Thursday, 17 December 2015

The Courier of Death (1984)

The history of cinema is filled with people who did not make the big time, but along the way still managed to make at least one film. As that is one more film than I have ever made, I usually have a certain amount of admiration for them, especially if the film is as deliriously entertaining as Courier of Death. Whatever else you might call this film, it is certainly not boring.

JD Blackman is a courier, and his latest job involves a straightforward delivery of a briefcase containing millions of dollars in bonds, which is securely attached to the arm of his partner. However, things quickly go wrong leaving his partner dead and the bonds stolen, quickly followed by the kidnap and murder of his wife. Shortly after all of this an old army buddy, now high up in the government, contacts him with two pieces of news; firstly, the people behind the murder and theft are part of an underground fascist network; secondly, the government are giving Blackman tacit permission to hunt down and kill those same people.

While at no point could you claim this is a well-made movie it is not devoid of positive elements. While the dialogue lacks the deranged poetry of Ed Wood of Plan 9 from Outer Space and Bride of the Monster fame, the bizarre plot twists and almost dreamlike feel are on par with these films. The fine story details are a little confused, but the premise is straightforward and clear, a classic action move revenge driven plot, and JD is (conveniently) given a group of people to hunt down one by one.

Granted, in practise you have a series of baffling scenes that don’t always make sense, individually or in the context of the whole film, my favourite being the main bad guy chasing JD over a bridge to an island, then deciding as JD isn’t going anywhere, to put his head down and get some sleep. As well, let’s not forget the endlessly quotable awful dialogue (“I’m going to kick BOTH your eyes out”), and while I suspect that much of what we see on screen was made up they went along, this in itself may account for the energetic anything-can-happen feel of the film.

The other astonishing and genuinely good element is the soundtrack, which at its best is a relentless mix of pulsing and droning synths, industrial noise and weird atmospherics, which is reminiscent of the likes of Skinny Puppy or Throbbing Gristle.