Judge Daryl Loomis would gladly cut off a hand to forget he ever saw this film.
These students are hooked on learning.
Going to college is very expensive these days. Kids have to find some way to make ends meet, whether that's getting a job or earning a scholarship. Pound of Flesh presents one idea on how to do both. It's a really bad idea, but it's also a really bad movie, so it all fits together pretty nicely. If you still believe Malcolm McDowell (Caligula) has any integrity as an actor, this movie should alleviate that for you.
Facts of the Case
Professor Noah Melville (McDowell) is one of the most well-liked people at his exclusive private college, and for good reason; he provides scholarships to hot young coeds in exchange for pimping them out to the elite of the town. He's been running this racket for many years and has earned the admiration, if not the respect, of everyone in the "club." But when one of his girls turns up dead after a date, the new detective in town (Angus Macfadyen, Braveheart), begins an investigation that threatens to tear the whole arrangement down, and Melville's career along with it.
As I sit here, burdened by student loan debt from my own exclusive private college experience, Pound of Flesh makes me wonder if I did enough during those days to secure extra funds. There must have been somebody, whether a teacher or an administrator, who would have taken a flyer on my more dubious talents and paid a little bit of my way through those four years, but I sat working in the mailroom, wasting my time running envelopes through a machine for seven bucks an hour. I have only myself to blame for that, but I also blame myself for requesting such a ridiculous and awful movie that rivals the worst of what I have reviewed for this site.
There are holes everywhere in the plot of Pound of Flesh, terrible performances all across the board, and a style that seems to strive for artsy while staying decidedly on the prurient side of the fence. This movie has everything that an awful movie can have. It's advertised as based on true events (one of the few real movie pet peeves I have), it has B-level actors masquerading as stars who phone in their performances seemingly from a bus station pay phone in Cheyenne, and it even features a drunk detective who gets down to business by dumping his booze in the trash (such a waste of good bourbon). Every moment of this film is unfortunate, from the bookish narration from McDowell to his conveniently literary name to a story that seems less concerned with coherence than with getting back to hot shots of coeds.
Director Tamar Simon Hoffs (The Allnighter, and mother of Bangles singer Susanna Hoffs, one of my biggest early crushes), to her credit, knows that those coeds are the only reason anybody is coming to see this pathetic film. Unfortunately, many of the scenes with these actresses are shot in a grainy documentary style inconsistent with the rest of the film. I have no idea why she would switch to this look mid-scene, but it's both jarring and totally unnecessary. Malcolm McDowell is as bad as he can be and veteran character actress Dean Wallace (Cujo) is totally worthless as the vindictive college dean. We also have a wasted Timothy Bottoms (The Paper Chase) playing the president of the college and Elizabeth Rodriguez (Miami Vice) as the conflicted police officer who takes a chance on Macfadyen's detective and convinces him that drinking his way through his job isn't the answer. What is the answer? You'll have to watch the movie to find out, but I guarantee that the result will be both less interesting and more ridiculous than you could imagine.
Pound of Flesh comes to Blu-ray from Odyssey Moving Pictures and it's about as successful a disc as it is a film. The image looks good for the most part, but it isn't the kind of hi-def image I expect on the format. The majority of the film has a fair amount of detail and solid colors, but the switches over to the grainier stuff, for whatever reason that was done, look fairly rough. We have two sound mixes to choose from. The surround mix is far more inconsistent than the stereo, but neither is particularly strong. The stereo isn't as impactful as the best moments of the surround, but the worst moments of the surround make the stereo the preferable mix. The surround sound should be better, but it goes toward far too many extremes, with booming sound in one moment and mouse-quiet dialog in the next. I'll go with consistency any time. For extras, we start with a making-of featurette. There's not much to tell, as the movie is a total failure, but if you want to see a few interviews extolling the fake virtues of the film, here you go. We also get a pointless series of outtakes, an interview with a smug Malcolm McDowell, and some trailers. The Blu-ray will not sway anybody on the negative value of this film.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
Pound of Flesh is virtually worthless, but I can't lie. If your primary concern for a movie is hot young women in various stages of undress, you get it in spades here and the film probably won't bother you very much. Still, if that is your primary concern, there are certainly better resources online to meet your needs, so this is still something you can skip.
There was a time when I could respect Malcolm McDowell. I love A Clockwork Orange and the trilogy he made with director Lindsay Anderson (If…, O Lucky Man, and Britannia Hospital) is excellent. Over the years, though, he has tended toward starring in movies where he can flounce around with little hotties and not have to try very hard. Pound of Flesh is the picture of that and, while I might envy the position he has arranged for himself, this is most definitely a film you can skip.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: E1 Entertainment
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