Impulse (1974) (part 5 of 7)
We cut to Matt’s motel room, where Harold Sakata is lighting up his pipe. I guess, technically, his character’s name is Pete, but really he’s just playing another variation on Odd Job here. Matt asks Pete if he’s just passing through, and Pete replies, “That’s depend on you [sic].” I guess Mr. Sakata didn’t invest much of his Goldfinger salary into English lessons.
Pete wants to know if Matt is into some “action”, but Matt assures him, “No, no, no, Pete. There’s no action here.” I’ll say. Matt then says that if he had known Pete was coming, he would have brought some liquor. In response, Pete pulls out a flask of J&B and Matt goes to get some glasses.
When Matt is in the bathroom and out of Pete’s sight, he pounds his head on the door frame, frustrated. He then picks up two glasses and re-emerges, looking distraught. Pete asks him, “Headache again? Have you been going [pause] to a doctor?” Matt sits down and says, “I never listened to—” but doesn’t finish the sentence. “Yeah,” Pete says. “Yeah.” Uh? Wha? What in the hell is going on here?
Then Matt picks up the framed picture of his mom. He expositories that it literally killed her when they put him in “that place”, and that he actually begged not to be let out. “It was like… putting a puppy dog out in the middle of the road and leaving it there!” And then having some guy in a hideous plaid suit come along and run right over it without stopping!
Then he recounts his murder of Helen, whispering breathlessly that “I took the scarf… and twisted it…. tighter… and – and tighter!” Well, no, that’s not quite how it happened, but close enough, right? “But you – but you gotta understand I didn’t mean to do it!” Considering that he doesn’t appear to be on such good terms with Pete here, I find it odd that he’s confessing a murder to him.
“You took my advice,” Pete nonsensically says. “But you told me there were no action [sic].” Matt sits right next to Pete and starts doing his pinky sucking thing. He worries that things aren’t going according to plan, but Pete assures him that “robbing people” isn’t easy, but “we’ll do alright”, with a heavy emphasis on the “we”. In case we don’t catch this, Matt says, “We?” and Pete says, “Yeah, we.”
Matt jumps to his feet, insisting that this is his “score”, and “I work alone!” He tries to walk away, but Pete assaults him in a clumsily executed move where he tosses Matt on the bed and plants a knee in his back. Pete yells something about being “back in the ring”, but now that he’s fifty, his “bones, can’t take it no more. I need cash now! You hear? Now!”
He then rather unconvincingly tosses Matt around some more, until they end up sitting face to face on the two beds. He tells Matt that “Business meeting always make me tense [sic]. Pour us a drink, Matt.” When Matt refuses, Pete puts his fist through the nightstand with a growl. Oh, great, there goes the security deposit. “That could have been your head,” Pete says. Well, Matt’s head is a little rounder, and probably not made out of balsa wood, but close enough.
Matt gets up to pour the drinks, then suddenly gets a broad smile on his face. He brings up a widow (presumably Julia), saying that she’s “loaded” and that “the old bitch has got it stashed someplace!” Pete grins and decides that the two of them will rob her tonight around ten.
Matt, however, is secretly formulating a plan and needs to get rid of Pete before then, so he pretends that the girl at the front desk is coming to see him any minute. “You all the time horny!” Pete says. And you all the time ungrammatical! Pete tells Matt to meet him at ten at a car wash, and warns against blowing town in the meantime. He then bows [?] to Matt and walks out.
After he leaves, Matt despondently clutches his mom’s picture. “Oh, Mom,” he says. “Oh, damn. Damn, damn, damn!” The guy who wrote this dialogue sure earned every single penny he made. In the next scene, it’s ten o’clock, and we find Tina (for no reason other than the plot demands it) climbing into Matt’s car and hiding in the back seat. Matt emerges from his motel room, this time wearing the flag of Sweden as a jacket. He gets in his car without spotting Tina in the back seat, which sort of strains credulity.
We cut to Matt’s car parked down at the car wash, but Matt himself is nowhere in sight. Pete’s RV pulls into the parking lot, and we know it’s Pete’s RV because there’s a banner on it reading “KARATE PETE”. Strangely, it’s a paper banner taped [?] to the side of the vehicle. We see Tina still in the back seat of Matt’s car, poking her head up to look around. Pete jumps out of his RV, and when there’s no sign of Matt, he goes and stands on his mark, er, I mean, he stands in no particular place. Suddenly, a thin noose falls out of the sky, wraps itself around Pete’s neck, and starts lifting him up.
We pan up to the roof of the car wash to find Matt using an elaborate system of winches and pulleys to hoist Pete up [!]. Pete claws at the noose but can’t break free, while Tina watches all of it happen in silent horror. Finally, Matt climbs down off the roof and laughingly tells Pete to “hang in there!” He then starts spinning Pete around like a piñata, which isn’t a wise move, as it gives us a pretty clear view of the back harness that’s really holding Harold Sakata up. Then, in one of the film’s few genuinely funny moments, Matt starts sparring and landing blows on Pete like he’s a punching bag [!!].
Matt grows concerned that Pete’s not dead yet, so he starts pounding on Pete’s chest and pulling at his hands. He succeeds in getting Pete to let go of the rope, but Pete starts fishing around in his pocket for a switchblade. We see Pete lift the knife and cut himself loose, so apparently Matt is content to just stand there and do nothing for the twenty seconds it takes Pete to do this.
Pete tumbles to the ground as some Hawaii-Five-O sound-alike music starts up. Matt gives Pete the patented James T. Kirk Flying Kick To The Face and sends him reeling, and thanks to the subtle acting job here, we can almost see the birds and stars flying around Pete’s head.
Matt jumps in his car, and Pete runs up and karate-chops the driver’s side window [?], resulting in a big ugly crack. Matt then pulls off in reverse and Pete chases him for a while. After a few seconds of this, Matt puts the car into drive and heads right towards Pete, who suddenly realizes that the “car vs. fat man” contest isn’t exactly evenly matched and starts running away.
Naturally, he runs directly into the car wash, “accidentally” bumping a switch that turns the thing on. Hey, woah, how did that happen? Thus begins a thrilling slow speed chase as Matt follows Pete through the carwash [!!]. Pete stumbles through all the scrubbing brushes, hilariously getting buffed, waxed, and rinsed with Matt’s car close behind. Meanwhile, Tina sits in the back with her ears plugged [?].
Just as they exit the wash, Pete collapses to the ground, becoming just another statistic in the epidemic of senseless soapy violence. Matt, seeing a golden opportunity, runs right over him, and the effect is just about on par with the earlier effect of the Doberman getting hit.
First, we see a shot of Matt’s car approaching, then a shot of Pete lifting his hands and screaming. Then we cut to Tina inside the car, and she’s not getting bumped or jostled or anything. Is this movie really expecting us to believe that running over a guy the size of Harold Sakata isn’t going to be felt inside the car? I mean, at least have Shatner drive over a speed bump or something.
Then we cut to Pete with his head all covered in blood, looking a lot less flat than I would have imagined. Matt decides to finish the job, so he kicks it into reverse. After another close-up of Matt’s tail lights and a close-up of Pete screaming, we’re supposed to believe he was run over again. Another shot of Tina inside the car shows, however, that she’s still not getting knocked around at all. Well, at least the film is consistent in its incompetence.
Matt jumps out, and after making sure no one is around (which is possibly something he should have done before running the guy over twice), he opens up his trunk and makes to put Pete’s body inside. Since there’s no way in hell that William Shatner could pick up Harold Sakata, they wisely cut away just as Matt grabs his arm. After a pointless shot of Tina looking traumatized, we cut back and find Pete’s body all nice and cozy in the trunk.
Matt then drives back to his motel, parks, and heads up to his room (With a body in the trunk?). Tina decides to match this stupidity by sneaking out of the car and loudly slamming the door while Matt is still within earshot. Naturally, Matt sees her, and some throbbing drums start up as we watch an “exciting” foot chase down the beach. It ends quickly, however, when Tina runs into a thicket of weeds, and despite the fact that she’s wearing white pajamas, Matt completely loses her. He cries out, “If ya tell anyone, I’ll kill you! You hear me? Kill you!” I have a feeling that as long as she stays away from car washes, however, she’ll be fine.
Tina gets back home and makes a real overwrought display of trying to decide whether or not to tell her mom. She fondles a picture of her dad for a while, then starts to call the cops. However, she immediately realizes that if she tells the police the movie will be over, so instead she falls onto her bed and sobs into her pillow.
The next day, Tina is playing out in her front yard, and we overhear Matt and Ann talking about her. Ann is concerned because Tina hasn’t said anything all morning. Also, she hasn’t broken any priceless dishes yet this morning, either. Ann says it might not be a good idea to bring Tina along with them to the beach, but Matt convinces her otherwise. Outside, Tina quietly examines Matt’s car and sees that the window that was karate-chopped is rolled down. Before she can investigate further, her mom calls her inside.
The next thing we see is a stone-faced Tina on the beach, marching over to her mom. Ann says that Matt went to get some candy, so Tina seizes the moment to whisper something in her ear. As she does this, we zoom past them right in on Matt, who now appears to be dressed like a turn of the century circus strongman. He sees Tina whispering in Ann’s ear and gets a frightened look.
Ann pulls away and angrily yells at Tina not to make stuff up. Tina shrieks that Matt’s broken window will be proof, but Ann isn’t listening. She makes her go back to the car, just as Matt walks up. He asks what’s wrong, but Ann says it’s nothing. The next thing we see is Matt in his muscle-T walking back to his car, and from this angle, the line where his wig stops and his real hair starts is just a tad bit too obvious. Matt sees that Ann and Tina are already inside the car and drives off.
They drive along silently for a while, until Tina complains about being “cold” and asks Matt to roll up his window. Hey… pretty sneaky, sis! This leads to Matt and Tina having a staring contest in the rear view mirror for a while. Ann finally notices them shooting the Evil Eye back and forth, and tells Matt to just roll up his window. He finally does so, revealing… a perfectly intact window. Ann gives Tina a “told you so” look and Tina makes a defeated face.
We cut to Matt back in his motel room, looking at a receipt that says “Replace Window” and getting a big, proud smirk on his face. (Yeah, you outsmarted a twelve year old. Way to go, dude.) Unfortunately, his moment of glory doesn’t last long, because he soon starts hearing echo-y voiceovers in his head. He flashes back to a conversation he had as a kid with his mom, where they discuss how he killed Sarge and she tells him he’ll be going to a special place for a while. In the most wooden voice possible, Young Matt pleads with his mom not to put him in there, but his mom reassures him that all he needs is some “rest and care”.
Then Matt gets flashbacks of strangling Helen. (What does any of this have to do with his getting the window fixed?) Matt also flashes back to Helen’s corpse floating in the lake, which he never even saw in the first place. Then he has more flashbacks which really waste time, because it’s to stuff we just saw two minutes ago.
We next see Ann and Tina at home, and Ann is also hearing echo-y flashbacks. In her head, she hears Tina saying stuff like “Matt killed that man!” and “I saw him do it!” Ann apologizes to her daughter for getting so angry, but again tells her not to make up stories. This causes Tina to turn her voice into shrill needles piercing my eardrums as she screams that she’s not making anything up.
Ann points out she was wrong about Matt’s window being cracked. “He was smart, real smart,” Tina pouts. “He had it fixed!” Yes, the utter genius of this takes my breath away, too. Who knows, maybe he even took the body out of his trunk and hid it somewhere.
Ann says she knows what’s at the root of all this: Tina resents Matt trying to take the place of her father. (Woah, did Dr. Jung just walk into the room?) Tina whines that “He said he was going to kill me!” but Ann insists that Tina’s “not going to make me stop seeing him!” Ah, thanks for understanding, Mom.
Tina then shrieks, “I saw you at the motel with him!” while entering a register that only dogs can hear. She asks her mom, “Do you know what they call women like you?” Um, bad actresses? Set decoration? As expected, Ann smacks the taste out of her daughter’s mouth and Tina runs off crying.