Friday, November 18, 2011

ACCIDENTS (1989) - an unlikely sci-fi terrorist plot thwarted by a scientist with an unlikely and unfortunate hairstyle

The mullet rarely works, but when it does, it really fucking works. It’s the perfect hairstyle for a 6’4’’ hockey goon from Ottawa, and Dalton from Road House just wouldn’t be the same without his patented mane. However, for every Martin Riggs from Lethal Weapon, there are a thousand mulleted meatheads out there with follicles to horrify the retinas of humanity. A bad mullet is a hairstyle not to be taken seriously, and this can spill over to the man himself. Take, for example, scientist Eric Powers, star of Accidents. I cannot take any of his scientific discoveries seriously because of the mullet. A scientist should no doubt be business in the front, but that much party in the back can only lead to trouble. If you party that much on your off hours and show up to the lab hungover the next morning, no doubt your data is going to suffer.

Also, it’s hard to take a scientific discovery seriously when it’s a little piece of plastic. You see, Mr. Powers has created an anti-terrorist weapon that looks like a model kit UFO that is operated by remote control. As he explains to his daughter, the thing shoots lasers that screw with the electromagnetic fields in someone’s brain and they blow up (it’s an “amplified brainscan system”). If this description seems obtuse to certain viewers, they show the scientists testing the weapon on a mouse wearing one of those little metal helmets that they hook electrodes up to. That way, they can record data when the mouse’s head starts sparking, in order to find out what happens scientifically speaking right before it blows up.

Of course, Powers finds out that his secret terrorist-fighting project is being sold to…TERRORISTS! I guess they put in a higher bid. Anyway, we know this because the main official of the project is seen sitting on a park bench with a shady looking guy with a shady sounding accent. Just remember; if you ever see an older white man in a suit whispering quietly to a Middle Eastern or Eastern European guy with a beard, there are either state secrets being sold, or someone’s ass is getting assassinated. You know what, I just realized that the word “assassinated” begins with the word “ass” repeated twice. That’s amazing.

Anyway, people who know too much are being murdered, and Powers is thrust into a conspiracy. His best friend and fellow researcher leaves a worrisome message on his answering machine that “sounds like a Woody Allen monologue” (this was back in the day when people made fun of Woody Allen for his neuroticism rather than because he boinked his stepdaughter). Soon after, he steps in his jacuzzi at home and is mysteriously electrocuted. Nobody finds it strange that he is magically electrocuted just by dipping his toes in some water, but Powers does connect the phone call with the murder and he becomes suspicious. Later, another guy with knowledge of the project is driving along minding his own business when the little saucer magically appears hovering above the car and shoots a laser through the windshield and into his brain (or whatever it does).

Now, I’m probably putting too much thought into this (i.e. any thought), but why use the secret undercover weapon to kill people that know too much about the secret undercover weapon? Why not just hire a vaguely European goon (not to be confused with a hockey goon, since Canadians draw the line at murder) to shoot these guys? The weapon could be damaged or noticed by someone or even stolen in the process. Also, how is this thing supposed to stop terrorism? Maybe you can find out where the terrorist lives and sit outside in the bushes and try to remote control the saucer into the house and into the guy’s bedroom and shoot him with a laser. That’s a whole lot of trouble when you can just launch a missile from above and nuke the guy’s house. It’s not like the U.S. military is above blowing up a terrorist's house, no matter who else is inside.

The other thing is that this little saucer just seems to shoot a laser at people, and I don’t see what is so special about that. Maybe that was a bit cutting edge for 1989, but it even pales in comparison to a similar laser in the film Real Genius, released 4 years prior. That laser could nuke an exact site from space using a satellite tracking system, which is balls out more impressive than a little remote control piece of plastic that looks like a NES accessory.

Speaking of which, do you remember that scene in Real Genius where the kids sit at a restaurant table in celebrations of having completed building the laser? They made the laser cannon thing out of a love for science, but it dawns on them that the laser was going to be used as a destructive force. Apart from the two ridiculous murders early on and the lame shoot out at the end, Accidents is basically that scene drawn out to 80 minutes, only without the fun nerdy characters and the Val Kilmer wisecracks. Marry that to a soul-curdling synth score and you have a conspiracy movie where the real conspiracy is that it conspires to bore you. That’s as close as I’ll get to Gene Shalit folks.

P.S. This was written as part of "Project Terrible" over at Mondo Bizarro. Check it out!


  1. Aww. I was really hoping this would have way more infuriating bullshit twists than it sounds like it did. Still, at least it was boring and rather stupid, so mission partially accomplished!

  2. @Wolf
    This might have been my least favorite Project Terrible movie so far. I think I've lucked out overall, because at least there was some silliness with the weapon.