On the early morning streets of New York City, a drunken Artie and Joe delinquently roam the stillness of the Bronx after hours. After joyfully mugging an old man for a measly eight dollars and his wristwatch, their night leads them heading to the subway platform for more so called fun. A riotous Artie and Joe hop inside a railcar full of passengers that consists of two army privates on leave, a young couple on a date, an elderly Jewish couple, a young family with their 4-year-old daughter, an in recovery alcoholic, a passed out homeless man, a bigoted African-American and his wife, and a nervous gay. The passengers’ delineated diversity doesn’t thwart the two thugs’ harassment that holds the riders, in fear and in obstruction, from leaving the railcar and as personal limits are pushed to the edge, moral courage is effectively choked down by the helpless riders until one of them can’t take the bombardment of the perpetual daunting intimidation.
“The Incident’s” in your face, tell it as it is, hostage style dramatic thriller from 1967 barrels down an endless track of relevance and suspense inside the idealistic perception of New York City’s culture in the mid-20th century. Director Larry Peerce (“One Potato, Two Potato”) helms a masterpiece of a film that not only defied cinematic character standards but also defied the NYC transit authority who denied Peerce, along with cinematographer Gerald Hirschfeld (“Young Frankenstein”) to shoot in and on the NYC subway system. Taking a relatively guerrilla filmmaking approach to achieve railcar and platform exteriors, Peerce also managed to construct a true to size, if not larger, railcar to get the drama unfolding between the harmless transit riders and their two terrorizers. “The Incident” was the first feature film penned by teleplay screenwriter Nicholas E. Baehr whom also wrote the television movie version of the story entitled “Ride with Terror” a few years prior, but Larry Peerce clawed, scraped, and held together a cast and a crew that nearly dismantled due to funding and production issues until ultimately being saved by 20th Century Fox.
“The Incident” has such an ensemble cast that it’s difficult to even know where to begin. Two introductory feature film performances from Martin Sheen (“Apocalypse Now”) and Tony Musante (“The Bird with the Crystal Plumage”) as the errant ruffians is unequivocally good at being bad. Musante, especially, leaves a lasting impression as Joe Ferrone who oozes with slimy browbeating tactics by plucking that one sensitive nerve in each of the riders. As equally as good in comparison is in the injured Army private from Oklahoma, played humbly and genuinely by the baby-faced Beau Bridges (“Max Payne”), with a gosh-golly grin and a peacemaker wit about him that makes the private a prime target. Sheen, Musante, and Bridges are only the caboose when considering the train of highly trained styled actors that also include Thelma Ritter (“Rear Window”), Donna Mills (“Play Misty for Me”), Brock Peters (“Soylent Green”), Jack Gilford (“Cocoon”), Ruby Dee (“Jungle Fever”), Diana Van der Vlis (“X: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes”), Mike Kellin (“Sleepaway Camp”), Jan Sterling (“Women’s Prison”), Gary Merrill (“The Woman Who Wouldn’t Die”), and Victor Arnold (“Wolfen”). Ed McMahon makes his feature film debut as well! As an ensemble unit, the interactions evoke immense tensions and passion inside that railcar and from our very own couches.
Everything about Larry Peerce’s “The Incident” capitalizes on being nearly flawless. From the construction of the last act railcar set to the flash of urban realism, “The Incident” is high level on the suspense thriller hierarchy, but the characters and their personal baggage egregiously forced to the surface is utterly captivating and refreshingly cathartic to simultaneously showcase adult bullying engage enragement while also bubbling and bursting through thin layered passive aggressive convictions and attitudes. Joe Ferrone is symbolically a catalyst for the majority of riders, exposing internal loathsome, sham friendships, and tough guy personas, that naturally shreds down their ghastly facades and revealing their true, if not unpleasant, selves. Equally as compelling is the one scene with racial profiling and prosecution by the law enforcement that is heavily journaled in the today’s media and Peerce clearly believes in this injustice and adds the brief, yet powerful, moment at the tail end of the film that involves Brock Peters’ character.
Eureka Entertainment proudly presents the 20th Century Fox raw and intense New York based thriller, “The Incident,” onto a dual formatted, Blu-ray and DVD, home video as part as Eureka Classic sub-label, marking the first time on Blu-ray in the United Kingdom. Unfortunately, a DVD-R screener was provided for coverage so a review of the video and audio will not be covered, but from the spec information provided, the transfer is a 1080p high definition digital transfer with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray. There are optional English subtitles available. What can be said about Gerald Hirschfeld cinematography is this, it’s a complete mastery of the trade with a penchant for black and white and seamless edited camera cuts. Bonus features listed are a brand new and exclusive audio commentary by film critic and writer Alexandra Heller-Nicholas, author of Rape-Revenge Films: A Critical Study, a post-screen Q&A session with director Larry Peerce from the 2017 Wisconsin Film Festival, the original trailer, and a collector’s booklet feature new writing by film writer Sam Deighan and critic Barry Forshaw. “The Incident” is searingly powerful and a societal wake up call of we’re all in this together or we’re all a part of the problem.\
Newly hired UCLA astronomy professor James Pond becomes mixed up with peculiar behaving individuals when his car breaks down in a quiet suburban neighborhood. Held hostage in a small house, James reluctantly follows orders from an automaton man named Gilligan involved with a unusual plan for James to reproduce with the lovely Mary Ann. James’ ensnarement feel like a gag at first until he awakes bound to a bed and strapped with a shock collar; the once thought innocent fling with Mary Ann has taken a turn for the worse when he the realization that the whole human race could be in jeopardy. James becomes captivated by Mary Ann’s innocence, naivety, and beauty making his attempts to escape more difficult without her, but if he decides to stay, a ominous question mark will determine his fate.
“Flytrap” is a micro sci-fi thriller production written-directed by 1995’s “The Mangler” screenwriter Stephen David Brooks and stars television series “Salem” Jeremy Crutchley as Jimmy Pond, Austrian born Ina-Alice Kopp as Mary Ann in ambivalence, and Jonah Blechman as the emotionless Gilligan. From the get-go, “Flytrap” slowly builds a momentum, but never really gains the full steam while revolving around Jimmy Pond’s detainee state. Ambiguity plagues the story with many unanswered questions, leaving more for the audiences’ imagination rather than to the exposition and that begs the question whether everything that did happen to the astronomer happened in reality or in just in his mind? For example, the voice in the air condition duct stays anonymous until, maybe or maybe not, the end and, perhaps instead, that was all just Jimmy’s subconscious informing him of his rational side opposed to what his heart desires such as, for instance, Mary Ann is not who she seems. Is Jimmy that much wrapped up in his paranoia?
If you didn’t notice from the film’s synopsis, references from “Gilligan’s Island” are abundantly staged throughout, especially with the character names. Jason Duplissea has a minor role as the Skipper for only a brief moment and we never see Duplissea grace the screen with his presence again. Besides, Duplissea didn’t resemble his television show namesake as the others. Other pop culture references, such as Alfred Hitchcock, MTV’s Punk’d, and various others, are mentioned but the conveying of these felt as if the film didn’t have a single original thought starting with their characters, especially with the hip English astronomer and his vast knowledge of American and British pop culture. Yes, Jimmy Pond was struggling to humanize his captors, who supposedly hail from the planet Venus, with bad dancing, some romance, and an unquenchable yearning to be free, but the intention comes across technically clunky, delivered with no substantial soul. Other technicalities fair far better with great lighting to create an inauspicious atmosphere. Combine that with some solid performances from Jeremy Crutchley, Ina-Alice Kopp, and a frightening mechanical Jonah Blechman and the situation turns hopelessly weird.
Aside from Jason Duplissea making little less than a cameo, other characters quickly pop in and pop out of the story. Billy “Sly” Williams involvement lacked girth when his character Rondell sits rather very patiently through the weekend, waiting for Jimmy to call or pickup his cell. There’s no motivation other than sit and wait and call the police where the inept police department uses a machine instructs to leave a message of a crime being committed. When Rondell finally has the opportunity to do big things in order to assist Jimmy, another moment is zapped away without a trace. Like Williams, Jonathan Erickson Eisley’s Azarias had a brief scene shunted even more quickly away once introduced chained tightly bound in the house’s basement and at that precise moment, a window of opportunity cracks open to help clear up the baffling enigmas giving much puzzlement to Venus’s plan to take over or destroy mankind. Given his incarceration, we can assume Azarias is Jimmy’s equal, a previous captive with a failed outcome. Omit Williams and Eisley roles and the Brooks’s film prospers into comprehension that much more.
“Flytrap” is a festival winner – “Best Non-European Indie Feature at the European Independent Film Festival in France, Best Low Budget Feature at Worldfest Houston, Special Jury Prize at the Chelsea Film Festival as well as Best Feature, Best Supporting Actor (Jonah Blechman) and Best Ensemble at the Los Angeles Independent Film Festival” – but falls to captivate and entertain even if chocked full of shadowy undertones of paranoia and loneliness. Pond, Jimmy Pond – a Bond reference “Flytrap” also made – needed more development to sauté an emotionally motley character until he’s well burnt to an cracked crisp. There will be no critiques on the audio and video as the disc provided was a screener. Check this psychological sci-fi thriller on digital HD through Amazon Instant Video, Vudu, and iTunes.