(George Mihalka, 1981)
Here is a film that fights running battles with its script, and almost doesn't lose. The Maritime mining-town setting is a huge plus, vivid both underground and on the deceptively quaint street level, and Mihalka milks it for all it's worth. The large ensemble cast is individuated and energetic, overplaying in clunky good humour, and the poorly articulated love triangle is at least an anchor for the narrative. And the murderous set pieces are showily inventive, even after the obvious bowdlerizing has reduced them to ribbons. Still, the usual Freud-redux and sex-equals-death objections are the least of this narrative's worries. A stupider movie than this couldn't get away with the official-cover-up contrivances that facilitate the plot, and the mine rescue suffers a terminal case of 'wait here I'll be right back'. The director's hands aren't clean either: the choreography of the climactic boxcar battle is glaringly stilted, and check out the appearance of the second heart-shaped box at the police station for an example of a stock double-whammy setup sadly squandered. Neutral framing choices sometimes undermine the creepy atmospherics as well; but they don't negate them, and there are some nice bits here. I only wish they had edited out Cynthia Dale instead of the gore - her Kids From Fame routine as the giggly drag sticks out like an amputated thumb.