As VJ vice mayor, I officially declare November 14 to be Robert Ginty Day (shoots flamethrower into the air). Today marks the action lead’s birthday and what better way to celebrate than with a new Ginty Gone Wild review. As evidenced with our WHITE FIRE review, we have a soft spot for the man who is probably best know to audiences as a flamethrower wielding Vietnam vigilante in THE EXTERMINATOR (1980). Like Bronson and Eastwood, Ginty had an everyman quality to him that worked in making him believable in crazed action scenarios. Unfortunately, it would work against him in the muscle-bound mid-to-late 1980s and early 90s action cinema and most of his work was relegated to direct-to-video stuff. But we still held love for the man who tragically passed away last year at the age of 60.
SCARAB opens with Dr. Wilfred Nanz (Rip Torn) performing a Dr. Frankenstein-esque resurrection on a scarab beetle. No joke, he has the little bug wired up in his lab and, after an accidental infusion of human blood, resurrects an ancient Egyptian deity. And we all know what happens after that right? Yes, Nanz decides to adopt the name Khepera and becomes a cult leader who lives in a cave. He promises his followers to return to the “dark ages” of mankind “before these imbeciles destroy it with an atom bomb.” Uh, what? You want to destroy mankind before mankind destroys mankind? Ooookay. We then meet freewheelin’ foreign news correspondent Jack Murphy (Ginty), who spends most of his time in Spain chasing the ladies rather than stories.
Murphy tries to convince his editor he is onto something (“if this isn’t Pulitzer time, I don’t know what is”), but we all know newspaper bosses hate stories involving beetles so he is on his own. He follows the nurse onto a train (by unsubtly jumping his motorcycle into the luggage car) and confronts her regarding this mystery. She reveals her name is Elena (Cristina Sanchez Pascual) and that Nanz/Khepera, the man crossed out in the photo, is her father. She knows of his evil plot to assassinate (“murder by remote control with the scarab as a transmitter”) and is heading home to whoop his ass. A quick stop off at home to see her mom Saturna ends with Murphy getting plastered (an Irish guy that drinks?) before the house is besieged with flaming arrows. The duo then head to Khepera’s cave, but they don’t know he is drawing Elena there to use her in an ancient ritual.
|If you laugh, move along|
Of course, I look at this peculiarity admirably while other might just be turned off by it. Jaffe does get some great use out of the Spanish locations and does some inventive work on the interior of Khepera’s cave (a blacked out stage with odd items hanging here and there). Torn actually gives his all to what many would consider an embarrassing role. Of course, his rubbing down tons of nubile hot chicks might have had something to do with his willingness. Or tons of booze. Ginty is equally good and believable, but it is funny to me that he is cast as a sex symbol. Seriously, when they introduce Ginty’s character, he is seduced by an ambassador’s wife in like 5 seconds. It says a lot about how strange this flick is when the oddest thing is the director having every lady who eyes Ginty thinking he is the hunkiest thing since Tom Selleck. Resurrected ancient Egyptian beetle gods? That I can believe. Robert Ginty as a hounded ladies man? C’mon, I can only suspend my disbelief so far!