When you just let an imagination go, sometimes the most tremendous things can happen. This film, The Terrorists, is Pure Millard. Set in Munich and his home in Northern California (but that’s really Munich, too), this kick-ass film is about a terrorist group (actually a husband and wife team like McMillan & Wife but terrorists) planning to kill President Carter when he comes to Munich, sometime in 1978. It’s up to an American Army Guy, a Munich Newslady and a hard-boiled cop to stop them…before it’s too late.
All the faces we love (with the exception of Priscilla Alden) are in this: The bookshop lady and the crazy priest from Satan’s Black Wedding, the star of .357 Magnum, the anti-Renee Harmon lady from Death Nurse 1 and 2 and Doctor Bloodbath himself! Seeing the Millard Ensemble gradually arrive during the course of a movie always makes me smile. If one of them doesn’t show up…I feel a little sad.
The word I kept thinking of as I watched this was “mushy excitement”. I don’t know why. It’s not as outright crazy as .357 Magnum. Watching it a second time, I saw that Mr. M sets up all the plot and all the characters efficiently, if a little strangely. But, it wouldn’t be Millard if some of it wasn’t truly odd. The plot is sort of tight. It just doesn’t have much urgency, which is perfect. If I want urgency, I’ll jump off a bridge. I ease my way through a Millard film. Never knowing what is coming next. Smiling and enjoying every little bend in the road.
Yes, there are no Zings in this film’s tail. He saves those for the horror films. This one has a dramatic ending and then a wonderful “Huh?” moment to wrap it up. Pure Millard. There are shootouts and they are edited insanely. Look out for those! Mr. M seems to have some Parallax troubles throughout. Folks get lots of head room and then little to no mouth room randomly across the movie. An error? Possibly. An Awesome? Definitely. And, it is always great to see the inside of his house. That staircase is like a friend. I’d like to think he actually had that room built on a soundstage in Munich to replicate his home while he was away but, I think, those actors probably stayed back in the U.S. and they shot the climax there.
I don’t usually get this nerdy but I wouldn’t mind charting the scenes in this movie and seeing where characters go, where the story goes, how it all plays out and so forth. I said it felt like “mushy excitement” but, once I said it, I didn’t know what I meant. Maybe the way the film meanders along from character to character. Possibly the way that there are a lot of big moments that transpire just off-screen (audiences at lectures, bombs going off). And, although there is much talk of urgent events approaching or occurring, one never knows where the real urgency is in relation to the scene we’re currently watching. And, the Level of Urgency changes from scene to scene. It may be at High Anxiety in one scene and then, in the next, it’s time for coffee. (For example, President Carter is in danger but we never quite get him to Munich before the movie ends and not everyone seems to care all that much anyway.)
Millard boldly creates his world and it’s a hell of a place. The confidence here makes me bounce around the room. When one man asks another man to meet him at the “Donut-Burger-Strassa”, I knew that I’d found another part of the Millard Canon To Be Good!!! Very Good.