Friday, 16 May 2014

Spare Parts (1979)

Perhaps watching more than half the films from this box set, plus all those Sci Fi Classics, has finally rotted my brain, but I quite enjoyed this film (which is known as Fleisch in its native German).  It's no masterpiece, but it's a competent enough 'it could happen to you' thriller.  It in some ways reminded of the low key menace of Ida Lupino's The Hitch-Hiker, though the plots are nothing alike.

Mike and Monica are poor newly weds on vacation in New Mexico.  They stop at a cheap motel - $7.50 for the night including coffee - and do what newlyweds do.  Later, they venture outside to watch the sunset.  As they do, however, an ambulance roars up.  Monica takes fright at the vehicle's strange behaviour and runs, while Mike goes to see what the paramedics want.

What they want is Mike and Monica.  They drug Mike and pursue Monica in their vehicle, but she loses them in the desert.  When she later returns to the motel, she quickly realises the owner is in cahoots with the strange ambulance, and escapes on foot.

Running along the highway, she manages to get a lift with a trucker named Bill.  He's initially sceptical of her story, but after a run-in with two supposed paramedics who claim to be searching for a woman who has escaped from the prison hospital, but whose story is less than convincing, he decides to help her find out what's going on, with a little help from his trucker buddies.

My favorite section of this movie is the middle half hour, where Monica and Bill establish a rapport and put a plan into action.  It's nice to see proactive, reasonably smart and thorough protagonists.  The last act probably doesn't quite live up to that, which is unfortunate, but it's still reasonably solid.  The script does neglect to give you a strong statement of motivation for one character's plot-changing decision, but they do hint at it and it's fairly easy to extrapolate.

Not a bad bit of low budget film, on the whole.  Worth a look if this kind of thriller is your bag, or if 'cult 70s German film' is the kind of thing to pique your interest.

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