The Crime Killer (1985)

The Crime Killer (1985)- * * *

Directed by: George Pan-Andreas

Starring: George Pan-Andreas, Carol Dingman and Jack Bliesener

“Is that all you care about? Justice and ouzo?”- Shannon

Zeus (Pan Andreas) is an LAPD (?) cop who shoots first and lets his thick Greek accent do the talking. After a shootout with some baddies where his partner dies (though not before warning Zeus first to “not get soft”), Zeus has to turn in his badge and gun. While his family is concerned about him, especially his wife Shannon (Carol Dingman), the CIA picks up the slack and recruits – or, if we may paraphrase Steele Justice – unleashes Zeus on the unsuspecting bad guy population. After some unnecessary boot camp training, Zeus is finally ready to rid the streets of crime – by killing it, of course – and living up to the President of the United States’s (Jack Bliesener) (yes, the President himself makes a personal appearance because he’s so impressed by Zeus's) promise to rid the streets of crime. Opa!

We know what you’re thinking: “I love the Dirty Harry movies, but the only flaw is that Clint Eastwood isn’t Greek enough.” Well, problem solved, my friend. Problem solved. Our latest hero, the great George Pan Andreas, is Dirty Hercules as he sends the baddies to hades.

The video store era was fantastic for many reasons, but one particularly stands out here: how one man (or, in the case of Renee Harmon, a woman) can achieve their dream of making a movie and getting it onto video store shelves, regardless of their level of English proficiency. Sometimes, one gem is created, like Pan Andreas did here, or Jorgo Ognenovski did much later, and sometimes a wildly successful career is forged, as in the case of Arnold Schwarzenegger. Our favorite thing that happens in some of these movies – or, should we say, doesn’t happen – is when other characters don’t acknowledge their thick accent in any way. Here, though, an angry CIA guy admonishes Zeus, “You and your accent will never change!” So, they were aware of it, but they forged ahead anyway. And the results are indeed something special. 

While it doesn’t quite reach the heights of classics like Samurai Cop (1991) or Miami Connection (1987), it comes very, very close. It has that off-kilter, funny, “what were they thinking?” vibe which we all love and enjoy. It’s also very similar to Revolt (1986). Vinegar Syndrome, Drafthouse, or Arrow should do a Blu-Ray of this movie. Then its charms will come more into the light, as they should, not languishing on a New World VHS, as we were able to see it.

While the movie, presumably, is supposed to be a gritty, street-level exploration of the nature of crime and its titular killer, the first thing the audience sees when it pops in the VHS is some bizarre imagery, including – and we kid you not – an ancient Greek statue shooting laser beams out of its eyes. And that’s during the opening credits. After that, we were truly prepared for anything. Then there were some silly fights, some sillier shootouts, some hilarious dialogue scenes, and it all culminates in the classic Final Warehouse Fight. Which is also really silly. Well, there’s one more scene after that, but we won’t spoil the magic. 

In that aforementioned credits sequence, under the name George Michaelides, it states, and we quote, “We thank you, we love you, God bless your soul”. We can’t say we’ve seen that before, but there are a lot of creative editing decisions in the movie. And guess who the editor is? We’ll give you two hints. He’s a modern-day Greek God, and his initials are GPA.

Of course, Zeus has the time-honored WYC (White Yelling Chief), and some of their exchanges are gold, but in this case it might be more accurate to call him a WYCWBFHWLELRT, which of course stands for “White Yelling Chief With Bizarre Facial Hair Who Looks Exactly Like Rip Taylor”. Just why, amongst all the potential Chiefs Pan Andreas could have chosen, he went with Morrell, remains unclear. Maybe Rip Taylor was busy filming Virtual Combat (1995) ten years in the future. Who knows? But thank goodness he did.

A movie highlight occurs when, going undercover to the lair of the baddies, Zeus goes all-out with his adeptness as a master of disguise. He assumes a new identity as a Mexican gardener at the baddie’s compound. By that we mean he dons a sombrero and speaks in a quasi-offensive “Mexican” accent. The sight (and sound) of Pan Andreas doing this… well, not to put too fine a point on it, but he should probably work on his American accent before he attempts Mexican – and it’s absolutely hilarious.

There are many other moments to treasure during the course of The Crime Killer, but that truly was, and is, a standout. And it’s all set to an alternating disco/sax/synth score. There’s even an end credits song which we think is called “Zeus – The Man”, but we couldn’t find an exact title, sung by Mel Carter and Sylvia Sahcmwell. They were clearly going for a Shaft vibe, with the only difference being that there are some lyrical mentions to Zeus’s love for ouzo. You have to love it.

The Crime Killer is a wacky winner just waiting to be rediscovered. It was right up our alley.

Comeuppance Review by: Ty and Brett 

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