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Case Number 08909

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Texas Lightning

Media Blasters // 1981 // 91 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // March 24th, 2006

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All Rise...

Texas Lightning sounds like an infectious STD, and Judge David Johnson thinks that is quite appropriate.

The Charge


Opening Statement

Maureen McCormick (The Brady Bunch) dealt her film career a fatal blow when she agreed to headline this horrendous "comedy" that features as its plot centerpiece, a brutal rape. Comic gold, that.

Facts of the Case

Poor Buddy Owen (Channing Mitchell). He's a shy, thoughtful, sensitive young man awkward around girls and perfectly content hanging around indoors, reading or napping. Unfortunately, his father Karl (Cameron Mitchell) is a hard-core macho jackass, and feels that his son is a blight unless he gets outside and starts shooting living things with guns while under the influence.

To turn Buddy into a man, Karl arranges a hunting trip with two of his white trash pals. The four men pile into a pickup truck and head out, looking to spray the nearest desert with enough lead to eliminate all living creatures within a 20-yard radius. Along the way, Karl and his friends give Buddy nothing but crap, relentlessly mocking his quiet demeanor and unfamiliarity with a firearm. Buddy sucks it up, but the barbs sting.

Along the way, the guys stop at a bar for a night of drunken carousing and ogling large-breasted country bumpkins engaged in a wet t-shirt contest. While the friends get their booze on, Buddy is drawn to the attractive waitress, a girl named Fay (McCormick). Fay takes a liking to Buddy and—much to the shock of Karl and his now-inebriated hunting hombres—accompanies the young man to his hotel, where a night of passion awaits.

But their happiness is not to be, when Buddy's companions arrive, plastered and horny and force themselves on Fay, while Buddy, gutless dink that he is, watches helplessly. The next morning finds the hunting party together, shaking off the effects of a hang-over. But what no one expects is how fast Buddy has grown up—and that it's not smart to give a loaded gun to man whose girlfriend you just raped.

The Evidence

According to the disc synopsis, Texas Lightning was originally supposed to be a gritty coming-of-age-tale, but "the demands of the business" forced a re-shoot and the film became more of a comedy. I'm not sure what that cryptic explanation means, but whoever's making these demands needs to be booted into the next space capsule destined for Saturn. Texas Lightning is miserable crap, a batch of festering nonsense that holds value only for those desperate to see Maureen McCormick in an awkward love scene (no, there is no explicit Brady nudity, you pervert).

Indeed, Ms. McCormick's participation in this infected pustule of a film appears to be the sole reason for its appearance in the digital format. Her face is featured prominently on the cover and her screen grabs splatter the back of the disc. While I admit there is a certain surreal thrill seeing the girl who was once held up as the pinnacle of innocent hotness parading around a bar in a cleavage-revealing denim top, puffing on a cigarette, and talking dirty to drunken hillbillies, this is not nearly enough to validate this movie's existence.

The film is essentially divided into four overlong set-pieces that, when added together, equal less than bubkes. First, we have the lengthy introduction to our male characters, comprised of lots of sulking by Buddy and lots of incoherent drawling by his hunting pals. Only when these guys pull into the bar does the movie get faintly tolerable. This bar sequence is easily the longest bit of the film—and the most pointless. The wet t-shirt contest is just an excuse to display giant '80s breasts, and is intercut with a meaningless bar-fight. Normally, the words "giant '80s breasts" and "meaningless bar-fight" spell cinematic gold, but here, the scene is just another example of complete, narrative disjointedness.

Part three brings us to Buddy's motel room, where he and Fay take a slow-motion roll in the hay, while the guys sober up at Denny's (shown to us quite creatively with a dark exterior of the restaurant and some bad dialogue laid over). The titillation is short-lived when the idiots show up and the rape ensues. I don't know what's more disturbing: seeing Marcia Brady having her breasts fondled in a sleazy motel bed or witnessing her sexually assaulted by blubbery rednecks. Either way, a comedy this does not make. Perhaps most offensive is Fay's almost casual dismissal of the rape, as the most she musters is a glare at Buddy. Where are the cops?!?

Anyway, the film mercifully winds down when Buddy and the guys head to the desert to hunt. Buddy's pissed now, and we're all hoping he unleashes some much-deserved retribution on his despicable mates, but, no, we're jilted out of sweet vengeance. Instead, Buddy chases off the guys by shooting at their feet. I think we're supposed to find this funny, seeing these guys run away while dust is kicked up behind them, but at this point of the movie I merely wanted as many characters to die as possible. This flick was exploitation, pure and simple, so don't start moralizing now. Buddy: open fire damn it!

Uggh. I've written enough about this waste. There is nothing worthwhile at play here—unless you've got a hankering for former child stars making sweet '80s love. Avoid Texas Lightning like the bird flu.

The video quality is sub-par, grainy as all get-out, and besieged by boring, washed-out colors. The only positive that can be addressed to the hollow mono audio mix is that you won't be subjected to the awful score in surround sound.

Closing Statement

A pointless, pointless movie. I've had blisters with more interesting plot development than this fetid pile.

The Verdict

Please, don't mess with Texas.

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Scales of Justice

Video: 65
Audio: 65
Extras: 0
Acting: 50
Story: 40
Judgment: 45

Perp Profile

Studio: Media Blasters
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)
• None
Running Time: 91 Minutes
Release Year: 1981
MPAA Rating: Rated R
• Bad
• Comedy
• Drama

Distinguishing Marks

• None


• IMDb

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