Watching movies late at night can be a completely different experience from watching them early on. When I was growing up, I found that the best movies were on late at night anyway. Well, at least “best” in my mind. No television station would ever dream of running their hacked-to-pieces print of BLACK SUNDAY (1960) during any hours when respectable individuals might flip past it and write letters of protest to the station. It seems more appropriate anyway. At night when your mind is more relaxed and ready to accept the unfathomable weirdness of your own mental cinema in sleep, movies about witches, giant mutations and even military investigations seem much more entertaining. Wait, military investigations? Yes, you heard me. Nick Millard’s inscrutable logic, incomprehensible plots and editing that appears to have been done via a rusty chipper-shredder, work much better in the wee hours of the morning. Trust me.
Opening with the line “Morgan has just come on duty” and the shotgunning of a schmoe in what appears to be a park-ranger uniform on a palm-tree filled street, Millard kicks off a plot of international terrorism, as only he can do. Morgan, as it turns out, was an American Army Corporal in Germany (uhhh, that sure looked like San Francisco!), and was the first victim in a strike against American military supplying arms to South American dictators. As we learn, the terrorist “organization” calling themselves Guerra del Pueblo, singled out Cpl Morgan as he was the son of a Congressman back in the states. So basically Millard wanted to make a movie about the, then, hot button issue of South American terrorism, but found himself in Germany, thus the scenario of the Congressman’s son. I am in awe.
As it turns out Guerra del Pueblo is Professor Karl (Millard himself), who teaches classes on foreign economics at a Berlin university. In his off time, he and his angry girlfriend plan on culminating their attack on America by assassinating the president who is visiting Berlin at the end of the week, and presumably will not identify himself as a German pastry. Actually, there are plenty of fumbling attempts to draw a parallel to that famous “Berliner” of the ‘60s, but Millard’s shotgun approach to scriptwriting ensures that they are never focused into a tangible plotline. Nor are the multitude of oddities that spring up around every corner. After Captain Luke is introduced, in his next scene he is suddenly wearing a black sling on his left arm. To explain this, local reporter Andrea Hueller (Irmgard Millard in another standout performance), who is supposed to be interviewing him about the killing, asks him how he lost the use of his left arm. Luke replies that it was in Seol and there was a large shipment of heroin on it's way to the United States. Just as it seems like we are going to get some deep back story, Hueller switches gears into a new line of questioning. They also quickly throw out the information that Luke "had no part" in Vietnam. Wait, what the hell is that supposed to mean?
I actually enjoy Millard’s “action” films more than his horror films. Everybody does no-budget slasher flicks, particularly after the SOV era became a reality. There’s a landfill’s worth of ineptly made, no-budget, back yard serial killer flicks, but not a lot of these budding auteurs try to make action thrillers. Action thrillers with a grand scope and a budget slightly smaller than their last tax rebate after restocking the liquor cabinet. Nick is that visionary.
|Nick Millard hates chins|