The Running Man – tape 1853

Here’s an ITV presentation of the Arnold Schwarzenegger actioner The Running Man. I cann’t understand why TV companies were perfectly happy to have sponsor bumpers in completely the wrong aspect ratio.

Diet Pepsi sponsors movies on ITV

Naturally, although the bumper is letterboxed, the movie is full frame.

The Running Man was one of the many lesser action movies Arnie made. After all, not everything could be a Terminator or Predator. This is based on a novel by Stephen King, writing as Richard Bachman. It’s 2017, there are food riots, TV is controlled by the state, and the most popular show is a gladiatorial spectacle where people die. It felt so far away in 1987.

Arnie plays an ex-cop, falsely accused of killing hundreds of food rioters. Here is the kind of credit that didn’t seem odd in the 80s.

Mick Fleetwood Dweezil Zappa

 

Arnie breaks out of prison (with the help of Yaphet Kotto) but is apprehended when trying to leave the country, for crimes against fashion.

Crimes against fashion

There’s a lot of wit in the screenplay (courtesy of action movie maestro Steven E DeSouza). When he’s arrested again, and forced to compete in the Running Man TV show, he’s given a court appointed theatrical agent. The film might also be one of the first uses of the word ‘Edutainment’ only here it’s supposed to be satire.

The soundtrack is is all drum machines and DX7 bass, like virtually every other movie made in the 80s.

When the rebels take control of the network satellite to broadcast their expose of the network, I’m not sure this is exactly the right font to use if you want your message to be clear.

Killian is Lying To You

And to cap off all the mayhem, there’s even a heavy-power ballad from John Parr, co-written by Harold Faltermeyer.

After this, recording switches to Sky for an obscure item. The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom. It’s an HBO film, so presumably made for TV. Holly Hunter is as good as she usually is, as Wanda, a mother who’s just a little bit too obsessed with her daughter’s attempts to join the cheerleader squad, which process appears to involve a popular vote, amongst other elements. It’s a quirky semi-comedy in which Hunter asks a friend to set up a hit on a rival cheerleader or her mother, and the friend goes to the DA, who then record the conversations and then charge her for solicitation of murder. Then the story becomes national news, and the bidding war begins.

There’s the most meta scene imaginable when the supposed victim of the plot is talking to the screenwriter of the movie we’re watching (Jane Anderson playing herself) and asks who will play Wanda. When Anderson replies ‘Holly Hunter’ she says she’s all wrong, and she should cast Susan Lucci – one of the biggest stars of a daytime soap opera.

American courtroom artists can be at least as unflattering as British ones.

Courtroom artist

And this is the final caption.

No Spiders or Cheerleaders

After this, there’s the start of another film, Cowboys Don’t Cry. The tape stops about 40 minutes in.

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3 comments

  1. Always thought The Running Man was a more expensive version of those Italian sci-fi dystopias that clogged up the video store shelves in the 80s. I understand they’re remaking it, though I doubt they’ll make it more faithful to the King novel, it has an act of prophetic world changing terrorism for the ending committed by the hero.

    1. I watched it on TV when I was still living in Barbados, and some clueless person must have thought the stinger with the announcer wasn’t part of the movie, because they cut it off! Good grief…

  2. “The Positively True Adventures Of The Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom” also gets points for its end title song by Carly Simon’s sister Lucy, “Why Does There Have To Be A Song At The End?”

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