Wednesday, February 5, 2014

This Bud's for You: DETECTIVE EXTRALARGE: MIAMI KILLER (1991)

After being assured by the title song that "he's hot!" and has "technique!", we find Jack "Extralarge" Costello chasing a hysterical car thief through a parking garage... dressed as a clown. This perp really doesn't want to be caught and maybe if he stopped squealing for two seconds, he wouldn't be. Whether it's because of the fact that he doesn't want to do jail-time, or that he doesn't want to be nailed by a 6'4" 380 lb guy in a clown suit, is not made clear. Maybe he saw some of Bud Spencer's movies and doesn't want that mighty fist to come down on his fragile noggin. When the perp declares that he is "sick" because he has a whole mess of phobias, Costello quips "Shuddup, or I'll give you punch-aphobia too." Yep, "technique".

Miami cop Andy Blake (Christopher Atkins) is on a routine patrol when he accidentally hits a homeless guy with his squad car leading him to a trashed house with the bloody corpse of a young girl. As if that wasn't bad enough, (presumably) the killer has written "stop me" in blood on the wall. This is all too much for Officer Blake and he starts to lose it after unloading his sidearm on a black car that is speeding from the scene. Fortunately for him, ex-cop and super-slueth Costello shows up after the entire police force has cordoned off the area. Says the police chief "the scene is not complete unless Extralarge is on the job". Damn right. Only Costello can solve the case because apparently in these simple times, this sort of thing is unheard of. How do I know? Because the police files on the case are marked "Miami Killer" as if there were only one.

This must have been a late edition. Very late.

Blake is not taking his discovery well, not so much because he is a sensitive man in policeman's uniform, but because he too has lost a child to the Miami Killer. So consumed with his grief (apparently the Miami police don't allow any bereavement leave) is Blake, that he carries around his daughter's ballet slipper and occasionally pulls it out to rub it against his face. Surprisingly, nobody seems to think this is in any way creepy as all hell. Additionally Blake runs amok pulling his gun on random people he suspects might be the killer. Fortunately Costello just happens to appear out of thin air, like a genie from a bottle, to smooth out the misunderstanding.

Costello and Dumas ("Dooh-Dooh-Doohmaas") investigate the multitude of red herrings in a Miami that seems to be some sort of graffiti-covered, "Lord of the Flies" environment where children swarm over every patch of asphalt without any parental supervision! No wonder all these kids are being picked off. Could the killer be the old man who likes to offer little girls candy in the park? Maybe the creepy Catholic priest who keeps eyeing the children (yeah, so many jokes, all too easy)? How about the shifty-eyed school teacher who knows all of the kids shortcuts through the strawberry patch. Sort of a strawberry shortcut (my apologies to Mr. Freberg).

At one point Dumas interrogates their best witness: a six year old girl named Elsie. Elsie is a fountain of information in spite of the fact that Dumas has clearly as much talent in playing "good cop" as he is drawing cartoons. Trying to sweet-talk the witness, Dumas says "you dance so good, you could be the next Shirley Temple." Elsie giggles because a) that was seriously creepy and b) because she's six and has no freakin' idea who the hell Shirley Temple is!


In addition to Blake continuing to lose it in rather spectacular fashion, the father of the dead girl that Blake found turns out to be a drunken wife-beater who thinks he can stick Costello with his blade for being nosey. Big mistake. Come to think of it, it seems like the only person with his feet firmly on the ground is Detective Extralarge. Or at least you would think that, wouldn't you? Costello casually spends his leisure time blowing his sax at his favorite club, The Blue Monkey. I mean, the guy has killed almost a dozen girls already, there's no reason to spend every waking minute trying to solve the case. Just as an aside, I like to think that the owner of club is a big fan of hospital horror and giant bug movies.

Much like Scotland Yard in the Sherlock Holmes stories, the cops are just begging for our detective to solve the case. Not so much in word, but in deed. When bondoed bullet holes have been discovered on the priests black car, the police don't want to even bring him for questioning! The chief waxes philosophical, "Miami is full of cars full of holes, especially bullet holes." I'm pretty sure the only time that was said in real life was over a bong hit. Maybe this guy should run for mayor in Canada.

While surprisingly atmospheric in the final reel, it is also surprisingly free of action. No big car chases or punch-outs here. Castellari was definitely going more for a murder-thriller, coaxing a most entertainingly sweaty, bulging-eyed performance that you could possibly ask for out of Atkins. Though it's not really apparent if we are supposed to feel that Officer Blake is just overly concerned or is a possible suspect. Also, Spencer takes more of a back seat in this one, which kind of makes it a bit weak as a Bud Spencer vehicle. Even so, Castellari is almost incapable of turning in a boring outing on film or TV and even without the expected action fodder, it still keeps your attention with some well executed camera work and a plot that zips along at a pace faster than Spencer's stunt double can fall off of a truck.

And why do black people get pissed off at white filmmakers?

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