Directed by Mark G. Gilhuis and written by Philip Yordan, Bloody Wednesday is a thriller/horror based on the events of the San Ysidro McDonald’s massacre.
I only discovered afterwards that Bloody Wednesday was based on a true story. It doesn’t change my opinion of the movie but it does make the final 5-10 minutes of the movie all the more disturbing.
If you don’t know, the San Ysidro McDonald’s massacre was a shooting that occurred in 1984. James Huberty killed 21 people, both adults and children and injured 19 more before he was shot dead by a SWAT sniper. One of the deadliest mass shootings in American history.
You’re probably already thinking that such a tragedy should never have been inspiration for a movie. Especially so soon after the events, being released in 1987, just three years later.
However up until the final 10 minutes, there is little of note in Bloody Wednesday. What we have is poorly shot, poorly acted rip-off of The Shining and then we reach the finale and things get real. Far too real.
However, before that…
Harry Curtis (Raymond Elmendorf) is losing his mind. His mental health is deteriorating resulting in him losing his job as a mechanic, splitting with his wife and walking naked into a church. This final event is enough to get him institutionalised where he makes good progress in therapy.
Dr. Johnson (Pamela Baker) doesn’t want to release him but has little choice due to there not being enough room at the hospital. This is one of many references the movie makes to the failings in mental health treatment within America.
Harry is released into the custody of his brother Ben (Navarre Perry) who less then pleased about having to look after him. Ben is an accountant and one of his clients has an abandoned hotel so that is where Harry will stay.
Once there though, Harry suffers from dreams and hallucinations believing others are in the hotel. He even converses with a bellboy in a direct Shining reference. Harry, as well as us, begin to wonder just what is real and what isn’t. There’s so much wackiness that it really becomes difficult to follow. Is Harry actually sleeping with Dr. Johnson? Does his stuffed teddy bear actually talk? Is that really his wife’s body in the bathtub?
The only thing that seems to be real are the several run-ins with a gang that gives Harry a load of guns setting in motion the film’s violent ending.
The ending. We have to talk about it. After such an absurd watch, we get a final 10 minutes that is incredibly violent and harrowing to watch. At complete odds with the tone of the move so far. Harry goes to a restaurant and opens fire on the patrons inside. That isn’t the problem. The problem with this ending is that it goes on for ages. From the moment Harry walks in to the point where he is shot dead, we have 10 minutes of people being gunned down. Shot where they lay, shot while they whimpered and cried.
Even before I knew this was based on a true story, I thought it was too much. It just keeps going on and on and on.
A horrible ending for a horrible movie. The acting is awful, the sound is awful and it’s shot so poorly it’s like something has been smeared over the camera lenses. Sure, it’s an 80’s film but that doesn’t excuse so many lacklustre elements. Combine it all together and what we have here is a horror/thriller that really isn’t worth anyone’s time.
It’s a shame as the movie’s references to Harry’s obvious issues and how he couldn’t get the support he needed is interesting. Instead it all ends up boiling down to rubbish clichés. About a loner who sees things and talks to his stuffed bear.