stars -

    John Ulmer
  • tfrizzell26 July 2002
    Sick little film has the dark and shady Michael Keaton terrorizing Melanie Griffith and Matthew Modine after he rents the ground-floor apartment from the young couple. Keaton is truly frightening as the wild psychopath who just will not leave, but he gets no support from the rest of the cast. When Keaton finally decides he has done all he can to make life a living hell he takes off, but Griffith wants her revenge. This is supposedly based on a true story, but in the end a stumbling screenplay and unclear direction by John Schlesinger keeps "Pacific Heights" from reaching as high as it should have reached. 2.5 out of 5 stars.
  • paul2001sw-118 February 2006
    I don't usually give away the plot when reviewing movies, but the storyline of 'Pacific Heights' is so ludicrous that one cannot discuss the film properly without considering its absurdities. Its lead characters are a young couple who acquire a squatter, bad news because they need to rent the basement he is occupying in order to pay their own mortgage. Moreover, the guy is a bit creepy, and soon it appears his aim is not just to live rent free but also to provoke his landlords into legally punishable actions against him, and maybe even to con his way to gaining possession of their entire house. As in all movies of this sort, the villain's ability to destroy the heroes' lives is dependent on his almost supernatural ability to predict their behaviour, and his willingness to endure pain to achieve his goals; the film's execution is unsubtle and the every plot development is heavily signposted; but up to this point, it still holds up as a routine but serviceable thriller. Then things get really bad. The tenant finally vanishes, but not before stealing all the fixtures and fittings (why he does so, and why, if he'd planned to do this, had he bothered to set up all the potential lawsuits he hereby abandons, no-one ever explains). The police finally accept he is crook, but believe they have no way of catching him. So the female hero immediately chases after him herself, her only lead stupidly helps her without meaning to, and she successfully tracks him down within 24 hours. In real life, she would now phone the cops; in Hollywood, she might kill him. In this film, she chooses instead to play a schoolgirl prank on him (now there's a smart thing to do to a psychopath!), and needless to say, he comes back for a laughably violent showdown (fought with D.I.Y. equipment) which ends when he happens to falls onto some conveniently waiting iron spikes. To call such nonsense drivel is to pay it a compliment.

    As for the cast, Michael Keaton is enigmatically menacing as the tenant, but Matthew Modine and Melanie Griffith are largely (I think unintentionally) irritating as the couple he targets as his victims. As for director John Schlesinger, he has made a number of interesting movies; but boy, is this not one of them.
  • I'm a fan of nearly all of Michael Keaton's movie work. He's an excellent and well roused actor who can do both comedy and drama in equal measures of greatness. I've got nothing against either Meg Ryan or Matthew Modine as they played the roles they were given as directed. I despise their characters on nearly every level. The blatant stupidity of Modine's character and the near 'magical' investigatory skills of Ryan's character. I also think the so-called realistic BS premise that 'the black guy never gets fair treatment by white people' was totally uncalled for and could have been handled much better with the exact same characters.

    Another thing I've noticed from reading many reviews of this film both good and bad, was the total disregard for the relationship and character of Beverly D'Angelo's character we see in the opening of the film, then as Meg finds her through that magical investigation into who Keaton's character really is. Not one mentions how D'Angelo is just like Keaton's character and how the opening scene showed Keaton's character setting up D'Angelo's husband as the sucker who beats Keaton nearly to death which allows Keaton to sue and either get the property he was in, or some other type of large settlement for being 'seemingly' beaten without cause. It's not stated, but it's clearly implied that D'Anglelo shares in his scheme and profit. She's just as ruthless and a sociopath as much as Keaton's character is.

    I used to rent rooms/homes to people back in NJ where I'm originally from between 1984 - 1995. I KNOW the laws shown in the movie are 100% accurate and true based on the situation shown. Before the word being used, it used to be called 'Squatters Rights' which protect anyone who takes possession of a room or home. It was meant to PREVENT landlords from being unreasonable to their tenants. However, like most once positive things such as 'Workers Unions', the laws have NEVER been amended and now make the landlords more open to abuse if the landlords happen to stupid like Modine's character certainly is.

    The law (at least in Florida I'm certain of) now states that any landlord can evict any tenant for ANY reason and give ONLY 30 days notice in writing. If the tenant has not left the property in good condition, the landlord can sue for monies spent to return the same place back to the condition it was in at time of tenants possession. Must have photos of space before renting date stamped and preferably notarized. PLUS, if tenant is not gone within the 30 days, the landlord can call the police to physically remove the tenant(s) without their belongings which would need to removed and given back to the tenant IF it isn't being held as collateral for any damages during the time the tenant was in possession.

    How Keaton does what he does isn't the point. It's two fold in my opinion. First it shows how careful you need to be about who your rent to and how to handle any problems. Secondly, Keaton's character does what he does because he ENJOYS CAUSING OTHERS TO SUFFER WHILE HE GETS REWARDED BY THE LEGAL SYSTEM knowing that if he pushes his 'marks' just the right way, they will do something illegal HE can call the police about. As one reviewer said...I'd just kill him and tell the police "I thought he was an intruder breaking in." If done correctly, this would work according to the legal system.

    If this movie should ever be remade, I can only hope the writers & director come up with a better script. But after what happened in 2008 with the mortgage bond fraud that nearly caused the entire planet to become bankrupt, I highly doubt Hollywood would even think of stirring ANYTHING having to do with real estate and how the laws are all out of whack.

    I hope this review of the movie sheds more light on the subject of this film as well as some major bits seemingly ignored or missed by those who also posted reviews.
  • "It's not personal. He's a professional." That's the advice given to the Melanie Griffith and Matthew Modine - the couple in this movie - when they are robbed blind by the tenant from hell. Their beautiful home is stolen from under their feet and their marriage is put in jeopardy by ice-man Keaton's psychological demolition job.

    Having experience something similar from a sub-let myself I am not surprised that this is based on a true story as it rings chillingly true. I have met this kind of person and they are just like that. If they meet a nice, attractive, hardworking and likable couple justifiably proud of their dream house such a sociopath will only have one thought in their head; "How do I get it away from them?" In these days of second mortgages and 'extreme makeovers' we can hardly be surprised if this kind of villain multiplies faster than the cockroaches Keaton releases into Griffith and Modine's house.

    Watching this movie was certainly cathartic for me - and the ending was certainly satisfying. OK, maybe a little implausible? So what? So is Lord of the Rings - this film did it for me and if you've ever been conned by a demon tenant then you'll know exactly what I mean.

  • Patty and Drake push their financial boat out and purchase a sprawling Victorian house in an exclusive San Francisco neighbourhood. To cover the costs they rent out the ground floor apartments. The first goes to elderly couple the Watanbes, while the downstairs looks like it will got to Lou Baker, but when "businessman" Carter Hayes rolls into town offering cash and months in advance, Drake welcomes him as a tenant. However it doesn't take long before Carter's bank transfer doesn't come through and his strange behaviour begins with all-night DIY and avoidance tactics. Drake tries to force him out but the law is won Carter's side and a standoff ensues.

    At a time it seems like there was a spate of films that dealt with the intruder within and this is only one of them – and not a great one at that. From the very opening scene nothing is really explained about Carter and yet the film seems happy to just let him lose on Patty and Drake without really telling us why he is doing what he is doing. I realise that his motivations are gradually revealed across the film but they are muddled at best and the lack of clarity doesn't really help the drama because it all just seems to be happening for no reason. It does distract though but I didn't find it offered much more than that. It does just what you expect it to do and ends exactly how you expect it to end and is pretty unspectacular at every turn. Schlesinger doesn't do anything that special to make it better than it is on paper and I must confess that I was surprised by how dull it was.

    The cast can't do much to help matters. Griffith does her usual whiny thing which apparently appealed to a mass audience at one time; if you like that then that is what she does but for me she just seems as far removed from a real person as she could get. It doesn't help that neither her nor Modine are given real people to work with nor that they don't have any chemistry together. On his own Modine is obvious and not that great. Keaton is convincingly creepy and is a nice presence but the material doesn't deserve him and he never gets to do anything with his character that he hasn't done in the first 30 minutes or so. The supporting cast are only so-so but have value in terms of "oh look it's …" novelty thanks to Metcalf, Lumbly, Hedaya, Hedren, Mako and a few others.

    Overall though this is not anything special at all. It does just what you expect and doesn't even seem that fussed to establish reasons or mystery for it and, as a result, the lack of tension is telling. The performances aren't up to much either, not helped by the lacklustre material, while the director just seems happy to do whatever shots seem the easiest to do. Not rubbish by any means but instantly forgettable and wastes whatever potential it had to rise above the pack.
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