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Revenge of the Radioactive Reporter

1991, Starring David Scammell, Kathryn Boese, Randy Pearlstein, Derrick Strange. Directed by Craig Pryce.

The first feature made by Craig Pryce (The Dark), The Revenge of the Radioactive Reporter is a hard-to-find horror spoof made in Toronto that apes a handful of films like Phantom of the Opera, The Toxic Avenger and more traditional slasher movies. Seriously low budget and amateurishly acted, ROTRR provides only a few scattered moments of fun between juvenile jokes and a needlessly winding plot.

Investigative reporter Mike, and his fiancé Richelle cruise around Toronto, while she tries to get him to spill his guts about a big story he is working on. Mike swears he can't yet reveal his scoop, but he assures her that he will tell her about it soon, after a secret meeting the next day. The next morning, Mike confronts the board of the local power plant, led by the smarmy Dick Swell, about their poor safety standards. Dick takes him on a " tour" of the facilities to convince him otherwise, but uses the opportunity to toss Mike into a vat of nuclear waste. Before he goes in, Mike tells him that Richelle will call the police if he doesn't come home. Fearing that she may "know too much," Dick and the rest of the board decide that she too must be killed.

As you already knew from the title, though, Mike is nowhere near dead. He rises from the vat and picks up a Fedora and a trenchcoat from Eaton's Darkman Collection for Horribly Disfigured Men. He then calls Richelle, but can't form her name with his rotting lips. Meanwhile, the other evil board members are in Mike's office going through his files and attacking zookeeper Richelle at work, trying to get rid of any incriminating evidence.

Mike visits a bar in Toronto where he spots one of the board members and considers how to exact his revenge. While following the board member home, Mike is pulled over by the police for drunk driving. He seems to be in trouble until he melts the cop's Breathalyzer with his radioactive breath, and speeds off in his convertible.

The best and most humourous part of the film shows Mike living at the power plant, eating TV dinners by cooking them in the vats, and dreaming about what people will say and do when he reveals himself. He dreams about being part of a freakshow, and also that Richelle screams and runs away when he finally reveals himself to her.

Much of the movie plays out like a sophomoric fantasy where the Radioactive Reporter scares authority figures and evil doers on the way to save the girl. He proceeds to kill the board members one by one, and even saves a girl about to be raped. Despite the joy Mike gets by killing people in a variety of gruesome ways, his worst fears come true--when he finally reunites with Richelle, she is unable to deal with his Freddy Krueger make-over. Mike is ashamed, but he doesn't let that stop him when Dick kidnaps her and he becomes our only hope to put an end to this wild goose chase of a plot.

ROTRR is watchable, but it is not particularly exciting or even Canadian beyond the obvious Toronto locations (Mick E Fynn's, The Silver Dollar, Queen Street West). However, one fun Canuxploitation scene features Mike dumping a board member in a wood chipper, whose remains end up splattered all over a nearby truck's Ontario license plate. The bar scene also features the song "Circular Impression," a local 1980s hit by The Extras that had some limited success as a novelty song on Dr. Demento's show.

Craig Pryce's direction is better than I thought it would be, however ROTRR suffers from the same problem as many horror spoofs; it's not particularly funny. It relies less on satire than on the big "yuks," and these are mostly juvenile, like corny bar pick-up lines and the character names: Mike R Wave, Cher Noble, Tom Collins, Dick Swell, etc. Like in Flesh Gordon Meets the Cosmic Cheerleaders, what is missing here is the sense of playfulness with the material. It just doesn't seem like the actors or the director were having much fun making this film.

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