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Deadly Trigger (1985)

Directed by Joe Oakes
Marathon Video VHS

Remember those Doublemint gum commercials with twins doing twin things like riding tandem bikes, playing doubles tennis, rowing canoes, and throwing beach balls to dolphins? Double your refreshment! Double your pleasure! Double your fun (by doing the whitest things possible on a Saturday afternoon)! Then there were those Coors Light commercials that listed things we allegedly love: “Pom-poms and short skirts/fans who won’t quit…and TWINS!” The ads always featured a miasma of bros high-fiving because who doesn’t love TWINS? And while Coors Light is the Yoo-hoo of beers, I have to admit, they are onto something. Two really is better than one.

Ruth and Ann are nightclub singers in NYC. They are also TWINS — played by Audrey and Judy Landers. (Audrey went on to be on Dallas, and Judy went on to be the twin sister of the one who was on Dallas.) The ladies shimmy in bedazzled leotards that look suspiciously like figure skating outfits. The year is 1985, but disco is somehow alive and well. We get to hear an extended mix of their performance: “Heaven is just a heartbeat away. Your love makes my heart beat away.” It’s poetry. With a sax solo.

Ruth is pregnant! The twins want to quit performing, but what they should really quit is their abuse of hairspray. They go off to Cologne, Germany for reasons I don’t understand. When you think of cities in Germany, Cologne is not one of them. Berlin, sure. Munich, maybe. Dusseldörf, possibly — only because it’s fun to say. But certainly not Cologne, which is kind of like Cleveland. It’s less of a destination and more of a place that’s in your way.  But it turns out, bad things happen in Cologne.

Some thugs wreck a car dealership by slamming a monster truck backhoe into a car—in slow motion, for a long period of time. They also roll over cars and drop cars on top of other cars. It is a bad time to be a car in Cologne. One thug is wearing a Hawaiian shirt, but falls hopelessly short of Magnum P.I.’s casual-but-tough mystique. No one can rock a hibiscus print and a firearm like Tom Selleck. The thugs end up at the disco and then the pleasure really gets doubled. Twin assaults! Twin rapes!

Ruth loses the baby. Her boyfriend rushes to the hospital but then, in a stunning turn of events, his car flies up a ramp in slow motion, rolls down a cliff, and explodes. Again, not a good time to be a car in Cologne. Ruth is hysterical — as in inconsolable, not as in funny ha ha, though the scene is pretty ha ha. First the baby, now Warner! She jumps out the window in slow motion. Oh no! Oh yes! This is a tragedy of Shakespearean proportions, but with TWINS.

But don’t worry; Ruth is alive, only wheelchair bound. This is actually a good thing because now you can tell the twins apart. The Cologne police department can’t help because one thug, named Harry DeRomeo, has connections in high places. If you want to be a badass, then just add a “de” in front of your last name. Jacob Solomon might be the name of your dermatologist, but Jacob DeSolomon is a kingpin in the sex trade.

The movie unfolds as Ruth and Ann carry out their own Doublemint-flavored justice. They plan a complicated sting (meaning I have no idea what the fuck they’re doing) to catch DeRomeo. This involves a porch swing with too many stripes, a guy who punches through a roof, a near miss with a table saw, and a flashback to a disco performance with at least two key changes. Then there’s the fistfight in a car wash that is not run by half-naked women and a sex scene that’s like watching your dad make out with someone who is not your mother. You are confused and angry, but mostly nauseous. At some point, DeRomeo holds Ann hostage and demands “a really fast car.” Ask and ye shall receive: He gets Germany’s version of a Ford Escort.

What happens next is an incredible, pants-dropping, seemingly endless chase sequence that features many forms of transportation. Cars, motorcycles, a train, a tractor, and not one, but two helicopters are all involved. It’s as though director Joe Oakes made up the sequence as he went along, looking for whatever vehicle was nearby. There are some epic stunts, including a guy who falls out of a helicopter and into a lake. In case you miss it, they show it to you in slow motion.

The last quarter of Deadly Trigger is where the producers blew their entire budget. It certainly wasn’t on the script. Or the acting. Or the directing, cinematography, or sound. They shot the entire movie without audio and had the cast dub themselves. From what I understand, the best part about shooting on video is that sound comes with it for free. But maybe not in Cologne. The line readings are detached and deadpan and the actors struggle over words. When someone gets hurt, they grunt and groan, but it sounds less like they’ve been shot and more like they’re dropping a deuce in the upstairs bathroom. But hey, TWINS!

This movie is worth watching twice.