Triskaidekafiles

Triskaidekafiles is a love letter to cheesy cinema from the 80s and 90s, with the occasional dip into other eras.  if you're a fan of MST3K, Elvira, Joe Bob Briggs, or just bad horror movies in general, Trisk is the place for you.

Panic (1982)

PANIC

WRITERS: Story and screenplay by Jaime Comas and Victor A. Catena

DIRECTOR: Anthony Richmond

STARRING: David Warbeck as Captain Kirk
    Janet Agren as Jane Blake
    Roberto Ricci as Professor Adams
    Jose R. Lifante as Sergeant O'Brien
    Jose Maria Labernie as Colonel Rudridge
    Franco Ressel as Mr. Milton

QUICK CUT: When a professor gets lost on a fishing trip, a man is called in to find him, as an entire community worries and unravels because of his absence.

THE MORGUE

    Kirk - A military man, who knows how to get things done, but also an understanding sort, and not willing to sacrifice people for the greater good.

    Jane - An assistant in the lab where things go wrong.

    O'Brien - A local policeman who gets dragged into things.

    Adams - Very little is known about him before he gets turned into a zombie.  He likes fishing!

 ...at the Movies.

...at the Movies.

THE GUTS: Welcome back, Triskelions!  I'm taking it easy in September, and grabbed something randomly from the pile of 50 pack movies, called Panic.  And bonus, if that doesn't ring a bell, you might know it as one of the many "Zombie" movies.  Heck, you might know it as one of the many movies named Zombie 3!  Take my bit of advice, don't look into the "Zombie" series.  The numbers are made up and make no sense.

Anywho, Panic kicks off with mice getting into a fight, but despite all their rage...ahem.  This is apparently bad, and Jane calls in an alert to clean things up due to risk of contamination.

Men in suits rush in to take care of the potential outbreak or whatever, but not before we see some guy screaming with a melting face.

 Hey man, need a tissue?

Hey man, need a tissue?

After the accident, Jane and Vince present their report to the administrators, and everyone more or less agrees to sweep it under the rug.  No need to *ahem* Panic the populace with their unregulated experiments, and it was contained, so let's just cover up the whole affair and keep quiet!  That can't possibly come back to bite us in the brain!

Since that's all well in hand, we follow a young couple, sneaking off to have an affair of their own, but that gets shortly interrupted when Zombie Adams bashes into the car window, drags Lucas out and kills him.  Betty tries to escape, but the cameraman makes her scream and we cut away.  It's later confirmed she's dead.

So yeah, great job at containing that infection guys, top notch!

 Oh, the 80s...

Oh, the 80s...

Apparently the infected dude was Professor Adams, and he's gone missing...but that's not unheard of, as he likes to pull a Jack O'Neill and go fishing all the time.

The government wants to make sure everything is fine at the chemical plant, and send over Captain Kirk to check things out and look for Adams, because he is responsible for 430 crewmembers aboard his ship, mister!

While Kirk starts investigating, the local cops find the dead bodies of the couple, so this is gonna get out sooner or later...

Kirk and Jane head over to Adams' home to see if he might be there, because logic.  But all his fishing gear is still there, but they do point out his military jacket is missing so if this was in better quality, you could identify him...and they also find a dead body.

Back at the lab, Kirk is thinking the disappearance, Henry doing his best impression of the hanged man, and the random murders are all connected.  No real reason, save for why not?

Kirk is then introduced to Sargeant O'Brien and oh come on, how do you not expect me to make Star Trek jokes??

The group meet to discuss their findings, and the movie cuts RAPIDLY from face to face to face and back.  SLOW DOWN!  Editing bad.  Here, have a gif of it, in just as close to real time.

PanicCap_00004.gif

One of the other scientists comes in with a report that the computer churned through with all their available data to tell them the results of Adams' experiments are...inconclusive.  Thanks for telling us NOTHING.

So they decide to start a manhunt for Adams, since there isn't much time what with him being infected and all, and this could spread rapidly.  I guess.  Things being inconclusive allow them to be pretty damned vague.

Elsewhere in the city, Adams is crashing into someone's house to pull a Psycho on a poor girl in the shower.  So, he's largely gonna be a faceless, personalityless killer who kills randomly.  Great.

 Mother, no!

Mother, no!

Fortunately, Adams is leaving 'green stuff' at the various crime scenes, so they can connect them that way.  Also, there's hardly any blood at either of the crime scenes.  So either the killer is a neat freak or...or...HE'S A VAMPIRE WITH A HEAD COLD!

With all the weirdness with the green stuff, the wounds being animal like, and there being strange burns that could be a reaction to the snot, or maybe radiation, the medical examiner concludes the killer must be a mutant.

Sigh.  Once again, mutants getting a bad rap by a world that hates and fears them.

A group of doctors meet to confer about their own findings, and report back to the head of the Colonel Rudridge.  They've found a virus, and they declare it to be indestructible and very dangerous.  We don't know WHY it's dangerous, since no one ever says.  I mean, yes, Adams is melting all over town and killing people, but it seems pretty handleable so far.

 A group of old white men deciding the fate of a town?  That never ends well.

A group of old white men deciding the fate of a town?  That never ends well.

Once the doctor reports his findings and buggers off, the colonel and friend discuss things further and decide they must scrub the Floromer plan, and enact PLAN Q!

NO!  NOT PLAN Q!!  ...What's a Plan Q?

The military starts rolling into Newton, and I start to have flashbacks to A*P*E.  Fortunately, it's nowhere near as long or repetitive.  For now, it looks like the town is going to be placed under quarantine, to stop anything from spread.  Which it has completely failed to do, so no worries.

With the military moving in, they start to clamp down on everything, from the media, to taking out the phone lines, and making sure no word spreads.  Which is spreading better than the virus, I must say...

Also, Kirk gets authorised to use his gun, if need be, to stop things from getting worse.  There is a LOT of talk about the lethality of this virus, but I just am not seeing it.  For a zombie apocalypse, this is pretty tame.  It's one guy!

 Oi, this ain't no TARDIS...

Oi, this ain't no TARDIS...

Kirk and O'Brien track Adams into the sewers, which makes sense for him staying out of sight.  Adams isn't too far ahead, and comes up in a theatre to wreak some havoc.

Adams is behind the movie screen, in the stage area, and as the music gets annoying, he starts trashing the place.  Look, dude, if you don't like the movie just leave, no need to make a scene!

He finally tears through the screen, causing a *ahem* Panic at the theatre, and everyone runs out, save for the one woman he grabs and kills.

 The Panic of the Opera is here...inside your screen...

The Panic of the Opera is here...inside your screen...

The cops arrive, too late, and after all this talk of how deadly and dangerous the virus is, Kirk points at one of the theatre seats with a smear of blood on it and goes, "Look, blood!  *touchtouchtouch!"  And then makes it worse when they poke and grab the dead girl in the back.

Outside, the panicked theatre goers are demanding an explanation, but the cops are just doing their usual, nothing to see here, move along, head home, la la la!

The noose tightens more around the city, so now the citizens are trapped in their with the killer, and eventually Adams heads over the church to make his confession, or kill more people.

As the priest does his best to protect the children and keep them safe, Adams brays like a donkey outside, and smashes the occasional window.  Eventually Adams breaks in, and grabs one of the escaping kids.  The priest grabs a candle and burns the monster, and gets killed for it, sacrificing himself to buy the children time.

 CAP: Here's...he...here's Jo...hold on a sec, I almost got this...

CAP: Here's...he...here's Jo...hold on a sec, I almost got this...

Meanwhile, the people are getting restless and dangerous, getting ready to go at the soldiers maintaining the roadblocks and...sigh.

This seems like an awful big to-do over one guy killing a handful of people.  There doesn't seem to be a viral spread, like a zombie outbreak.  I get wanting to stop him, but all this talk of the unprecedented Plan Q, going on about the virus, worried about panicing the townsfolk...it all seems largely unwarranted.  Maybe have him infect a few others, you don't need much!  Just enough to get the idea that yeah, this is gonna spread.

Also, it would've been nice to meet the pre-infected Adams, so maybe we gave a crap about who he was and what he's become.  The movie so far is largely missing chunks of stuff that would make a perfectly fine idea better and make sense.

We get a confrontation between the military and the townsfolk, and you can assume where that goes, as the roadblocks stay intact.

 Telegram!

Telegram!

Adams busts in on the government official we've been following most of the movie, gets shot at, and keeps on a-comin' so he kills the Milton.

Back at the lab, they're doing experiments on the guinea pig that was also infected during the accident, and they even outright say, "Isn't Adams the only person infected?"  Then what's the worry??  He's been growling and killing for a few days now.  I know there's incubation periods, but c'mon.

Kirk decides the only solution is to kill Adams, which...duh.  Kill the only one infected, and stop Plan Q.

He tracks the doctor back to the theatre, and finds the body of the British Buck Flower he killed...er, drunk wino.  Kirk also finds the mutant as they have a bit of a fight.

 It's like fighting the Gorn all over again!

It's like fighting the Gorn all over again!

But now that they've found his sewer subway system, they start to close off all the entrances, blocking him in, and limiting his avenues of escape.  "There's no way he can get out of here, you can be sure of that!"

Mmm, tasty tasty hubris.

Meanwhile, a plane is taking off to take care of the town and...NUKING THE TOWN FROM ORBIT SEEMS OVERLY EXCESSIVE!!  As I have laid out before.  If you're gonna go THERE, you gotta earn it.  This is the equivalent of bombing Boston because of a strangler.

So they have a cure, but it won't be ready before the bombs drop, and Kirk heads off to take care of the doctor.

 Kirk.  Captain Kirk.

Kirk.  Captain Kirk.

Down in the sewers, Adams is getting angry at all his doors being bricked up, and he wasn't even promised a cask of amontillado for it.

As the plane draws closer and gets ready to dive into the town, Kirk and O'Brien stalk around down in the sewers as gas is used to flush out Adams.

The gas is starting to get to be too much for most of the cops, leaving only the two guys who got credit in the opening titles to remain.  Even though one of them was JUST shown smoking, so you'd think he'd have a harder time!

 Still better lit than AVPR...barely.

Still better lit than AVPR...barely.

And surprise!  Jane snuck down there too, since she's sure she can help the doctor without killing him, despite being told to stay at the lab.  She offers him the cure, and he begs for her to kill him, and then help him once she explains she can try and help him.

Oh, and the radios the cops are using to coordinate in the sewers are having trouble all of a sudden, just so they can ramp the tension up that tiny bit more when they kill Adams and try to contact the plane before it destroys them all.

Which is exactly what happens when Kirk shows up to bugger the attempts to cure, and angry, crazed Adams attacks.  O'Brien barges in, sees the attack, assumes the worst and fires.  They blast the guy with a fire extinguisher a few times and...that works?  Okay.

 You are one ugly motherfucker...

You are one ugly motherfucker...

As the movie nears its conclusion, it actually puts up a ticking clock, and it's one of the worst ones.  Because it's the time, and all you see is hours and minutes.  I can see where the seconds SHOULD be, just off the screen, so this might be more effective in widescreen.

But knowing things are going to go to hell at 4:50 when the pilots bail out so the plane can crash and destroy the town...it kinda neuters any tension when the only thing you see moving is the minutes.

However, Kirk gets to a phone, and calls in that the doctor is dead Jim, and the pilots are notified.  They laugh in relief that they won't be murdering an entire town.  I understand that kind of reaction, but at the same time...

The only way that could have gone worse is if they freeze framed the laugh.  This WAS the 80s, after all.

 AND KEEP WATCHING THE SEWERS.

AND KEEP WATCHING THE SEWERS.

AUTOPSY REPORT

Video: Well, it's a 50 Packer so it doesn't look great.  The blacks are grey, the colours are washed out, and if this had been widescreen, the tension might have been more effective in the end.

Audio: Not great.  Half of it sounds overdubbed, and probably is, on top of being a cheap transfer.

Body Count: For one guy, Adams does a fair job, although still not a big enough one to sacrifice an entire town.

1 - Eight minutes in and ascot man Lucas gets killed and yanked out a car window
2 - Betty dies off screen
3 - Dead Henry dangling around
4 - Woman dies in the shower.
5 - Dead body at the theatre
6 - Dead priest on some spikes
7 - Kills the government dude.
8 - Kills the bum
9 - Professor Adams gets extinguished.  FIRE extinguished.

Best Corpse: I'm kinda partial to the sudden randomness of yanking Lucas out of the car at the start.

Blood Type - C: It's got some blood here and there, but a lot of it is hidden or off screen, and the creature effects are okay.

Drink Up! Every time Adams kills someone.

Video Nasties: A short bit of the final confrontation, with some fun pulsing makeup effects.

Movie Review: I can see the germs of a good idea or two in there.  I mentioned a few times how they needed to do MORE.  They really needed to sell the ideas better, to really make things work.  It's not terrible in the ideas department, but it needed a lot more work, and more meat to the idea.  Even just one more infected.  Warbeck is pretty good in his role as Kirk, and he makes the most of the role.  Adams is largely an unknown with no rhyme or reason to his actions.  A lot of missed opportunities, that could have been much more with minimal effort.  Not even being a hasty Italian/Spanish cashin creation could save it.  Two out of five melting faces.

Entertainment Value: It's not the most entertaining movie, but it has its moments.  The overdubbing is fun as always, the low budget nature, the kills are fun, the jump from "someone died...DESTROY THE TOWN!" is mind bogglingly sudden, and I love it.  The worst thing is, other movies do almost every bit of fun here, better.  Three out of five crashing planes.