Friday, August 19, 2011

Bravo's 100 Scariest Movie Moments:#73-Blood Simple(1984)

By Eric Polk-
[Be warned, Reaplings! This movie doesn't involved a masked killer, dumb teenagers 'reading comics' in the woods, or most other of the slasher trappings in a horror film...because this isn't a horror film.]

Nope, instead this a noirish crime thriller birthed from the minds of the Coen Bros. In fact, it was their very first film. And a pretty darn good one, imo.

Julian Marty (Dan Hedaya), the owner of a Texas bar, suspects his wife Abby (Frances McDormand) is having an affair with one of his bartenders, Ray (John Getz). A jealous and violent man, Marty hires private detective Loren Visser (M. Emmet Walsh) to take photos of Ray and Abby in bed at a local motel. The morning after their tryst, Marty makes a menacing phone call to them, making it clear he is well aware of their relationship.

The following day, Ray confronts Marty at the bar, quitting his job. Marty threatens Ray's life and, out of spite, further advises him to not trust Abby. Marty hires Visser once again, this time to kill the couple while Marty takes a fishing trip in Corpus Christi to create an alibi. Visser breaks into Ray's home, stealing Abby's gun and viewing the sleeping couple through their bedroom window. Later, he presents photos of their corpses to Marty when collecting his $10,000 fee. However, Visser shoots Marty with Abby's gun in a double cross. He leaves, forgetting he left behind his cigarette lighter under Marty's caught fish. He leaves Abby's gun at the scene, attempting to frame her for Marty's murder.

Later that evening, Ray—having not been murdered by Visser at all—returns to the bar to collect his wages. Finding Marty's body and Abby's gun, Ray assumes Abby murdered her husband. He decides to cover up the murder, cleaning the office of Marty's blood and disposing any evidence he finds in a backyard incinerator. Ray puts Marty's body in his car and drives off to a remote rural field to dispose of it. However, Ray discovers that a bleeding Marty is still clinging to life. He is forced to throw Marty in a hole he has dug for him, burying him alive not long before sunrise. Ray calls Abby at a phone booth after leaving the scene; she thanks him for calling her in the morning, but he misinterprets this as her gratitude for his role in Marty's murder.

Visser burns photographs of Abby and Ray, which had been manipulated to look like he had killed them. He realizes one is missing, having been locked in the bar's safe by Marty before he was shot. Annoyed, Visser reaches for his cigarette lighter only to find it missing as well. Meanwhile, a deeply disturbed Ray visits Abby and tries to explain that he "cleaned up your mess". Abby, of course, does not know what Ray is talking about. Ray assumes Abby is being coy, and they get into an argument. They are interrupted by a telephone call, which Abby answers. It is Visser, who says nothing. Abby assumes that Marty has called her and says so to Ray. But Ray assumes Abby is lying, covering for a call from another lover. He storms out.

Confused by Ray's behavior and ignorant of her husband's death, Abby goes to the bar to find it ransacked. Visser had been trying to break into the safe, but was interrupted by Abby's arrival; Marty's now-rotting fish are still on the desk, and the lighter is still beneath them. Observing the scene, Abby now thinks that Ray killed Marty because of a money dispute. She accuses him of this the next time they meet, but he explains that he found her gun at the bar and that he buried Marty alive. Ray returns once more to the bar and opens the safe, finding Visser's faked photo. He realizes he is being followed as he leaves for Abby's apartment.

When Abby arrives home that night, she turns on a light and finds Ray looking out the large window. He tells Abby to turn off the light because someone is watching them from across the street. Abby thinks Ray is threatening her, and she leaves the light on. Visser is actually on the roof of a nearby building with a sniper rifle and, seeing Ray illuminated in the window, shoots him dead. Realizing Ray was right, Abby scrambles for safety and knocks out the light. Visser arrives at the apartment as she hides in the bathroom. Failing to find his prized lighter in Ray's pockets, he goes to the bathroom to kill Abby, who is not there. He reaches out the window for a window to the neighboring apartment. Reaching around, he opens it, but Abby slams it down on his wrist and drives a knife through his hand into the windowsill. Visser screams and shoots holes through the wall, punching through, and removes the knife. Abby retreats back to the apartment and waits behind the bathroom door, holding a gun.

What makes this film work for the most is both Detective Visser and the infamous 'burying' scene. This film is in a sense a twisted morality play where there are no good guys(or gals) just people with shades of grey as in real life. There's also that retro feel, this easily could have been released in the 50's(though with less violence) as well as 1984.

If your a fan of movies such as Blue Velvet, you'll like this film!

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