May 28, 2007
When Time Ran Out... (1980) (part 7 of 8)
Out front, the group assembles. Sam, Mona, the whores, the kids and the native pile into the Suburban. Brian tells Hank he’s ready, and Hank asks who else is coming. A couple people look like they’re trying to go, but the Random Idiots take control of the crowd. Random Idiot #3 and his girlfriend tell Hank he’s crazy, and not to tell them what to do. We’ll let Bob tell us what to do, if you don’t mind! Random Idiot #4 asks, “What makes you such an expert?” Duh! He’s an oil guy! They know everything!
The Valdezes escape the throng. They tell Hank they believe him and are coming with him. Shelby and Kay also appear. A quick, nonsensical stare-tag game breaks out, which Hank loses by looking away instead of at another character. Findly and Conti also break free from the crowd. They load Conti into the back of Brian’s pickup, thoughtfully slamming his blistered back against the front of the bed. Hank tries in vain once again to get more people to come. No one else will, so finally they start off.
From her room, Nikki watches the group leave. Bob walks in and she asks him where they’re all headed. “To get killed,” Bob says. Nikki mentions Shelby’s unusual goodbye, saying she’d never seen him act like that before, you know, hammy and all. She says it was like he was looking at her for the last time. Bob tells her they’re in no danger. You think Bob’s in denial?
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The group drives up a mountain road, exchanging meaningful glances and stares, careful not to actually speak to one another. Kay takes a swig from a glass jar of something that looks like it may have already been drunk once. She passes it to Brian, who’s also eager for a taste. Then they pass it back to Findly and Conti. Findly gives the unseeing, unsuspecting Conti a taste of it. Isn’t it a better joke to play on the blind guy if they don’t also drink it?
They apparently get near the volcano, dodging burning cars on the road. Sam tells Shelby they can make it if the volcano stays cool a little longer. Back in the jeep with Hank, Valdez tries to get his wife to take her medication. She refuses. Think that will have a bearing on future events?
Valdez asks Hank what he does, and Hank replies he’s currently unemployed. Good one, Hank. Valdez says he and his wife are now retired, but they used to be showbiz people. “Rene and Rose.” (Finally! They get first names!) They had a high wire act where they never worked with a net. Yes, that’s quite enough foreshadowing, thank you.
After another stare in which I thought Kay might actually burrow into Brian’s skull, she asks if he wants to talk about what’s bothering him. He says no. She insists, so he confesses, “For years, I had a dream and now it’s gone. Can you understand?” She says she can. Well, thank you, movie. That was another super-important moment.
Suddenly, the sky gets smoky and orange as they drive through a burning sugar cane field. Brian slows up, saying, “No, no, no!” Suddenly, they’re back in a forest and they drive around a curve where it’s sunny again, so that didn’t matter, either. But there is a giant rockslide blocking the road ahead.
Everyone pulls up and gets out to investigate. Hank asks if there’s another way, but there isn’t. He climbs up the rock slide and checks out the matte painting on the other side. Rene tells Rose it’ll be very rough from now on, but she says it’s okay. She’s so plucky! “It wasn’t so long ago, I was walking the high wire!” Okay, movie! We get it! Stop!
Hank reaches the top and tells everyone to come up. “The road’s fallen away and there’s nothing but a small ledge. You’ll be okay if you don’t panic.” Mona immediately panics. Sam yells at her and slaps her face and she’s perfectly calm again. And I do have to say, that part was really quite funny.
Kay climbs over the edge, and nearly loses her footing as she discovers there’s nothing but a cheap matte painting of a sheer cliff beneath them. Hey, I know! Let’s take a quick poll to see who you all think won’t make it across the ledge. All of our “name” stars obviously have to make it farther than here, so that leaves the lesser and no-name folks. We’ll include Sam, Mona, Hookers #1 and #2, Native Man, Native Boy and Native Girl. Okay, where’s your money? I’m going with Native Man. He’s escaped death once already today, he has a link to the kids (which means a hardship on the rest of the group once he’s dead) and he hasn’t yet had a line. Let’s watch!
Oh! Part of the ledge broke under Findly, but he’s okay. Everybody’s doing pretty good. Good to see the ladies are all wearing sensible hiking heels. Uh oh. We’ve focused in on Native Man. The music’s building to a crescendo! Cue a break in the ledge, and away plummets Native Man! Wow. Didn’t see that coming. Everyone watches him fall, then continues on.
Suddenly, it’s dark out. Stock footage lava is again exploding out of the crater. The crowds are still on the veranda of the hotel and by the amount of talk about “watermelon” and “rhubarb” it seems they’re not convinced of their safety. Bob watches the volcano from his terrace and Iolani comes in. He takes her hand and kisses her, and then tells her, “No more hiding.” That really means a lot, too, considering you’ve got about an hour left to live. They kiss again and sure enough, Nikki walks in on them.
Iolani backs off and Nikki confronts Bob.
|Nikki: Look at me. Look at me! I asked you what the truth was about everything. You didn’t answer me then, you’ve answered me now. Shelby was right. You needed me to get to him. Tell me I’m wrong. Tell me I’m wrong! Lie! Lie to me one last time! It’ll be the biggest lie of all! Lie!|
She hauls off and slaps him. Quite a day for people getting knocked around.
Bob gives her a know-it-all look and says, “You should have gone with him. You don’t belong here now.” Nikki stares at him in disbelief (man, I should’ve just got a case of something!), and runs out in tears. Wow, is she stupid. The folks at the Darwin Awards may want to keep her in mind. Even now, she could have gotten into a car and headed away from the hotel and maybe saved herself. Anyway, Bob returns to Iolani and they stare at the volcano together.
Okay. Here we go. The whole movie has been building up to this, and man, is it weak. The jungle party enters a clearing, and there before them lies a wood and steel reinforced bridge. Beneath it is a river of lava that licks at the planks whenever no one is on it. When there are people on it, the lava and fire obediently retreat 40 or 50 feet. On the other side of the bridge is salvation.
The whores start panicking and say they can’t cross. Hank asks Brian if there’s some other way around, but Brian again says no. They cross or they stay. Hank starts across, kicking at the loose planks and railing to test the structural stability. Fire and explosions burst up from time to time, causing everyone to scream and stare. Two real-time minutes later, Hank’s finally on the other side. Then he walks back across [!] instead of just telling everyone to hurry over. But since there’s still a half hour left, we have some time to kill. So I hope you like bridges.
The kids are a little freaked, and the boy convinces his sister (through meaningful glances) to run away with him. Unfortunately, nobody notices that they’re missing. Hank decides Findly, Conti and Brian should cross first. They guide Conti halfway across, when suddenly the plank he’s on gives way. The wispy thin Findly and wispy thin Brian struggle to save Conti.
Meanwhile, somewhere in the forest, Rose is laid out against a rock dying. Apparently, she should have taken her medicine, because now her heart’s giving out. Rose tells Rene she wants him to go and help with the children, but he refuses to leave her. She says he must live and go back to the circus. He finally tells her he will. Hmm. Children. Circus. Suddenly I feel like I’m watching the end of Signs.
Brian, Findly and Conti finally finish crossing. Hank tells Mona to cross next with the kids. Kids? I thought you had them! Everyone finally realizes they’ve lost the kids, so Hank tells Mona to go across with the whores instead. Sam and Hank break up to look for the kids.
Apparently, no one’s noticed that the Valdezes are also missing. We cut back to them and find that Rose is dead. Hank discovers Rene mourning for her. He tells Rene he’s truly sorry, but that he needs to come with them. Rene says there’s no reason to now.
Sam runs up and tells Hank he looked everywhere (everywhere?) and couldn’t find the kids. This perks Rene up. He remembers Rose’s words and says he saw them awhile ago. Way to stop them, Rene! He says he’ll get them and bring them to the bridge.
Back at the bridge, neither Mona nor the whores have crossed yet [!]. Shelby grabs Mona and starts across with her as the whores just watch and continue to whimper about being afraid. Yeah. They carry over 400 different venereal diseases, and this they’re afraid of.
Lots of explosions go off and Mona gets all hysterical again. Unfortunately, Shelby doesn’t slap her. Sam runs down to the edge of the bridge and yells, “Mona!” Hilariously, Kay grabs his waist and pulls the little guy back. Anyway, they finally get across.
Hank tells the two hookers to cross. Dark Haired Hooker finally says she’ll go, but only if Kay takes her across. Cue meaningful stares between Kay and Hank. Hank tells her to go ahead, and they start across. A few steps behind, Sam and the blonde hooker follow.
Okay. Looking like a primo time to thin the cast here. Four characters on a flimsy bridge with constant explosions. Who do you think? Can’t be Kay. So at least one of the hookers. Just as this group gets halfway across, the bridge weakens on Hank’s end and everyone falls to their knees. Sam slips through a hole and hangs on precariously to a plank. The railing gives out and the blonde hooker falls into the lava. Now I’ll admit, at this point, I called it wrong. I really thought the brunette would go.
Sam struggles to hang on but the bridge shifts again, so he loses his grip and he, too, plummets to his death. And that I totally didn’t expect, what with the Gratuitous Pathos Principle having just been applied to the Valdezes. Apparently, only one couple is allowed to survive a disaster movie together.
Suddenly, the bridge is totally engulfed in flames again, but Kay and the other hooker finally get across. Just as they do, a huge explosion goes off right under the bridge and all the planks are blown off. Now it’s just two steel girders. Hank and Kay exchange “uh-oh” glances as Rene pops out of the trees with the kids.
Rene says he has a plan. “Years ago in the circus, I used to do something special. I’d walk the high wire, and I’d carry somebody on my back.” Hank and Rene exchange meaningful glances. “I have to find something,” Rene says, as he dashes back into the trees. So if you’re in this movie, and you’ve got a moment to spare, why not fill it by exchanging meaningful glances with all of your fellow castmates? So they do.
Rene finds a perfectly straight bamboo pole sawed to just the right length. How fortunate! He runs back to the bridge. He tells the kids he’s going to give them piggyback rides, but they have to hold on tight and close their eyes. Right. The kids were scared when the bridge was there and they only had to walk across it. But now they’re okay with an old man carrying them across on his back over a narrow piece of metal?
Hank puts the boy on Rene’s back and they start across. Strangely enough, the far away shots don’t look a lot like Burgess here. So we don’t get a lot of those. Lots of head shots and footwork shots, but not many long shots.
The lava river tries valiantly to throw Rene off his game, but to no avail. Hank decides there isn’t enough time to wait for Rene to get back, so he puts the little girl on his back and they start across along the side of the girder. Rene and the little boy make it across. It appears high wire acts are the oil man’s one weak area of knowledge, because once Hank and the little girl get halfway over, yet another huge explosion rocks the girder and it weakens more. Hank loses his grip and hangs by his arms from the bottom support, and the little girl slips to his waist.
Rene grabs his pole again and goes back across to help them. He helps the girl up to her feet, then helps Hank. The little girl gets on Hank’s back again and they continue across, only this time Rene showboats by walking backwards. I hope he gets one of those little footstools next, and carries it out to the middle to sit on. I love that! Hank and the little girl reach the other side and Hank collapses to the ground.
Shelby and Kay help Hank to his feet and Hank and Kay embrace. Taking a cue, the little boy approaches Rene and hugs him too. Shelby, not getting any hug action, says, “Let’s go.”
Rene stays kneeling. Hank looks back across the bridge, puts a hand on Rene’s shoulder, and tells him, “She would have been proud of ya.” End scene. And for those of you playing along at home, that scene took a full twenty minutes to complete.