Dec 25, 2019

Night of the Wilding (1990)

The Central Park 5 case happened in the spring of 1989; so, "wilding" was still the media's favorite fear to sell the public by the time this film came out.  It seems like a TV movie, and certainly would fit the mold with a lengthy courtroom battle, a former celeb (Eric Estrada) and a topic "ripped from the headlines".  But this has some graphic content which seems highly out of place; let's have a look.

 Three delinquents, from left: Martin (Charlie Ganis), Allen (Robert Dickey) and the ringleader Paul (Joey Travolta).

 Paul goes into a grocery store to pick up some beer and smokes.

The way Joey Travolta struts through this store, you'd think he was trying to emulate his brother in the Saturday Night Fever opening.

 Paul brings his beer to the counter, but just fucks with the cashier, Betty (Julie Austin), instead of actually paying for his stuff.  This guy is immensely annoying to watch.

 Betty calls for security.  Actress Julie Austin was only in a few films, but is well remembered nonetheless.  How can we forget her performances in Elves and Fatal Exposure?

 When Betty gets home from work, she finds a small surprise birthday party waiting for her.

The thoughtful party was the work of Betty's roommate Doris (Carol Cummings) and Doris' boyfriend Bill (Joe Verroca),

 Betty gets changed from work.  "Not bad for 25" she says to the mirror.

 Betty takes a shower.

 While Betty showers, the three assholes arrive, claiming to be friends of Betty. 

 Doris suspects something's not quite right, but let's them in anyway.

 Paul wastes no time in stirring up shit.  He starts busting up the place with his baseball bat, then beats the shit out of Bill.

 They hold Doris down onto the table and rape her.

 An unexpectedly graphic and horrifyingly realistic scene. 

 Betty is still showering.  Finally, we see the delinquents bust into the bathroom, but we're spared the visuals of what follows.

 The case goes to trial. Marion (Kathrin Middleton) is the prosecutor and Joseph (Erik Estrada) defends these three rapist assholes.

 Turns out, Marion and Joseph were once married - so this adds a layer of drama to the mix.... boring drama, but drama nonetheless.

 The film takes us very methodically Law & Order style through the whole process.  Here, we witness jury selection.

One of the juror candidates is Sally (Stacey Upton), who says she's a porn star. 

 The three rapist delinquents fight among themselves - with Allan sweating that he doesn't want to go to prison.

 Joseph does a good job of making Doris appear to be a wild slut to the jury.

 Marion and Robert (Robert Gallo) don't want the same thing to happen to Bill - so they give him some coaching to prepare him for what Joseph may bring his way.

 But Joseph is still able to make Bill look like an amoral piece of shit to the jury.   By the way, Bill's full name is said to be Bill Paxton.  That would've been great to have Chet in this role.

 A lot of screen time is devoted to the war between Joseph and Marion outside the courtroom. 

 Paul takes matters into his own hands and murders Betty.  Waiting for her in the closet, he shoots her in the stomach through a pillow to muffle the noise.

 He also kills his two accomplices. 

 This is not only the best scene in this movie - it may be the best scene in any movie.  Paul is being chased by Joseph (after he attempts to kill Marion).  It causes a car wreck... and this car literally flies over the backfield fence!

 Holy shit, are you kidding me?

 Joseph catches up to Paul and straight up murders his ass - holding his face down with his foot at the bottom of a pool.

Joseph is found not guilty for killing Paul in a totally separate trial (which weirdly has some of the same jurors).  It ends on a very strange note with Joseph and Marion just sitting on a park bench saying absolutely nothing. THE END

I guarantee you'll lose interest during the long courtroom drama and lame ex-husband/wife conflict.  However, the beginning and end are pretty damn incredible.  Starting with a great scene in the grocery store, a shower from Julie Austin, then the truly horrific home invasion -  then ending with Paul's rampage and a car crash that will simply never be topped.


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