Thursday, December 27, 2012

Terminal Choice

(Sheldon Larry, 1984)
Here the Magder clan bequeath us a movie about a computer-controlled hospital run amok that doesn't even set up its own premise - why bother when "Coma" did the job already? This frees them up to pack the first act with so much sexual innuendo and 'witty banter' that you nearly have time to forget what the movie's actually about. Admittedly this material also helps them establish an agreeably goofy tone, but soon enough things degenerate into disagreeable nonsense, cramming in mad scientists, illegal betting pools, accidental vivisection rescue ops, and so on. The actors are game enough - and the dated-for-1984 'high tech' trappings silly enough - that it could have worked as camp. Unfortunately, the TV-style slickness is a drag, the pacing is turgid, and the character development is a mess. Key supporting characters disappear for an hour at a time, Don Francks plays a jogger who's really an attorney who's really an investigative journalist, and Joe Spano's alcoholism and romantic subplots just evaporate into the underwhelming crescendo of Commodore 64 carnage.