Marked For Murder (1990)- * * 1\2
Directed by: Rick Sloane
Starring: Wings Hauser, Renee Estevez, Blake Bahner, James Mitchum, Ken Abraham, Ross Hagen, and Martin Sheen as Man In Park
When a TV news cameraman inadvertently films the murder of a police informant, everyone is after "The Tape". Because a fed, Winfield (Bahner), a TV news station owner, Emerson (Wings), and police higher-ups, including Rainier (Mitchum) all want the tape for various reasons, and no one can seem to get their hands on it, two employees of the aforementioned news station, Justine (Estevez) and Corey (Abraham), are framed for - and MARKED FOR - murder. So they are now on the run and trying to clear their good names. Things come to a head when Emerson tries to do a drug deal with Tyrell (Hagen), and then all hell breaks loose and the truth is finally revealed. Who will end up with the tape?
While director Rick Sloane's later effort Mind, Body & Soul (1992) - also starring Wings Hauser - is his most watchable effort that we've seen to date, it seems that he was still perfecting his formula with Marked For Murder. His prior films such as Hobgoblins (1988) and Blood Theatre (1984) can be quite painful to sit through at times, but 'Marked marks a marked improvement over those initial horror-esque outings.
However, the film lacks a certain dynamism. The pacing, let's just say, is pretty slack. Sometimes it's nonexistent. Mr. Pacing just kind of leaves the building right before the final showdown. That being said, It is kind of impressive that Sloane and the gang made a film about people looking for a VHS tape for 90 minutes.
The humor, such as it is, doesn't work, and there's a lot of facepalm-inducing dumb dialogue that's really dumb. Not to mention stupid. But it's all somewhat pleasant and rather harmless stuff. Many improvements could have been made in just about every department in order to make things better, but Marked For Murder is far from the worst thing we've ever seen.
It seems likely that Sloane just corralled a bunch of B-Movie names (and one or two A-Movie names) and just sort of hoped that by simply putting them in front of the camera, magic would happen. Yes, Wings Hauser unquestionably has "It" - that magnetic, indefinable screen presence that audiences like. But his appearance in the film is intermittent. He comes and goes like radio static. When he's around, things definitely improve.
Renee Estevez is cute and appealing as the female lead, and it's probably because of her that Martin Sheen makes a dialogue-less cameo as "Man in Park". Clearly a shining moment for his resume. Blake Bahner is involved in one of the silliest car chases/crashes we've seen in some time, but we're dealing with Marked For Murder here. Would we expect anything less? Also, there's a character in the movie called Spider. Bahner is most famous for playing Brad Spyder. Coincidence? Jim Mitchum has a glorified cameo, though he does get more dialogue and screen time than Martin Sheen this time around. Hagen doesn't show up until the end, but what Hagen you get is good Hagen.
During the extra-silly nightclub scene, Marky DeSade provides two songs, "T.V. On Trial" and "Young Girls". There are two musicians who called themselves Marky DeSade, one from the band Ded Engine and one from the punk band The Hypnotics. I'm not sure which one wrote these songs, but in any case they're not the type of songs anyone would dance to in a nightclub. But Marky did go on to work with Rick Sloane on some of his later films. Just one of the many mysteries behind Marked For Murder.
Marked For Murder would make an interesting double bill with Midnight Warrior (1989). Both are DTV films that deal with the TV news business in one form or other. Fans of any of the B-Movie favorites involved may want to check it out, but 'Marked goes from silly to stupid a bit too often for most people's taste, we think.
Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty
Also check out a write-up from our buddy, DTVC!