Monday, October 25, 2021

OUT OF THE BODY (1988) Movie Review

Scare-A-Thon Totals to Date:

Total Movies Watched: 24
Total First Time Views: 15
Amount raised for ALBANY PARK THEATER PROJECT: $1,920.00

Out of the Body (1988) d. Brian Trenchard-Smith (Australia) (87 min) (1st viewing)

Aspiring musician David Gaze (Mark Hembrow) works at the local university with his ex-wife as his now-boss (which has got to be loads of fun), wiling away the nighttime hours romancing his lovely girlfriend Neva (Tessa Humphries) and working on his latest keyboard/guitar compositions. But our bleached-blond bohunk has a problem: When he falls asleep, he either has premonitions of successful professional women being brutally and bloodily murdered or he is witnessing the murders in real time from the killer’s point-of-view. In the spirit of good citizenry, David tries to tell the police, who dismiss him as a loon, then tries to tell the prospective victims, who dismiss him as a creepy loon. As the body count piles up, David understandably finds himself the chief suspect in the case, with matters only growing more confusingly dire night after night.

Trenchard-Smith, responsible for such wingding Ozploitation outings as Turkey Shoot, BMX Bandits, and The Man from Hong Kong (as well as a couple of Leprechaun installments and Night of the Demons 2), puts the pedal to the metal and never lets up with this hodgepodge of genre flicks, with possession, poltergeist, Jekyll/Hyde, and slasher angles all putting in appearances.

Neva, with her background in mysticism and mythology, proposes that David is astral projecting, sending his spirit out of his corporeal being and witnessing the murders (Gaze = sees, get it?), but is unable to explain why he can’t see the killer. Well, it doesn’t take a Ph.D to figure out that David is in fact the killer, but in an inspired move, he’s like a reverse Freddy Krueger, where the murderer inside awakens whenever he falls asleep. And being that David is not actually there in corporeal form, the victims are murdered by being lifted off the ground, tossed about, hung by the neck, or bodily shredded by pointy bits wielded by unseen hands.

From the overwrought performances (including Hammer veteran Shane Briant and his prodigious eyebrows, who collectively put in the briefest of appearances) to the bizarre murder sequences, “energetic” is probably the best word to describe Out of the Body, and that goes a long way toward selling the boatload of bananas that screenwriter Kenneth G. Ross (his only feature credit) has brought to market. Trenchard-Smith keeps the objects and plot points flying so fast in our direction that we ultimately don’t care that the whole thing doesn’t make a lick of sense. What I will say, however, is that while I’ve seen all of these elements at play before, I can’t remember seeing them all in the same movie at the same time.

Bizarrely, it appears that the film has never gotten an official DVD or Blu-ray release here in the States (and only a minimal VHS presence, with some wildly misleading box art, shown above). Fortunately, I have generous friends in high place, with Belgian blood brother Gert hooking me up with a copy. Here’s hoping that this wackadoo gem finds its way out of the dungeon soon!

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