Overlooked Movies No.5
Original thrillers are not only hard to find – they usually flop at the box office. Recently ‘The Kovak Box’ was one such movie, in which the people surrounding SF writer Timothy Bottoms keep throwing themselves out of buildings. In this case two things undermined the movie – it was partly financed by the Majorca Tourist Board, so the hero was kept touring its admittedly spectacular sights, and it jumped the shark with its villain’s ludicrous motive, along with a climax that involved a hundred fat people in red jumpsuits jumping to their deaths in a cave. At least it was different.
David Marconi’s 1992 thriller ‘The Harvest’ is a forgotten film, which is a bit of a shame, because it was a smartly constructed thriller with an original plot based on an urban myth. A screenwriter is sent to Mexico to develop a story that can be used to wrap up a movie presently in production. Given the very short time allotment, he immerses himself in the seamier side of a Mexican beach resort, but soon finds himself out of his depth. After waking up with no memory of the night before and a row of stitches on his body, the local doctor confirms that he has had a kidney removed. He has been duped by an organ-harvesting ring.
So, with a beautiful woman he isn’t sure he can trust, he sets out to expose the ring…only to discover that he has a much bigger problem. Due to the rarity of his type of kidney it’s worth more than the usual ones the gang takes from drunk guys in bars, and they come after him for the other one. Miguel Ferrer (who usually plays a corporate sleaze) makes an unlikely hero, smart-mouthed, unlikeable, the archetypical Ugly American, but he wins us over as he tries to work out who to trust. It helps that everyone else is far more horrible than him.
From a Hitchcockian killing involving a bullet through a hot dog to a tense chase in a tunnel, this is a gripping little B movie that transcends its beginnings to earn itself a higher level of respect. Ferrer and his possibly duplicitous girlfriend were real-life partners and have on-screen sizzle – the only question is why he sticks around to solve the case when most of us would have just got the hell out of Dodge. I worked on the film and wrote the poster strapline at the time. Ahem:
‘Charlie’s living his book. The good parts. The bad parts. The body parts.’
I thank you.
Well, it is a B movie.