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  • tarbosh2200028 September 2012
    Warning: Spoilers
    Kuttner (De Broux) is an inmate at the New Mexico State Penitentiary. At his parole hearing, he is determined by the board, including by psychologist Maria Slayton (Delaney), to be an extremely dangerous psychopath. During a freak accident involving a poison gas cloud that is a really stupid pretext for a prison escape, Kuttner, along with his eyepatchioed right-hand man, uncannily enough named "Patch" (Tolkan), kidnap a bunch of people - one of which is Maria - and take an entire Western-style town hostage. Maria's husband, Isaac "Ike" Slayton (Davis), who is a Vietnam vet and also a town sheriff, teams up with his buddy Billy (Foree) to take down the baddies. But the National Guard is called in, and their leader is the hard-headed Lt. Col. Johnson (Vincent), who doesn't approve of Ike and Billy's methods. Who will prevail: Johnson, the local cops (headed up by Yaphet Kotto who is insultingly only credited as "Police Lieutenant"), or the bad guys? In 1981, The Rolling Stones released their song, "Hangfire". Most people would agree that by that point in their career, they were past their prime. So it seems fitting that this movie under review today would have the same moniker as a less-than-fresh source. Hangfire - the movie - is a shameful waste of an incredible, once-in-a-lifetime cast. You might think, looking at the cast list, that you can't lose. Unfortunately, we learned the hard way that you definitely can. We've been burned before by movies with awesome casts that turned out to be not so awesome. The least punishing example being Lone Tiger (1999), the most punishing being Detour (1998). It's truly a case of "too many cooks spoiling the broth". Don't be fooled by the stellar cast. It only makes you wonder: "Why would they all agree to this?" The talent of pretty much everyone in the cast is completely wasted in this cliché-ridden (in a bad way), lackluster, unfun, overly-serious slog. George Kennedy has a throwaway role as a prison warden. Nothing is done with it. Same with Kotto as the cop. Kim Delaney says almost no dialogue in the movie. JMV inexplicably smokes a pipe, which, sadly enough was a movie highlight. You usually don't see the gruff, beret-ed, uniformed commander lighting up his meerschaum. And here's the ultimate waste: Lou Ferrigno and Lyle Alzado as prison buddies Smitty and Albert (respectively). They almost could have carried an entire movie on their own, but their scenes together are pointless and incredibly dumb. Along with JMV's pipe, Alzado's mullet is the only other bright spot in this otherwise lifeless movie.

    The problem is, this movie is not well-written, and thanks to an almost total lack of character development, you really don't care about what happens. Any one or two of the characters should have had time spent by the filmmakers on fleshing them out. But Maris splits the difference and spends no time on any. That's the danger of a super-cast. Hangfire is so paint-by-numbers, and so painful to sit through, we coined a new term, "pain-by-numbers". Did we mention the similarities to the also-awful Fear (1988), the dank, dark lighting, and the annoying musical stings? A few humorous crossbow shots and Brad Davis prancing around in zebra makeup (presumably to hide from the bad guys?) isn't enough to save this dud.

    But what's really insulting to the audience are the unspeakably horrendous gun muzzle flashes. Here's where it gets to "Sci-Fi channel original movie" territory, with crudely-superimposed "flashes" that aren't even laughably bad, they're just bad. Muzzle flashes are one of the joys of action movies, and Maris duly crosses that off his "I made this suck" checklist. Perhaps fortunately, it's not like these crimes against muzzle flashes ruin an otherwise good movie. In this case there's nothing to ruin. So structurally it's no harm no foul. Visually it's just foul. This is the fourth Peter Maris movie we've seen to date (though we're not planning on seeing any more) - the others being Terror Squad (1988) - which featured fan favorite Chuck Connors - Ministry Of Vengeance (1989), and Diplomatic Immunity (1991). Let's put it this way: we'd trade this whole cast for one Chuck Connors.

    The excellent cast is just a distraction - even a misdirection in true grifter style - to the fact that Hangfire is a movie you must avoid.

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  • Warning: Spoilers
    The movie starts out with a wedding between a newly appointed Sheriff Ike Slayton (Davis) and Maria Montoya (Delaney) in a small town out in the desert. In the meantime at a local prison we witness a convict Kuttner (De Broux) stab a guy to death in jail, this tells us he means business. His friend Patch (Tolkan) watches, what an original name guess what he's missing? So Kuttner as it so happens is up for parole and Maria is the psychologist who says he's too dangerous to get out. The board denies him, but some kind of ruse happens on the road nearby which causes the evacuation of the jail. The Warden (Kennedy) says they have to be evacuated, not surprisingly it goes wrong and the criminals take a prison bus and Maria as hostages. Kuttner takes Patche's advice and they go to the small town taking the entire population hostage and grab some guns. Two convicts in particular to look for, Smitty (Ferrigno) and Albert (Alzado) who go to one of the houses to see what they can find. They break into Ike's place and soon get tied up bye Ike and his Vietnam buddy, Billy (Foree). I actually doubt the good guys would have beaten these two to be honest. The police arrive lead by a Lt. (Kotto), but soon retreat when Kuttner murders one of the hostages and is about to blow away Maria. Oh no! Then a very silly Colonel Johnson (Vincent) arrives on the seen and wants action. Bad idea, the convicts armed with shotguns drive back the National Guard with fully automatic M-16s…yea OK. In the fray Ike and Billy escape, but Kuttner saw him and knows from another convict that he's Maria's man. The stupid movie goes on, they move the hostages to a small factory and eventually Ike and Billy fight their way through his men to rescue the hostages. At one point Ike is armed with a crossbow against automatic weapons, yea OK. In a laughable scene the army of 91' uses a tank that is so outdated it was pathetic and laughable. I didn't know the national guard was so under funded. Kuttner attempts to escape in a helicopter, but falls out when Maria and Ike knock him off. The end.

    This is a terrible action film from start to finish. There are a lot of things that make it bad, but let's start out with the acting. This film actually has a lot of big stars and ones that everyone knows, yet the acting is very poor. What are George Kennedy and Yaphet Kotto doing in this nonsense? Thank god they got paid because they should be embarrassed by this film. Kim Delaney is easy on the eyes, but she barley even talks most of the film, with most of her lines coming near the end. By far the thing to look for in the film for bodybuilding and football fans is Ferrigno and Alzado as two big convicts. They are more convincing then most of the cast. Maybe the biggest disappointment was Jan-Michael Vincent, who I grew up on in Airwolf. He was terrible in this. He trys to act as a hard ass colonel, but it just fails and he ends up looking stupid. The scrip of course doesn't help, how's and guy suppose to act if they gave him lines that make him sound like a fool? The col. was a total joke, how about that pipe? I guess it has enough action in the film, but it looks poor. You can literally see a guy get launched off something when a grenade goes off. Also the military looks so poor in this. I realize it's a cheap film, but there is no way the US military would be using a tank that has to be at least 30 years old at this point in time. And I swear it looked like the m-16s weren't even firing, but more like a "special effect" was put on the muzzle….very poor looking. And even the soldiers they send in unarmored, would still have taken them down. The convicts were only armed with shotguns, while the military had fully automatic weapons. Of course the military decides to use no tactics and get owned. Did I mention stupid film? Overall a bad film up and down, but I actually sat through it despite Kim Delaney not getting nude. 2 out of 10 stars….you've been warned.
  • "HANGFIRE" is a truly awful film. Only some nice crashes and a valiant performance by Jan Michael Vincent save this film from Grade Z kitsch. The direction is shoddy, the dialogue is a collection of cliches and much of the acting is amateurish. At times I found myself thinking this was a high school film class production. I also found myself muting the sound and making up more original dialogue to entertain myself. The only reason I watched the video to the end was to see if the quality improves. It doesn't. The only thing I have to recommend this film is the performance of Jan Michael Vincent. His character is a regular army stereotype: brushcut, dark sunglasses, pipe smoking, "will not negotiate" carbon cut out. Vincent actually rises above the formula as a rose in the stinkweed patch.