Saturday, February 27, 2021

Only now does it occur to me... CHASERS (1994)

Only now does it occur to me... that Dennis Hopper slides a nice little homage to his friend and collaborator David Lynch in his "THE LAST DETAIL-reimagined-as-a-90s-comedy" road movie, CHASERS. The homage in question is an extended shot of a logging truck, just like in TWIN PEAKS.

That's not all: this thing is packed with Lynch collaborators, including BLUE VELVET and DUNE's Dean Stockwell as a car dealership owner:

"Here's to your fuck, Frank!"

WILD AT HEART's Crispin Glover as a put-upon sailor who's been pushed around for too long:

"I'm making my lunch!"

and LOST HIGHWAY's Gary Busey as a marine who clearly is improvising all of his dialogue:

Hopper himself appears as a lingerie salesman with a fake-Karl Malden nose, for some reason:

"Heineken? Fuck that shit!"

Anyway, what we have here is an episodic, charmingly rambling, critically maligned road movie that is better than I expected it to be. Tom Berenger, doing kind of a whisky-ravaged Tom Waits/BEETLEJUICE voice is a hardboiled career member of Shore Patrol, transporting Navy prisoners across the country.

William McNamara (a likable man-génue who deserved a better career––you may have seen him in SURVIVING THE GAME, DREAM A LITTLE DREAM, EXTREME JUSTICE, or Argento's OPERA) plays a young sailor on his last day before discharge. 
He's enlisted to help Berenger out with a prisoner transport––though due to a clerical mix-up, the prisoner is unexpectedly a woman.
Played by Erica Eleniak (former BAYWATCH cast member, UNDER SIEGE cake-jumper, and co-star of BETRAYAL and BORDELLO OF BLOOD), she actually brings pathos and humor to a role that could have easily been a caricature. As the unlikely trio crosses the country and bonds with one another (again, THE LAST DETAIL is the point of origin/departure), we meet the whole host of character actors I have already detailed, as well as zany waitress Marilu Henner (TAXI, PERFECT):

and creepy-ass trucker Frederic Forrest (APOCALYPSE NOW, FALLING DOWN):
Born to play a creepy trucker

In the end, CHASERS was Dennis Hopper's final feature as a director, and it's a weird, pleasant relic of the "EASY RIDERS, RAGING BULLS" era, worth a look for character actor and Americana aficionados. I can probably sum it up best in guessing that Wim Wenders probably loves the shit out of this movie.

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