Friday, May 7, 2010


Original Title: Deathcheaters
Year: 1976
Director: Brian Trenchard-Smith
Writer: Michael Cove, Brian Trenchard-Smith (story)
Genre: Action, Comedy

Two stuntmen and war buddies are recruited by a man known only as Mr. Culpepper to retrieve papers from a remote

At least Stunt Rock had the ridiculous stage act to offset the lack of actual movie.

Deathcheaters was I suppose Trenchard-Smith's attempt at a comedy. As the film started, I actually felt a little confident in this realization, as the laughs weren't gut-busting, but at least entertaining. John Hargreaves playing stuntman Steve Hall and Grant Page playing stuntman Rodney Cann had good chemistry at first. Steve was sort of the voice to Rodney's peculiarities (such as wearing a Seinfeld-style pirate shirt and talking to his Bassett hound a la Roscoe and Flash from The Dukes of Hazzard). This film was released before either Seinfeld of Dukes though.

Can't ever say Trenchard-Smith wasn't influential!

There is a great scene in particular that really had my hopes high for the rest of the film. Steve and Rodney are filming an advertisement for motor oil or something. As Steve talks to the camera, we suddenly cut to Rodney flying through the air in this crazy industrial dune buggy. This eventually leads to a chase as they are bored with the commercial and decide to help out the cops driving by chasing some apparent bandits. Cars drive through a shopping mall and fun is had.

However, after this, as we get into the real plot of the film, everything just grinds to a screeching halt. The just for whatever reason becomes decidedly UNfunny. (With one notable exception that I can remember with a silly joke between Page and a secretary... her telling him that her plans for the evening consist of washing her hair then asking him if he has shampoo at his place.)

The stunts in the center portion of the film felt a little dry for me as well. Not that I would be anywhere remotely brave enough to repel from a building and such, but it all just felt out of place and very unspectacular after the thrilling car chase at the onset.

By the end of the film we finally bring the plot together as the two stuntmen use the skills they obtained in the war to infiltrate a factory and steal documents, but despite this OK final scene with quite a few explosions, machine gun fire, and what appears to be a trademark Tenchard-Smith hang-gliding sequence, it still all ultimately felt very flat.

Don't worry, that standing on the edge shot above isn't me after watching the film... although it was getting close.

Page and Hargreaves are solid in their roles. I like Page despite not having loads of range, but it's awesome to see this great stuntman in essentially a lead role. Hargreaves is probably the standout. He seems like he would be a very good leading man given the right role, although I have not seen anything else with him in it as far as I know.

You know, I have had as much enthusiasm at writing this review as I actually had watching it. To give you a little peek behind the curtain here, I started this goddamn thing on May 1st!

Deathcheaters wasn't terrible. But it wasn't all that good either. It just committed that cardinal genre-film sin... boring the audience. At least this one man audience.

Maybe I need to watch this with the commentary track on and see how I feel about it then.

Not recommended

Score: 4 / 10

Yeah... not so much.

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