Sony // 1993 // 97 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // December 3rd, 2004
They stole one of his kidneys.
Now they've come for the other one.
Charlie Pope (Miguel Ferrer, TV's Stephen King's The Stand) is a Hollywood screenwriter who is being drained dry by an overbearing, obnoxious producer (Harvey Fierstein, Independence Day) who sends him to Mexico to finish his latest script. It's in the dirty parts of the country that Charlie starts snooping around a child molestation case that eventually ends up with Charlie on an operating table with one of his kidneys missing. Who is behind it? Why are they stealing healthy human organs...especially Charlie's? With the help of a beautiful stranger (Leilani Sarelle , Basic Instinct), Charlie is on the run from a group of wacky surgeons who are coming back for Charlie's last good kidney!
The Harvest wants to be all things to all moviegoers: a horror film, a film noir, a thriller, an action movie, a drama, and even a bit of a comedy. What it ends up as is a mess: The Harvest is sewing a lot of ideas that are either half-baked or only partially realized. And poor Miguel Ferrer -- a fine actor in his own right -- is stuck in the middle of this muddled movie.
Written and directed without much style by David Marconi (who also penned the Will Smith thriller Enemy of the State), The Harvest opens up promisingly with an intriguing idea: what if you went to Mexico and someone really did steal one of your kidneys? This urban legend (often slightly varied with the victim waking up in a bathtub filled with ice) is creepy and could have made for a riveting action-thriller. The Harvest is not that movie.
Aside of having a hard time hearing some of the dialogue (one scene included bombastic music that drowned out what anyone was saying), the movie moved back and forth without much consistency -- maybe I missed something, but I never did understand why Charlie didn't just leave Mexico and went home. He sticks around the find out what happened to his kidney -- if it was me, I'd be rather thankful I still had one good kidney left and get the hell out of Dodge. Instead we're treated to Ferrer's character meeting different people (a sexy woman, a shady looking bar patron, a slimy cop, et cetera) who may or may not be in on the theft of one of his vital organs.
Miguel Ferrer is mildly effective as Charlie, a man who hates his job as a screenwriter and hates the fact that his kidney has been stolen (then again, who wouldn't?). Ferrer is able to get a few laughs from some of his asides, as when one helpful detective asks, "Is anything else missing? Something we can trace?" and Charlie dryly responds, "No, just my watch, and my ring. And my kidney." Actress Leilani Sarelle is sultry and sexy (and little else) as Charlie's love interest, while Henry Silva (Amazon Women on the Moon) is effectively slimy as a local law enforcer who is more reptilian than the lizards traversing the Mexican terrain. And don't even get me started on a half-naked Tim Thomerson (Near Dark, Trancers) as a boozy, womanizing apartment landlord who spends most of his time in a speed-o bathing suit.
Unfortunately, none of the characters have much depth except poor Charlie, thanks to Ferrer's delivery. The Harvest felt as if it was neither here nor there. I didn't hate it, but I didn't really enjoy it. I can respect it for the themes and ideas it presents, but like a child with a heavy learning disability, it had a hard time following through.
The Harvest is presented in 1.33:1 full frame. I'm sure fans of this film will be disappointed that Columbia has chose not to present this film in its original aspect ratio. What fans do get is a mediocre, cropped transfer with only so-so colors and black levels. As expected with a pan and scan presentation, this picture looks only okay, and little else.
The soundtrack is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround in English. Much like the video presentation, this sound mix is about as exciting as sliced Wonder bread. The bulk of the mix is front heavy with an obvious lack of dynamic range. No alternate subtitles or soundtracks are available on this disc.
The only extra features included on The Harvest are some previews for other Columbia thriller/horror films.
Review content copyright © 2004 Patrick Naugle; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
Running Time: 97 Minutes
Release Year: 1993
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Bonus Previews