Disconnected 1983 Review
Directed by: Gorman Bechard
Starring: Frances Raines, Mark Walker, Carl Koch
Review by Luisito Joaquín González
Once again we’re in the realms of slasher movies that just about fit the guidelines of the group. As with The Shaman and Grotesque, Disconnected attempts to branch away from the hackneyed likes of The Prowler and Edge of the Axe without straying too far from the stalk and slash rulebook.
After the credits have rolled we meet Alicia (Francis Raines) the protagonist of the feature. On her way home from work one day she finds an elderly man hanging around mysteriously beside her apartment. Sympathetically she allows the stranger to come inside and use her phone, but whilst she’s making a cup of tea, he vanishes from her living room without trace. Later that night, Alicia tells her twin sister Barbara Ann (also Francis Raines) about the mysterious visitor, but she laughs it off telling her sibling that he probably just made a call and left suddenly. We soon learn that these twins don’t exactly see eye to eye, mainly because Barbara Ann keeps sleeping with Alicia’s boyfriends behind her back. Mike (Carl Koch) is the latest in the line of unfaithful partners to get the chop, not only for the aforementioned cheating, but presumably also because he has the worst case of ‘bad mullet syndrome’ that I have ever seen. Imagine a mid-eighties geek with a poodle on his head and you may be able to conjure up your own visual image.
Down in the dumps and on the rebound, Alicia meets up with a guy named Franklin (Mike Walker) and agrees to go out on a date with him. Franklin comes across as a polite fellow and he hides pretty well the fact that he loves nothing more than picking up promiscuous women, taking them back to his flat and then slaughtering them with the handy switch blade that he keeps in his bedside cabinet. Around the same time that Alicia meets this undercover maniac, she begins receiving bizarre and frankly quite credibly eerie persistent anonymous phone calls. As the bodies pile up around the city the Police get more and more baffled. Is Franklin the mysterious caller or is the petrified female just a little disconnected?
Disconnected is certainly an oddity of a feature. Almost as intriguing as it is bemusing, it will at times leave you staring at the screen in confusion. After the killer is revealed and dealt with half way through the runtime, the mystery is still un-resolved and to be honest the point of the story remains inconclusive to the viewer. Gorman Bechard’s direction will have you as baffled as the illogical plot line. 88 of the 90-minute runtime looks to have been shot and edited by a retarded gibbon, but then every once in a while he manages to pull off a standout shock sequence that feels out of place amongst the rest of the point and shoot mediocrity. The director’s obsession with wide, spacious and eminently dull backdrops is as tedious as staring at a blank screen and the chapters look to have been sewn together using a chainsaw and a tub of wallpaper paste.
The dramatics from the supporting actors are generally non-existent, but Francis Raines showed flashes of potential. OK, so she’s certainly no Merryl Streep. In fact come to think of it, she’s no Sharon Stone either; but for a breakout performance, I’ve certainly seen worse. She turned up again in the cycle providing the T&A in The Mutilator meaning that she had a short but fairly impressive spell in B movies and there’s no doubt that her sultry sexuality and intriguing presence helped her no end. One thing that is worth mentioning is the cheesy but still rather enjoyable soundtrack, which must have soaked up the majority of the minuscule budget. Look out for the hilarious nightclub scene, which in true slasher cheese on toast tradition shows us why the early eighties will always remain a bad disco memory to those that were alive and kicking at the time.
Bechard didn’t attempt to hide the fact that he was making a schlock-a-lock feature. One character says, “I feel like I’m stuck in a low budget horror film, because some man is going round killing young women!” Another character mentions something about nudity and violence and you can tell that the director knew exactly which audience he was aiming to satisfy. I guess in a way he succeeded, because for all its nonsensical and off the wall ramblings, Disconnected remains worth a watch. Yes it’s confusing, and yes it makes very little common sense; but as an authentic take on the slasher formula, there are poorer attempts floating about. The idea was obviously an ambiguous, surreal openness to the conclusion, but the ambition is ruined by a poor script and a clear lack of professionalism. What it did do though was manage something not many can achieve and that’s a few moments of truly eerie uneasiness. Track it down if you can find it.
Final Girl √√