Terror In Beverly Hills (1989)- * * *
Directed by: John Myhers
Starring: Frank Stallone, Behrouz Vossoughi, Lysa Hevlov, William Smith, and Cameron Mitchell
“They brought terrorism to our streets…only one man can stop them!”
When an evil gang of middle-eastern terrorists led by the sinister Abdul (Vossoughi) comes to Beverly Hills, well, terror ensues. Their main target is Margaret (Heslov), daughter of The President (no actual name for The President is ever said) (Smith). They kidnap her while she’s shopping and spirit her away to “the old bean factory”. While LAPD Captain Stills (Cam) is crankily and dyspeptically working his way through the situation, it becomes evident to all concerned that only one man can rescue Margaret, take down the terrorists, and restore law and order to Beverly Hills: HACK STONE (Stallone). (Hack Stone is not an anagram for Frank Stallone; we checked). Will the fantastically-named Hack Stone, who is a former Special Forces soldier and now Karate instructor, be able to complete his mission? Or will terror reign at the old bean factory…er, I mean, BEVERLY HILLS? Find out today…
Here’s a movie that delivers what it promises – terrorists come to Beverly Hills. It also gets sillier and sillier as it goes along. It starts out fairly seriously, with comments about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the threat of terrorism in our time, which actually makes ‘Terror fairly topical even today. Well, about as much so as Terror Squad (1988), Hostage (1987), or Scorpion (1986). VERY quickly, however, we are launched headlong into a highly-entertaining morass of ridiculousness that we as viewers do not return from.
Thanks to its rock-bottom budget, we get some classic nonsensical dubbing/dialogue, wonderfully stupid chase/shooting scenes, and the whole outing has that vibe of absurdity that fans of fun movies will recognize immediately. It’s almost like a cousin of Provoked (1989), and there’s even a McKeiver Jones III-like character. And that’s the key to Terror in Beverly Hills – its characters. Even with all the preposterous goings-on, what stands out are the characters, no matter how small they are in the overall scheme of things.
Of course, we have the aforementioned Cam Mitchell as Stills, who puts in a performance that enlivens the proceedings. Then we have the great William Smith, perfectly cast as The President. Unfortunately, like most of the other characters, his voice was dubbed, so his trademark gravel is not heard. Naturally, there’s Hack Stone, AKA Frank Stallone, who ties it all together. The main difference between Stone and Stills is that Stone drinks regular Pepsi (with a very prominent place on his desk) but Stills prominently drinks Diet Pepsi. Have the Pepsi people ever seen this movie?
The smaller parts, the incidental roles, are what really make ‘Terror a gem. There’s Crystal, the 911 dispatcher who really cares about her job and has terrific typing skills, there’s Brian Leonard as Tony Motta, the enthusiastic and pushy TV news anchor, and there’s Captain Leonard (the McKeiver guy), who really shines as an LAPD detective. But the show is well and truly stolen by the charming interplay between Bruce and Gandhi, two locals.
All that isn’t surprising, as director Myhers was primarily known as an actor himself, but he did direct one movie per decade in the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s. Obviously this was his 80’s entry, released in the golden year of 1989. Myhers passed away shortly thereafter in 1992. Evidently the old bean factory that is so central to the story was a real place, as in the end credits, the California Bean Growers Association are thanked. You don’t see that every day.
In the end, Terror in Beverly Hills is a ton of silly and absurd fun, and despite its limited resources, it is vastly better than The Taking of Beverly Hills (1991). If you only see one movie where something bad happens to Beverly Hills, see this one.
Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty