DEAD EASY (1982)

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Georgie (Burgess) is a low-level grifter working as part of a criminal family’s operation. Introduced strutting down the seedy city streets like John Travolta’s younger brother (much of the fashion in the film seems straight outta the ‘70s) he’s the type of guy everyone in the business knows.  Georgie’s got a thing for Alex, a hooker who isn’t sure about him at all. When a rival firm firebombs the brothel Alex works at and Georgie is able to identify him to his bosses, things start to look up for him.

Georgie is given the task of reopening a nightclub which he will now manage. At the same time, he runs into a young cop, Armstrong (McKenzie), trying to make his name. When Armstrong tries to ruin Georgie’s opening night it kicks off a wider chain of events that will eventually find Georgie, Alex and Armstrong on the run from both firms seeking to kill them.

If that synopsis suggests a fairly straightforward film ahead it’s only because the opening 20 minutes or so play out as a gritty low-rent gangster film, with influences more along the lines of Mean Streets.  Then it takes the first sharp turn and shifts into a romantic comedy before all of a sudden we’re in junkie-going-cold-turkey territory. If that’s not your thing, don’t worry, it’s not done yet.

We can only assume that when funding was agreed for Dead Easy, director Bert Deling and his crew thought let’s try and cram in as much stuff as possible in the hope we can get as many people in the seats as possible.  Or maybe they figured they might not get the chance to make a movie again so why not tick off every box on their films-we’d-like-to-make list.

It’s a mess, then; shouldn’t possibly work as a film. And in reality, it doesn’t. Georgie and Alex seem like characters from two different films working at odds and their relationship never really convinces. Armstrong goes from bumbling constable to action man in a second. Dead Easy hops from genre to genre in an almost wilfully absurd way. It rarely makes a lick of sense. But there’s something almost hypnotic about it as it does so. For those that enjoy Ozploitation cinema it’s not particularly garish, nor is it gory or anything like that. It’s more that it’s such a strange, odd little film that whilst objectively not very good by most standards is so likeably baffling it’s entertaining for that in and of itself.

DEAD EASY (1982) / CERT: TBC / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: BERT DELING / STARRING: SCOTT BURGESS, ROSEMARY PAUL, TIM MCKENZIE, MAX PHIPPS / RELEASE DATE: TBC

 


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