... aka: Click
... aka: Click - O Retrato do Crime (Click: A Portrait of Crime)
... aka: Maniaco
Two directors. Two different directors of photography. SIX credited writers. A troubled production? From all indications, yes, yes and more yes. When you watch the film itself that becomes all too evident. The plot is disjointed, nonsensical and padded out with all kinds of extraneous nonsense, there are numerous dead end subplots and characters miraculously appear and then vanish for no real reason. Though I'm not entirely sure what happened here, online rumor has it that some of the actors (ones who were Screen Actors Guild members) had to be pulled from the production midway through the shoot because it was a non-union film. Having dual directors on one shoot isn't so uncommon but having two different DOPs (Thomas L. Callaway and Gary Graver) is a fairly strong indicator that at least two different shoots occurred at two different times.
A hefty nurse chastises a crying little boy and says his parents don't love or want him. We then cut to an adult male shaving his chest and putting on lipstick and a nurse's uniform before shattering a mirror with a knife. Hope you enjoyed that, because it's the last thing you'll see being stabbed for about an hour. We're next taken to poolside party to watch awful white people dancing and a female hair band performing a song called "Never Bored," which we soon find out is about the least appropriate theme song for this turkey. Bitter veteran model Nancy Johnson (Playboy Playmate and Andy Sidaris movie vet Dona Speir) arrives with some schmuck who immediately ditches her for another girl before the two accidentally knock Nancy into the hot tub. Frustrated and humiliated, it isn't long before Nancy, who prides herself on never doing nude work, is stripping to pose as Miss January in an upcoming nude centerfold calendar.
Alas, after around fifteen minutes are spent on the Nancy character, Speir is never to be seen again. However, the photographer who shoots her is. Jack Hackerman (co-director Hagen), "one of the hottest up-and-coming photographers in the business," is putting together a new creation called "Deadly Weapons," a calendar which will feature models brandishing a variety of firearms, swords, blowtorches, machetes and even chainsaws in grim scenarios involving rape or murder. Or as he calls it, "violent high fashion" that will appeal to "sick-o lawyers and politicians." Nudity-shy aspiring model Cindy (Keely Sims) gets hooked up with Jack and his crew, including Jack's weird assistant Alan (Troy Donahue), but she's having problems with her jealous / insecure boyfriend Johnny (Gregory Scott Cummins). While she attempts to pursue her dream of becoming a model, he begs her to stay home so he can take care of her, trails her everywhere and attempts to destroy any chance she has of having a career. Instead of getting a restraining order, Cindy just makes out with him a lot.
Along with a dozen or so other selected models, Cindy is invited to Jack's secluded ranch for a few days to take part in the "Deadly Weapons" photo shoot. Johnny follows them there on his motorcycle and ends up wrecking. Apparently impressed by either his terrible driving or felony-level stalking, Jack invites him to stay there and do a motorcycle stunt for one of the shots. Johnny makes it clear that he's only there to protect Cindy from the users, creeps and perverts who populate the modeling industry and may try to take advantage of his girl. However, seeing how just minutes after Cindy goes off to shoot he immediately starts making out with one of the others models perhaps he should be more concerned about his own behavior. And this guy is the film's HERO.
Speaking of the models, there are a few names of interest here to horror fans. The first is Susan Jennifer Sullivan, who played the uptight bitch Melissa in the seventh Friday the 13th entry and gets to play another uptight bitch named Lisa here. Sullivan had been erroneously reported as dead for a number of years (a "fact" that also was reported in the 5 1/2 hour retrospective documentary Crystal Lake Memories) despite not actually being dead. She simply got out of the industry, perhaps because she was sick of always being cast as an uptight bitch.
The second name is Juliette Cummins, who appeared in the fifth Friday the 13th entry as well as Psycho III and SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE II. Cummins stopped appearing in movies around the same time as Sullivan and for probably the same reasons. I'm sure by this point she was sick of doing the whole get-naked-then-get-killed routine as she's asked to do here yet again. She's not even listed in the credits of this one. However, unlike Sullivan, she at least has a few memorable moments. The best involve the photo shoots, one where Hagen chastises her for holding her gun "like a limp dick" and another where she's playing a cavegirl getting gang raped by cavemen (!!!) and sighs to Jack, "I think working for you is worse than getting raped!" Cummins also strips down to a thong and dances topless before her big death scene getting her throat cut in a bubble bath, so at least she ended her film career with a bang.
As previously mentioned, it takes nearly an hour for any of these oxygen thieves to die and it's decidedly not worth the wait as nearly every kill here is bloodless and every murder sequence is ineptly staged and directed. Most of the crew gets blown up in a van while trying to leave and there's also death by syringe, plastic wrap, hanging, strangulation and blowgun. One of the double murders is completely ruined due to a strobe light effect and we get one more flashback to the killer's childhood where the nurse catches him with a girlie magazine and warns "If I catch you lookin' at women again I will cut you to pieces!!"
Because co-director Stewart was a stunt man, he makes sure to throw in lots of brainless action. There are three motorcycle wrecks, a car crash / flip, a half dozen vehicles getting blown up, several fist fights and literally dozens of explosions during the big finale where the killer chases the two last survivors around with a flare gun spitting out embarrassingly awful one-liners. If only this were anywhere near as much fun as it sounds! Click doesn't even bother trying to have a plot until the last half hour and pads the rest of the time out with endless modeling sessions and a bunch of useless dialogue scenes featuring incredibly unlikable characters. The two leads are especially bad and their moronic relationship drama and constant bickering is truly insufferable.
Hagen also co-scripted and produced, along with his wife Claire Polan. Hoke Howell was another of the writers and appears in a useless role as a detective who's seen snooping around the ranch with a gun and camera. Other small roles are played by Jack Vogel (Demon Wind), Diana Karanikas (Dead Girls) and Playboy / Hot Body model Tracy Dali (Virgin High).
One of the last Crown International releases, this isn't difficult to find at all. It's part of Mill Creek's 32 movie set "Drive In Classics" and part of an 8 film set from BCI called "After Dark Thrillers." In other words, it's quite possible you will suffer through this one day if you haven't already. Best of luck!