Disconnected 1983 Review
Directed by: Gorman Bechard
Starring: Frances Raines, Mark Walker, Carl Koch
Review by Luisito Joaquín González
Well, I have to first tell you that Disconnected is certainly an odd beast that takes us in to the realms of slasher movies that just about fit the traditional guidelines of the category. As with The Shaman and Grotesque – two similarly confused juxtapositions – this one attempts to branch away from the hackneyed likes of The Prowler and Edge of the Axe whilst still doing enough to be classed as a slasher flick.
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 one of those rare types of features that will literally leave you staring at the screen in confusion more often than it’ll make a lick of sense. After the killer is revealed and dealt with halfway through the runtime, the mystery is still un-resolved and to be honest the whole point of the story remains inconclusive to the viewer even after the final credits have rolled. 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 majority of the dialogue scenes take place at wide, spacious and eminently dull backdrops, which soon become boring, and most 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 in the confused/victimised and slightly eccentric heroine. Playing the roles of both twins must have been good fun, but of the two, it’s Alicia that offers the real challenge over the more typical Barbara Ann persona. Raines would turn 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. There’s no doubt that her sultry sexiness and great figure 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 fashion 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. The idea was to provide an ambiguous 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 true eerie uneasiness. There are only a couple of on-screen killings and it’s by no means a typical stalk and slash bonanza, but it might still be worth tracking down if you can find it.
Final Girl √√