Monday, August 3, 2009

Wings Hauser Retrospective (2009)


[Catalogue notes for a Melbourne Underground Film Festival retrospective, August 2009]

“Reality can be boring. I like to put a little turbo power into my performance.”

Born Gerald Dwight Hauser, “Wings” earned his moniker on the gridiron field and was set to be either a pro footballer or rock crooner before settling on acting. A five year stint on hit soap The Young And The Restless led the ambitious Wings to the lead role in the low-budget B actioner Vice Squad (1982); he was disturbingly believable as the whore-whipping pimp Ramrod, and similar asshole roles followed, as did off-set stories of Wings' violent, alcohol and cocaine-fuelled misadventures. Settling down somewhat with partner Cali, the Hausers eventually formed their own indie filmmaking company with Wings directing the idiotic Skins (1994) amongst other low-budget action fare. Still a familiar face on network TV and direct-to-DVD features, he's most fondly remembered by trash fanatics in his iconic Eighties video store essentials, Vice Squad and Deadly Force (1983) included, in which his rule as King Asshole was unquestioned. We at MUFF are proud to present for your edification:

Deadly Force (1983)

Director Paul Aaron Writers Ken Barnett, Robert Vincent O'Neill

Cast Wings Hauser, Joyce Ingalls, Paul Shenar, Al Ruscio

“When the cops won't, and the courts can't...Stoney Cooper will give you justice!” Riding the crest of Wingsmania after Vice Squad (1982), Deadly Force returns Hauser to the junky-lined, hooker-heavy streets of LA, this time as NYC cop Stoney Cooper, avenging his best friend's granddaughter's death at the hands of the omnipresent “X Killer”.Naturally Stoney's a loose cannon happy to wave his gun at a mobster or millionaire while leaving a trail of bullet-riddled bodies behind him. If this sounds like a tenth-rate Dirty Harry knockoff, don't fret; it's 100% pure and joyous Eighties pulp, an ultra-violent, cartoonish revenge fantasy dripping with Hauser's ludicrous tough-guy dialogue courtesy of Vice Squad's writer and B-veteran Robert Vincent O'Neill (Wonder Women, the Angel series).

The Siege Of Firebase Gloria (1989)

Director Brian Trenchard-Smith

Cast R. Lee Ermey, Wings Hauser, Robert Arevalo, Mark Neely

Once again the Philippines doubles for the Ho Chi Minh Trail in a war actioner much-praised but little seen since its release. Aussie-based genre specialist Trenchard-Smith (The Man From Hong Kong, Turkey Shoot) distils the Vietnam War to a tense Cowboys vs Injuns scenario, with R. Lee Ermey, fresh from his iconic appearance in Full Metal Jacket, and a clearly off-kilter 2IC (Hauser) on one side of the fort, and the Cong led by a sympathetic Colonel (veteran Filipino actor Robert Arevalo) on the other. Taut direction, claustrophobic action with more-than-regulation explosions, and the powerhouse performances of Ermey and Hauser make Siege... one of the undisputed classics of the Eighties' Namsploitation cycle.

Skins (1994)

aka Gang Boys, Gang Boyz

Director Wings Hauser Writers Maria Dylan, Wings Hauser

Cast Wings Hauser, Linda Blair, Cole Hauser, Talbert Morton

A Hauser Family vanity affair featuring Wings – also on board as co-writer, producer AND director - as an alcoholic father uniting his family AND the Crips and Bloods against a neo-Nazi gang of gay-bashing rapists. A total misfire on all counts featuring Wings' son Cole, wife Cali (wisely hiding in the credits as “Dafna Galili”), Linda Blair wondering at which point her career went to the dogs, and a ghastly Eighties B film soundtrack which at no point sounds inappropriate, as the whole sordid mess feels about ten or fifteen years too late. Needless to say, no Wings Hauser Retrospective should be without this hilarious, first-class howler.

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