Murder Weapon (1989) Review by RevTerry

This weekend it is a cult film legend's birthday (5/27). Linnea Quigley is one of trash cinemas most celebrated actors. I have, more than once, been told by others with exquisite taste that her graveyard dance (as Trash) in The Return of the Living Dead (1985) was the initial spark that ignited a lifelong love of cult films and horror. Even after years of new horror media and a show using the title, she is still the first thing that comes to some minds when you say “Scream Queen”. This is with good reason-- she is the epitome of the b-movie star. What she brings to the screen cannot be explained away with a term like “good acting”, but instead she possesses an unfaltering soul that matches and enhances all the straight to video garbage it touches. Given even the silliest of roles, she will take it to its natural extreme and, most of the time, be the most memorable part of a production.  Her lasting ability to make even the worst films more enjoyable with her presence would give the often exemplified Bruce Campbell a run for his money, even without his connections. Quigley is one of a small group of ladies that gave shape to the idea of a Scream Queen and cemented it as a buzzword, even with mainstream audiences. She is the living spirit of trash, responsible for guiding a lot of us from the hunt for skin in late night cinema in our younger years to our ingrained, inexplicable quest for other hidden treasures in low budget horror as adults. Despite being tragically typecast by the roles we all love, she has always seemed to fully embrace her fan base of weirdos and approached each picture with energy. Return of the Living Dead will likely forever be her most popular appearance and it is without a doubt iconic, but personally, my favorite “Linnea Quigley Movie” would be Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama (1988). It's goofy as shit, but I don't think I will ever tire of the self-aware mash of horror tropes, bowling, and quirky practical effects. That film was directed by David DeCoteau, a frequent collaborator of Quigley. The two have made a grip of films together in a working relationship that has lasted over 30 years. Somewhere else, among the cult cinema duo’s pile of indiscernible b-classics and near softcore porn, sits  Murder Weapon (1989).
The movie spits out a few credits before jumping into a sequence of scenes involving Amy (Karen Russell)  finding-- then fucking some creeper sneaking in her backyard while she is sunbathing and Linnea Quigley in pigtails doing some carefree hopping down the street. Dawn (Linnea Quigley) finishes her stroll by catching Amy in the act, which must have had some kind of effect because soon Dawn is jumping into the shower with the man to show him a neat trick involving a reappearing knife.  After some more title credits, it is implied that the opening scene was a flashback and that Amy and Dawn are now locked in an insane asylum, under the care of Dr. Randolph (Lyle Waggoner) and Dr. Gram (Lenny Rose). One of the doctors elicits the story, as he attempts to treat Dawn of her kill-people-itis. The two discuss daddy issues for a while, and then Dawn says something about a party, blackmails him and escapes. Another jump and the two ladies are chillin by the pool with the psych ward safely in their past. Amy, it seems, has just been released. And to celebrate, Dawn has invited a mix of their ex-boyfriends for a shindig at the house. Oh yeah, and they are both the daughters of high ranking mob members, but that has little to do with anything. The Bros arrive, showers are had, and the party goes better than you would think. That is until someone starts killing off the ex-boyfriends in gruesome, almost impossible ways...
The story is a cheesy mess and, in all honesty, parts still left me with a few questions, even after multiple viewings. For example, among a few other things: Was there more moisture in the air in the 80s?, Is it normal for someone to offer to shave someone else's legs?, And why would you stay at a party that your crazy ex-girlfriend invited you to that ended up being comprised of only her ex-boyfriends? Queries regarding the 80s courting rituals aside, it's kind of the illegitimate offspring of one of Jim Wynorski’s Sorority House Massacre films and a Shannon Tweed movie. The usual slasher custom of isolating the victims (in this case the pack of bros) on one property almost gets closer to a rushed House on Haunted Hill deal, with the party goers all being ex-boyfriends attached by various rocky relationship connections.  The obviously rushed plot is laid out strangely enough, to make it feel like some kind surreal dream, which is fitting because (I think) at a point, there is a kind of Russian doll thing going on with the flashbacks. It comes out more like a late-night thriller, but it's evident that the sleazy fluff has been built around a satirical contrast of horror film cliches. There are a few twists in the plot, but it loses its slasher feel on impact, giving little reason to suspect anyone other than the obvious. The mafia father angle is awesomely random and only serves as tacked on info to the character's psychosis. It probably wasn't necessary to add that the psycho femme fatale’s abusive father was into organized crime, but fuck it, it's great.  Altogether the mix of goofy plot points and fan service-heavy storytelling makes a pretty fun watch that is too deliberately squalid to ever be boring.
The film spends most of its time poolside with bright and washed out tones. Chunks are relegated to a noir style interrogation room, with bright spotlights on close-up faces and an endless darkness as a backdrop. Scenes are kept mostly short, which makes it feel like it has a quicker pace. In reality a lot of the movie has gone on beyond the title screen, before anything more than some hilarious shallow conversations have happened. There is some really nice gore, including some chest cavity damage that could make Kevin Bacon have flashbacks. Of course, the film deploys a dose of nudity every so often--just in case it's losing you. A few of the sex scenes go into full late-night cable mode, likely to beef up the runtime.  The generic soundtrack comes up uniformly flat and lurks behind in most scenes, but there is some crusty avant-garde bass going on in some of the darker dream sequences and a few of those snazzy 80s style pop songs that probably only exist in films like this. DeCoteau is one of the masters of making bad movies well. Somehow he just hits that perfect mix of well-humored sleaze and borderline satirical cheese.
Everybody has poofy hair and seems to be having a blast making the film. Karen Russell, who is a legend herself, having held several memorable roles in other straight to video flicks, plays Amy. The role mostly amounts to laying around in little bits of clothing and some screaming, but she knocks it out of the park. Quigley’s role isn't exactly out of her norm for the era but has a few differentiating aspects. Ultimately, as I hope I made clear above, she could pretty much walk onto an episode of Scrubs, and I wouldn't turn it off. The man I will forever recognize as Wonder Woman's homie, ( General Steven Trevor) Lyle Waggoner, plays the psychiatrist in the flashbacks, which is cool. The killer Santa’s kid brother, Eric Freeman makes an appearance. Interestingly not only do the psychiatric office flashbacks feel akin to the wrap around scenes that hold together Silent Night, Deadly Night 2 (1987) in which he played that character, but also Linnea Quigley made an early, memorable appearance as a shirtless victim of the older Murder-Claus Brother in the first Silent Night, Deadly Night in 1984. Lenny Rose, another recurring Decoteau collaborator, plays Dr. Gram. Rose gives the film another link to classic Christmas-Horror film series having played a small role in Silent Night, Deadly Night 2 as well.
As the historical scrolls tell it, DeCoteau started a production company in the late 80s, Cinema Home Video, and was looking to fill his catalog quickly. Taking a page out of those exploitation film greats before him, he called up his most loyal of friends (who worked for cheap) to begin making movies that he could both produce and distribute independently. This, the first of these productions, was shot in Beverly Hills in six days, with Quigley acting as co-producer. Special effects work was done on the film by legend David P. Barton (Starship Troopers, Phantasm II and one of Mel Gibson’s boring exploitation films) who Quigley brought on board. The somewhat confusing opening sequence was added a little later when the original finished product came up short for a full-length feature. DeCoteau made the film partly as a send up to slasher flicks, hence the horror-film role reversal, and directed the film under one of his many aliases Ellen Cabot.
At one point, early in the film, Karen Russell’s character delivers a piece of dialog somewhere along the lines of “ it's Absolute trash,... but I love it” while defending her choice in poolside literature to Dawn. I think that could have probably saved me a few paragraphs actually, had I led with it. Is it hot garbage? Yes, it is. But have I also watched it more than five times on purpose? Also yes. It's got enough gore, nudity and silly hairdos to be worth the trip. Not to mention, it has The Living Spirit of Trash herself, Linnea Quigley, and really that would be enough. Thank you, Ms. Quigley, for everything you gave us and continue to give us. As kids, we may have shown up for the titties, but we kept returning for the sheer amount of entertainment value you bring to even the most terrible of productions. It is 2018, I can find boobs faster than I can find directions to a library, but here I am still watching 1989s Deadly Weapon like it's my only chance to see a nip.
1h 30min | 1989
 Director: David DeCoteau (as Ellen Cabot)
Writer: Ross A. Perron 

Help Linnea Save Her Home!!!
https://www.gofundme.com/help-linneatrash-save-her-home
The whole story is on the page… but I mean it's Linnea Quigley! Think of all she has given us!

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