Thursday, 7 August 2008

I Spite Your Father, Sir (Brief Appreciation)

I have mentioned I Spite Your Father Sir a few times already, in the scripted "Dalton Trebeck Routine", which Mr Trebeck would sometimes do to the disgust of others, and in my appreciation of the sidekicks. But this is a strange film that needs special spotlight.

Directed by five foot one, reputed ex-gun-runner and terrorist Alain De Silva, this was a strange mix of very serious, seventies influenced hand-held direction and a bizarre script by Trebeck mainstay James Dennis, Trebeck himself and John Seeder (writer of the first two of that great cop series Killer Dave, before falling away to expensive flops, an under-rated directorial debut that failed, and a series of drug arrests and alleged ties to pimping of trans-gendered prostitutes )

Starting with a strange scene, not properly filmed yet so bizarre, where dogs give birth to babies via vomiting. The fact that its hard to tell what's going on, save that it takes place in a brightly-lit LA warehouse, making the effects look cheap, doesn't distract from the obvious weirdness. Obviously now all of this type of genetic foolish-ness is in China, where it belongs. (This young writer hopes that the Chinese grow some minotaurs.)

Following a dull credit sequence it is now five years later. Mr Trebeck is running security at the White House, teaching interns self- defence and how to kill a terrorist with simple to hand elements. (despite his comments in his scripted routine, Mr Trebeck is not an intern himself. I think that counts as a joke). We have a five minute training routine here, in a White House whose walls shake. Its a lot of fun, Mr Trebeck showing modesty as he teaches a comely young lass how to break a spine. Then the Van Dyke appears, as the president himself (the only time Van Dyke played an authority role, being very stiff when asked questions where he gives opinions). Some character scenes appear for a time, start to drag then the action begins. The director, in commentary, says he was influenced by French Connection 2 (yes, in this film Mr Trebeck channels Gene Hackaman. And does a fine job of it.)

The mutant kids attack at night, giving us a twenty minute sequence, where the interns are taken out one by one, where security teams are massacred, where children behave unspeakably to adults. While the stalking sequences are a bit repetitive, the pay-offs are great, if likely added later. Twenty-somethings get macheted, pumped full of lead, decapitated, burnt alive. Security men are shot-gunned to death. The mutant children age oddly, some almost like newborns, others almost ten. To be honest the acting for them, and the interns, is pretty awful. You have to imagine a better film usually. The mastermind appears. This is obviously Mr Wheatley, giving a very strange performance. He talks of women with hair made of rats. Talks of machines made of wood, of burning water. Its meant to be eccentric, to suggest someone mad enough to make these children but suggests that he is high and hasn't read the script. But it's still the highlight of the film.

Mr Trebeck eventually appears again, after being off-stage for a long time, with the comely young intern and the president. They wander around the ruins, were presumably hiding but Mr Trebeck suggests they were activating security to have the White House surrounded. Doesn't sound very convincing as an excuse. You can't help but picture Mr Trebeck whimpering like a coward somewhere. As a fan that's hard to take.

Eventually Mr Trebeck and Wheatley have a square-off, the children attacking also, Van Dyke saving the young intern and hides. Mr Trebeck fascinates the killer children and is tied up.

At this point Jared James shows up, gives a brief phoned in performance as the guy leading the security outside, yet unsure what to do. He appears through-out the second half, is dull, given nothing to do, has no bearing on the outcome. He pads the film's brief running time.

Inside the White House, Mr Trebeck sees that Wheatley has the president's family under guard, gives a plan to release information to enemies, to where to find chemicals to attack the US by creating more mutations. Somehow he has to use information from the White House yet he has never needed their aid in the first place to create these monsters. So why did he not just give them direct to the terrorists? Why show off with the mutants? Its a plot device that makes no sense. Even if there are deleted scenes suggesting that Wheatley was ex-military using US technology against them it would likely still not make total sense.

Next we have Dalton talking to the killer children, a twenty minute scene where he bonds with the "monsters" gives some Buddhist wisdom, says such things as "look at the view", "always ask why you are here" and "be modest, don't expect the world to love you". It actually takes them down a little, making Wheatley go nuts, starts spouting about hair rats and such-like.

Mr Trebeck uses this time to escape (its shot dark so I can't quite work out how he managed to do this), finds Van Dyke and intern. Van Dyke is injured, falls asleep. What follows is the most disturbing scene in the film, a love scene between Mr Trebeck and the intern literally young enough to be his daughter. She shows way too much flesh for it simply to be romantic and you'll likely feel dirty after seeing the event. Mr Trebeck looks confused and embarrassed throughout. After this Van Dyke wakes, gets hold of a chainsaw, goes after his family.

Film reaches its conclusion with Van Dyke and intern fighting and killing many monsters with chainsaws and guns. Mr Trebeck stands in the centre of the room, sadly shakes his head through-out. Eventually the monsters get the idea and stop attacking. The family is saved and Mr Trebeck faces down Wheatley.

Wheatley has his own people to protect him, who Mr Trebeck and the monsters destroy, before Mr Trebeck and Wheatley engaging in a five minute brutal show-down, one of the best ever done on such a budget, the one moment where the director and writers are in the same film. The fighters literally tear one another apart before Mr Trebeck wins and titles suddenly appear. No mention is made of what happens to the monsters, to the now murderous president, to the comely young intern and Mr Trebeck. It is left to you imagination and is a tad unsatisfying.

So there you have it. I Spite Your Father, Sir is one of the odder late films of Mr Trebeck. It is worth a look for its cultish scenes, even is its a bit paceless. But still far superior to most of the muck contaminating our screens today.

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