Fever – 80’s Aussie Noir

Sometimes we find hidden treasures on VHS at Goodwill. This is the case with 1988’s “Fever,” a 1988 film noir from Australia that unexpectedly impresses. To fully appreciate it, you have to know that it is a remake of “Diabolique,” the classic French movie about 2 women who kill an abusive man. Or do they? In this movie, an honest cop (played by the great Bill Hunter) finds drug money and is promptly murdered by his wife and lover. Or is he?

This movie is good because it takes all the film noir clichés and transplants them to 1988 Australia. This film portrays Australia as a desolate place and so it becomes easy to understand why the characters want a way out. As the double-crosses and shootouts ensue, it becomes easy to get swept up in it because it is done really well.

Overall I really enjoyed the rad Australian desert setting of the car chase scenes. The love triangle in the film was sleazy, but memorable, as the cop comes home and finds his wife in bed with a stranger. The husband gets hit on the head, and assumed to be dead for most of the entire film – before popping up suddenly from the trunk at the end. Australian movies from the 80s and 90s always seemed to gave the right amount of boob action, didn’t they??

At the center of it all is the late and great Bill Hunter, a legendary Australian actor who has been in more than 50 films, including “Strictly Ballroom,” “The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert,” “Muriel’s Wedding,” and “Finding Nemo.” As a tough but honest cop, he provides us with a center for all the mayhem. “Fever,” which inexplicably went direct-to-video, is a thriller worth finding.

I Love Heartbeeps

Do you like robots? Also, have you ever wondered what a movie starring Andy Kaufman would be like? Then look no further than “Heartbeeps,” a futuristic science fiction romantic comedy about two robots in love. Played by Andy Kaufman and Bernadette Peters, these robots have wandered away from home, and they fall in love while taking in their new surroundings. There is also a stand-up comedian robot and a “baby” robot, the latter of which is voiced by Jerry Garcia. Randy Quaid appears as a man trying to bring the robots home. With remarkable, Oscar nominated makeup effects by Stan Winston and a terrific electronic score by John Williams, this 1981 sleeper you’ve never heard of is a precursor to “E.T.” Derided as a flop (by Andy Kaufman himself!) but available on widescreen DVD, this film by Alan Arkush (“Rock and Roll High School”) is far better than “Short Circuit” and way ahead of its time. Prepare to laugh and be amazed by this crazy cult flick!