Directed by: Thomas Dewier
Starring: Blake Bahner, Michael Williams, and Vicki Stephenson
“You live and you die and you make your mark” - Hillary
When film director Duncan Savage (Michael Williams, in his only credited role to date) takes his crew out to the California desert to shoot a low-budget movie, everything seems to be going according to plan. He even takes his daughter Kiersty (Vicki Stephenson, also her only role) along so she can see for herself the behind-the-scenes magic of moviemaking. Sure, there are the normal hiccups along the way, but nothing any of the experienced crew can’t handle. That is, until they run afoul of some baddies. Maybe the location scout should have known, but it seems the film crew has set up shop way too near the base of a gaggle of paramilitary nutjobs. When the two cross paths, a massacre ensues. Kiersty survives, and ends up being debriefed by a trio of government suits. As Kiersty recounts the tale of how she and a few other crew members survived in the nearby forest, we see how it all played out. This includes how they fended off a psycho named Hillary (Bahner, not the one you think). But what, exactly, is the CONTRA CONSPIRACY?
Contra Conspiracy (no “the”), is another pre-PM Pepin and Merhi production under their City Lights banner. All the names we’re so used to seeing in the credits are present and accounted for, from Charles Kanganis, the writer, to Addison Randall, a producer, to John Gonzalez, who did music, to name just a few. Anyone familiar with City Lights or PM will recognize not just these names, but also the style of what they’re watching. Contra Conspiracy starts off being pretty interesting and different, however. The first two thirds or so is a little more unorthodox, but then it settles into a fairly run of the mill wilderness slog.
Still, it’s better than Skinheads (1989), because Skinheads had so much more potential, and then squandered it on a standard “running away in the woods” plot. While he’s hardly a threat to Chuck Connors, Blake Bahner, Spyder himself, should be used to being in disappointing product - Blackbelt II (1989) anyone? Not a ton happens in this movie, so it runs out of any of the steam it built up initially at about the hour mark.
The paramilitary guys range from meatheady thugs to the classic “weak link” who feels bad for the film crew. Going for them, however, is the fact that they have a camouflage car. Sure, it’s the desert and the car is painted classic green camo, but hey...it may be a gigantic 1984 Buick, but it’s painted camo, so you WON’T SEE IT COMING. Pretty genius. But the good guys have plenty of tricks up their sleeves as well. In order to put the baddies off their trail, the special effects guy sprays fake blood all over the forest. The only problem: the bucket is emblazoned with, in large letters, the words “MOVIE BLOOD”. You’d think it would just say “Blood”. We assume they know they’re working on a movie.
Sure, there’s an effects-test blow up, and a car chase (a CAMOUFLAGE car chase) around the desert, but this is no Deadly Prey (1987). There are some interesting elements, but it’s far from a must-see. Plus, it left the biggest question unanswered: what’s the conspiracy behind up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A, B, A, select start? The movie was copyrighted 1988. Maybe it knows something we don’t.
Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty