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Pushing Up Daisies
(a.k.a. Five Minutes of Freedom &
Five Minutes to Freedom)
(1974)
 

Director: Ivan Nagy                                   
Cast:
Ross Hagen, Kelly Thordsen, Hoke Howell


I've reviewed my share of bad movies, and of all kinds. There have been interesting failures, bad but not completely worthless, the just plain bad, and movies like Amanda and the Alien, Manson, Hot Chili, and Fallen Knight. But even with the lowest of the low, it was always clear what kind of  movies the makers of the movies were trying to make. Also, it was always clear why they had make these movies - to entertain people by giving them some thrills, or laughs, or something else. With the movie Pushing Up Daisies, though, we come up with a new kind of movie. No, it isn't the worst movie in the world, or really one of the worst. Pushing Up Daisies is a movie that, for the life of me, I can't figure out why this movie was made. Yes, certainly the makers of the movie wanted to make a few bucks. But from who? The movie doesn't seemed aimed at any specific demographic. There's action, but not enough to make it an action movie for audiences wanting a slam-bang time. There's comedy, but not enough to make it a comedy for audiences wanting a laughfest. There's no real progression with the characters, so it isn't a drama. And the story itself progresses in a way that could be summed up as, "The characters go here, then there, and they travel across that area, and they end up there. Oh yeah, the end." This movie seems to have been made with no possible audience in mind.

The movie centers around four small-time criminals who have been working on a streak of petty robberies. What do we find out about them? Well, there's Maddux (Hagen, who also wrote the script), the leader, who's a former Green Beret. And there's...well, to be honest, I never caught the names of the other three gentlemen. Nor did I find out anything about their lives, except for they are angry that their exploits haven't gotten their pictures in the newspapers. They pull off a robbery dressed as nuns, and two of them are captured. After a lengthy segment portraying their suffering on a chain gang, the other two gang members come along, blow away the guards, and rescue the two. As two of them get into an argument concerning butter verses margarine that almost becomes Tarentinoish, Maddux starts to tell them about the big score he has planed. But instead of being interested in this plan (which isn't revealed to us until it actually happens), I was wondering: What was the point of that beginning robbery and the subsequent breakout sequence, if it has nothing to do with the rest of the movie?

The rest of the movie concerns the execution of this "big score", and then pretty much nothing else happens in the way of story for the last half-hour or so. For that half-hour, we are treated to regular bouts of weirdness, like their encounter with the members of a Mexican family, who are all fast talkers (Mexicans speak funny, don't they!), dubbed-in crowd cheering and yelling when the men are shown a parade of hookers, the song "Over Hill, Over Dale," played at random moments, and general mindless chatter. And so on.

It's no weirder than what's seen in the first hour or so. The opening credits (12 minutes into the movie), play over a weird sequence made up of still pictures and echoy dialogue, for no apparent reason. There's a heavy metal rendition of "Amazing Grace". Countless music montages made up with jaw harps and/or foot stomping, sometimes played so loud that the audio of the dialogue uttered at these moments has to be cranked up. And so on.

This is one strange film. The technical aspects just add to the general weirdness. The voices sound muffled, as if the speakers were gagged. There's apparently no steadicam, for scenes in vehicles cause the camera to shake up and down violently. Many scenes photograph the actors at some distance from the camera. Editing frequently is jarring, with scenes suddenly cut to an end seconds before properly being played out. And so on.

Is there anything of merit to be said about Pushing Up Daisies? Well, there are several shoot-out sequences which have a good deal of zip and excitement, especially with the editing suddenly taking a turn for the better with these sequences. I also find deserts very scenic, and this movie took place smack dab in the American southwest. In a movie like this, you're especially thankful of small blessings like that. Actually, though I don't think Pushing Up Daisies is anywhere near a good movie, there was a part of me that enjoyed watching it. This movie popped up one night unannounced on a private TV station in my area, and watching it was like unearthing something long lost. For me, it was fun wondering about why this was made, for who, and what the people making this movie went through. So although the movie is pointless, it was interesting to think about those things while watching it. Of course, this is just me, and I rightly suspect other people will correctly label it a boring piece of crap.

But...I also wonder with a movie this obscure, and only popping up occasionally on late-night TV, if anyone else will see it. Though this page is called The Unknown Movies, virtually all these movies have fairly easy access for curious viewers. I wonder if there's any point in writing a review for a movie like this, which maybe no one else will ever see. Oh well. It's an unknown movie, so I won't treat it any differently. However, if you, dear reader, have seen this movie, I'd love to hear from you.

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Also: Didn't You Hear, Overkill, The Wild Wild World Of Batwoman

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