Code Red // 1973 // 91 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge P.S. Colbert // August 8th, 2013
"Violent Theatrical Cut."
"There were two men who broke into the mental hospital: a bomber, and a rapist. The rapist came first, and he hid in the supply room. When the bomber came, to plant his bomb in the basement, he had to go through the supply room, and return the same way to get out. Now, this means the rapist got two good looks at the bomber. Now, to find a bomber without any identification in Los Angeles county, over four thousand square miles, with over seven million people is...is pretty hopeless. But, there was an eyewitness -- the rapist. The rapist can tell us what the bomber looked like."
That's Lieutenant Geronimo Minneli (Vince Edwards, Ben Casey), thinking aloud to himself, putting a case together, and incidentally, he's also helpfully catching up anyone who came into Police Connection eleven and a half minutes late.
There are many things you can accuse this movie of being, but confusing isn't one of them -- from beginning to end, you'll always know exactly what's going on -- Heck, before you've even got the DVD out of the box, the front cover hips you to the fact that Chuck Connors (The Rifleman) plays Vincent Dorn, the bomber, and Neville Brand (Laredo) plays George Fromley, the rapist. So you're already two steps ahead of Geronimo, who's got to be the fastest-thinking (if not psychic) sleuth in film history!
Credit writer-director Bert I. Gordon (Empire Of The Ants) for this. Gordon tends to get a bad rap from a lot of critics -- in fact, Mystery Science Theater 3000 has featured more of his films than any other director's. This might have something to do with the fact that he mostly made low-budget features about giant bugs, intent on wiping out civilization as we know it. On the other hand, I'm hard-pressed to find a more accommodating filmmaker. To wit:
You shell out for a ticket to see radioactive waste turn a man into a crazed Colossus, and you get what you've paid for -- forget endless exposition and character development -- in no time, you're watching a sixty foot, disfigured Mr. Clean (clad in only a diaper, no less) angrily shaking the human contents of a high school bus out over the streets of the city.
You say you're intrigued by the idea of atomically engineered giant grasshoppers going on a feeding frenzy? Well, just look at 'em, effortlessly scaling those skyscrapers! And honestly, what else can you call the writer and director of a movie called How To Succeed With Sex if not helpful?
Let's cut through the ol' crap cake, shall we? You weren't about to toss a coin because you couldn't decide between Police Connection and Citizen Kane. You're looking for gratuitous (female) full-frontal nudity, violence, and a chance to see how bad things got for three erstwhile television superstars a decade past their primes, and brother, you'll find everything you're looking for, in spades! To explain any more of "the plot" is to continue quoting directly from the script, and as a jurist, I've got to consider the question of copyright infringement, don't I?
Granted, the original budget probably didn't allow for maximum lighting equipment, so I'd imagine that some of the "night" scenes were always dark -- in some cases, nearly indecipherable -- but otherwise, Code Red (DVD Verdict Golden Gavel Award winner, 2010) has done a fine job with this anamorphic widescreen presentation, and I'm guessing the thoroughly adequate mono soundtrack is as good as it gets.
Speaking of Golden Gavel awards: consideration (as a dark horse candidate) must be given to this set's extras. First, there is "Play the Rockin' Bomber Music," which, when selected, shows you the entire film again, minus every bit of audio but the background music -- in the scenes that feature background music. That strip club scene, for example...
There is also an option to select "Explosive Red Code Trailers," a handful of previews for God-awful looking films in God-awful looking condition. There is also the obligatory "Family Honor" trailer (apparently standard issue for all Code Red product) which isn't optional -- it plays immediately after you select the feature. Bear in mind that I was only given a pre-release screener copy to review, so other bonus features may accompany commercial copies.
A rose by any other name: Police Connection originally played theatrically under the title "The Mad Bomber," and then was re-released as "Geronimo." Both titles were used for subsequent VHS and DVD reissues, all of which were reportedly very poor transfers. Code Red emphasizes,"this legendary exploitation film is finally presented with all its R-Rated violence and nudity intact for the first time on DVD."
Anything else would be a crime.
Guilty pleasure. All charges are hereby dropped.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Code Red
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
Running Time: 91 Minutes
Release Year: 1973
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Isolated Score