Greetings again, mellow readers, and welcome to A Mind Occasionally Voyaging, where my ceaseless efforts to recapture my long-lost youth will take me to the very depths of terrible old movies I dimly recollect from childhood. This week we’re going to look at an old classic from–
EEEGAH! It’s– Um. It’s. Okay, No idea.
Roseb– Oh. Sorry. Is this better? I forget what I look like to morals sometimes.
EEEGAH! It’s the ghost of Orson Welles!
Yes. Long ago, I shuffled off this mortal coil, and since then, my meanderings in the great beyond have led me to acquire deepest knowledge of the great mysteries of the universe.
Wow. And you’re going to share them with me?
Of course not. Why, the merest sentence of the infinite knowledge I possess would cause your thyroid gland to dissolve into delicious frozen peas. Mmm… Peas…
Right. So then, what brings you here, former Mr. Welles?
It recently came to my attention that you expressed concern over my later carer in a conversation with a Mr. Prime.
Oh, that. Yeah. I thought it was really a shame how you never got the respect you really deserved in your later years.
That’s why I have appeared to you now. I wanted you to understand that here in the afterlife, I am beyond all such material concerns. I can see all the days of my life laid out before me, and I realize that, all in all, I had a pretty good run and I regret nothing.
Not even Future Shock.
Wow. The afterlife sounds awesome.
Yes. But I have come to you with a grave warning.
Oh crap. Am I going to be visited by three spirits?
Probably. But that’s not really relevant to my warning. As the maker of what is unarguably the greatest film ever made, I have come to warn you: your choice of films to review lacks any sort of cohesion. Why, it’s as if you’re choosing films entirely at random without any thought to how your body of reviews work as a whole.
My God, you’re right Former Mr. Welles! If I don’t clean up my act and fly right, will I be doomed to wander the earth after my death, bound in chains, never stopping, never knowing a minute’s peace?
No. You’ll just go to hell. But I wouldn’t worry too much about that. You’re pretty much damned anyway for practicing the wrong religion.
What? But I thought all religions were paths to God!
Nope. The only true religion is Frooblintarianism. Unfortunately, the great prophet Froblintar was born on the planet Gelgamar IV in the year 500,023 BC.
Oh. Sucks to be us then.
So I guess there’s really only one thing for it. One way to make my reviews more coherently themed. I need to do… A miniseries. A movie-thon all bound together by the common thread of one man. A man whose contribution to modern film is unquestionable. A man whose name is already famous in the annals of cinematographic history.
Good to see you’ve come to your senses.
Yes! I can see it now. There’s no other choice. I shall do a marathon. A marathon dedicated to the greatest star of film history. A marathon of the film masterpieces of… Michael Moriarty!
Yes! No, wait. Who?
Michael Moriarty! Isn’t it obvious, Former Mr. Welles?
I mean, with last time’s The Stuff, I’m already one film in. There must be ones, nay, tens of ones of fine films starring the most fantastically-foreheaded man of action that the 1980s ever produced.
I think I’ll be leaving now.
Oh no you don’t, Former Mr. Welles. You got me into this, and you’re going to see it through with me. Now, let’s pull up IMDB and see what we’ve got…
Oh. Huh. That’s… Okay. Well, maybe we’ll have a spot of luck with this one..
Starring Michael Moriarty (and Michael Moriarty)
Directed by Alberto de Martino
We open from a peeping-tom shot looking in on a freeze-framed ballroom as the credits run, gently reassuring us tht this film will indeed star Michael Moriarty and — HOLY CRAP!
I mentioned once before that Moriarty, during this phase of his career, bore a striking resemblance to a doughier Ben Browder. Cameron Mitchell is, of course, the recklessly loveable Air Force Colonel who replaced General Jack O’Neill in Stargate SG-1’s final seasons. And he was played by none other than Professional Michael-Moriarty-Impersonator Ben Browder. And now we find mention of a Cameron Mitchell in a Michael Moriarty film. Clearly this can be no mere coincidence, and must point to some kind of deep occult link between the two, like how Lincoln had a secretary named Kennedy and Kennedy had one named Lincoln.
The action finally starts up and we are treated to the back of Michael Moriarty’s head as he dances with a slightly older womanWho kinda looks like but is not Ma’am from Web*Ster to no music. Bystanders comment on how the couple seem so happy, what with the continuing to dance even after the music stops. Moriarty courts his date using his seductively honeyed southern accent (Michael Moriarty is from Michigan, I think). She is clearly smitten, and a little flabbergasted by the fact that someone so rich, so handsome, and so full of forehead as Michael Moriarty could be so loving to a woman so hideously wizened as her, what with her advanced age of perhaps 35 or 40. The music starts up again, maybe. I can’t tell. The music sounds like incidental music and while the other dancers take the floor, they aren’t moving anything like in time to the music the audience hears.
Michael Moriarty thanks the aged crone for the beautiful gold watch she gave him, then dances her into an empty area and apparently hugs her to death. It takes only a second. One good squeeze and she’s dead. I’m reminded of the Cybermen in Revenge of the Cybermen, who similarly like to kill people with what’s meant to be a show of cyber-strength, but look like they’re administering death in the form of a vigorous shoulder massage
As Michael nonchalantly leaves the part, his date’s body slumps forward a bit, showing what I’m guessing is a small scratch on her shoulder, which is no where even close to where Michael Moriarty’s hands were when he killed her.
Suddenly, Michael Moriarty wakes up in bed to a phone call. Ah, the first scene must have been a dream — surely the great Michael Moriarty couldn’t be a murderer! On his way to work, he stops to apologize to his maid for not gathering up his laundry for her. And then he kisses her. Given the reaction it gets, I’m going to guess that this was an unscripted addition by Moriarty.
Entirely unprofessional. I would never have kissed a woman in a film. Utter rubbish!
Moriarty next encounters the maid’s husband, Santa Claus, so they can get off some exposition to let us know that Michael Moriarty is a doctor and is in a sort of relationship with another doctor named Julie Warren. As he walks to work, he has a flash of Moriartyvision in a dome mirror, seeing the tuxedo’d Moriarty of the previous night.
His drive to work is punctuated by several beer-goggle’d visions of himself picking up a trashy blonde in a fur coat and nothing else. She seductively removes her coat, then puts it back on, and then Moriarty sees himself in a gray coat, murdering the blonde. Black-coated Moriarty cuts his hand on some window glass trying to run away, giving us a good chance to notice that he’s not wearing a watch.
When he arrives at work, he gets cuddly with Julie and explains how he’s had one nightmare and one hallucination of himself killing women, and he’s worried that his new experimental therapy technique has unlocked some kind of evil Mr. Hyde side to his personality. He also plays with the hair at his temple, so that Julie can point out the the audience that it’s a very distinctive mannerism that he has.
A board meeting expositions to us that Moriarty (Whose name is “Dr. Craig Mannings”, but I object to that, so instead I will continue to call him Michael Moriarty for as long as possible) is working on a new therapy tehnique which can control dreams, memory, fear, depression, and all personality flaws using a combination of accupuncture, electrocution, and “courage”.
Moriarty has another vision during his next self-therapizing session, and it prompts him to fly to Cleveland.
While I am forbidden to hand out the secrets of the universe, I do feel compelled to tell you that nearly two thirds of all electo-therapy-induced visions lead people directly to Cleveland.
In Cleveland, he visits a senile old woman in a nursing home, who recognizes him, but calls him “Keith”, prompting Michael Moriarty to reveal that he is, in fact, Keith Mannings’s identical twin brother! More, Craig (grr) and Keith were… Siamese Twins!. His parents had died, and, I gather, as is the usual practice in movies, the state made a concerted effort to separate the twins and ensure that they never ever met again. Does this ever happen in real life? I mean, I know that, in spite of their attempts, it’s not always possible to keep families together in foster care, but even when they end up having to break upfamilies, they’ve got to make an effort to keep siblings at least in contact with one another?
Well, they never tried to keep you in touch with your Siamese twin brother.
I don’t have a Siamese twin brother. And also, I think “conjoined” is the polite term for that.
That’s what you think. Didn’t you ever wonder about that strange scar on your hip?
I don’t have a scar on my hip. I — HOLY CRAP HOW LONG HAVE I HAD THAT SCAR?
I’ve said too much already.
Y.e.a.h… The senile old lady tells Michael Moriarty #1, thinking that he is Michael Moriarty #2, that she’d been kind to him by keeping him out of is court-ordered therapy for his nacient insanity. Moriarty notes that both his own caretaker and the senile old woman both are unwilling to admit to their respective wards that they’d had a conjoined twin, and the old woman reveals that Moriarty #2 had not, as Moriarty #1 thought, died in a fire when he was 17.
Back home, Moriarty #1 enjoys a gratuitous topless scene from Julie as and explains that he didn’t really need to go to Cleveland, because he’d intitively known the entire time that his long-lost brother was still alive and that his recent visions had been him seeing through his brother’s eyes. Rendering most of Good Moriarty’s scenes so far entirely pointless. Still, I guess it was polite of him to take the audience with him as he demonstrated all these things he already knew. Julie is understandably worried that the effect might work both ways, allowing Evil Moriarty to see her moderately nice breasts. Neither one of them is especially concerned by the fact that they’ve just discovered the secret to psychic remote viewing powers, or that Good Moriarty’s brother is a serial killer. I think the idea here is that Julie doesn’t really believe Good Moriarty, but as the alternative is that her boyfriend and research partner is insane, she seems to be taking it in stride.
Good Moriarty gets another message from the Big Giant Forehead, leding him to a harbor in Germany, and he’s off on the trail! Evil Moriarty sets his eyes on a new victim, but is cockblocked by a Cameron Mitchell. No, not him: him, who I now remember is the guy who played the santa-like captain of the space ship in Space Mutiny and the heavy in that Fugitive-In-Space pilot that they did on MST3K. Cameron Mitchell is a washed up prize figher who mistakes Evil Moriary for Good Moriarty, who’d fixed his broken arm some years back. (Wait. He’s that kind of doctor? That makes no sense. I thought he was some kind of psychiatric researcher.), Evil Moriary plays along. Meanwhile. I think Good Moriarty visits the ballroom from the opening scene and meets the dour majordomo. But it’s hard to tell when you’ve got your main character in a double role and don’t ahve the decency to give one of them a goatee.
(Continued after the jump…)
Good Moriarty is confronted by the German police, who demand to see his papers, and, though convinced by them that he’s only just arrived in the country, he tells him all about hte recent pair of murders involving a guy who looks just like him. The detective also makes a point of describing both women as elderly. Now, through the fog of Moriartyvision, I coudn’t be entirely sure about the second one, but neither of those women looked especially elderly. The first one was certainly mature in her years, but hardly elderly. The second one, well, what kind of elderly woman goes out on the prowl wearing a fur coat with nothing on under it? (OH GREAT AUNT ETHEL NO!). Good Moriarty wisely decides not to rat his brother out and thereby solve all the tension of this movie, but instead is cryptic and says that he “Needs to find someone who needs my help”.
Evil Moriary goes back to the gym with Cameron Mitchell, and meets his moderately hot (In an early 80s kind of way), who tells him that, though the doctors didn’t tell him, Cameron Mitchell’s health is so poor that if he ever tries to wrestle again, he will surely die. Because apparently, German doctors don’t tell you if you’ve got a life-threatening condition that will kill you if you ever do a thing which you do all the time and would not quit unless you had some pending health reason to avoid it. Fortunately, he’s been previously described by himself and is again described by Evil Moriarty as a “prize fighter”, and I’m pretty sure that prize fighting is a term specific to boxing, not wresting.
While Good Moriarty calls Julie to update her, Evil Moriarty spars with Cameron Mitchell in the park. And by “spars”, I mean “They have a cute little slap-fight.” In boxer’s stances. Which is not wrestling. Moriary boxes him into a heart attack, but when that doesn’t kill him fast enough, Evil Moriary just beats him to death instead. Mitchell manages to ask why, and evil Moriarty one-liners “It’ll be all over before you find out!”
You know, I also suffered from that affliction in life. It was one of the major reasons I stopped acting to my full ability.
You don’t say! I thought it was just me, the cast of CSI and Jimmy Carter.
Shocking, but true. It didn’t afflict me in my youth, of course, as The Who did not yet exist, but watch: It looks like his heart just wasn’t in that fight
Talkin’ ’bout my generation!
The cop confronts Good Moriarty again, and while Moriarty is annoyed, he cryptically says “It doesn’t do any good to complain, because everything’s interrelated…” They don’t really accomplish aything in this scene other than give Good Moriarty a context to be in when he has another murder-vision.
Mitchell’s daughter goes to the cops, but they refuse to arrest Good Moriarty, Good Moriarty sees a newspaper article about hte death of Mitchell (which reveals that his name is “Bud Walbo”, making his death a mercy), and Evil Moriarty bangs a hooker, giving us another nude scene, and Evil Moriarty a context to have his own vision of Good Moriarty. He makes a call to Walbo’s daughter, tipping her off to where Good Moriarty is, hoping that she will kill him I guess. Frankly, the movie gets a little confusing at this point, with a lot of scenes of one Moriarty or the other wandering around having visions of the other one.
Where’s Walbo’s Daughter nearly stabs Good Moriarty to death, but he manages to disarm her, then explains that he’s got an evil twin. Which she instantly believes.
Evil Moriarty goes back to his hooker (she may be his girlfriend. She seems attached to him, though she also mentions him paying her for sex) and goes full-on crazy about not wanting to be a guinea pig in his brother’s experiments, and about how his brother “took too much” from him. He then very politely asks his girlfriend if he can pretend-murder her in order to induce another vision, so he can look out the window, tipping off his brother to his location.
Good Moriarty is having drinks with Walbo’s Daughter, who says “I really feel sorry for you,” but she says it with absolutely no emotion, which I think is fair since he’s not the one with a dead father.
Finally, the two moriarties meet, each politely keeping to their respoective sides of the screen in order to make the matte shots easier. Evil Moriarty does the whole “Let’s Have a Creepy Tea Party with the Serial Killer” thing, beign very polite and very crazy, and mocks Good Moriarty’s hair-playing-with tick, which he has only done in this scene and the one where they introduced the concept at beginning of the movie.
By the way, I’m writing this in the car on our way to Lake George. Just as I was finishing that pargraph, Leah alerted me to the fact that we’re currently driving through New Baltimore, NY. Better still, according to the road sign, the next town is called “Cock Sackie” Or possibly “Coxsackie”, but I choose to believe that it’s the former.)
The two Moriarties discuss the situation, thoughtfully color-coding themselves, with Evil Moriarty wearing a paisley scarf and Good Moriarty wearing a plaid. Evil Moriarty explains that he’s, in fact, not crazy (this is a lie), and is conducting a complicated experiment in his murders, choosing only old people, and killing them in the context of giving them a renewed taste of youth.
He also proposes that the death of one of them would sever the link between them, but that, as brothers, they ought to love each other. He tries to talk Good Moriarty out of sneaking him out of Germany and locking him up in a mental institution, but then realizes that this scene has gotten talky and boring, and just cold-cocks his brother. Though he draws his switchblade, he suddenly realizes that there’s another way to break the link between them, and slips off. When Walbo’s Daughter (Can’t for the life of me remember her name) goes up to check on Good Moriarty, the hooker reappears and expositions that Evil Moriarty is suffering from erectile dysfuncton, because it is the 1980s and Hollywood understands that the only reason men ever become serial killers is because of some kind of complex mental issue that involves displaced sexuality and impotence. Walbo comforts him, in a touchy feely kind of way that doesn’t really reflect the fact that he’s got a mch more attractive girlfriend back in the US. And she even points out that it’s weird for her to be doing a guy who looks exactly like the man who killed her father. But I think the scene is partly just an excuse to show us his scar. Hey,wait: Holy crap, his scar is on his right side! That makes him the left or Sinister twin!. Or maybe it’s just an excuse to have another topless scene.
You modern people and your film nudity. We’d never show so much as a bare navel in my day.
You know you were still alive when this movie was made, right? And there were nudie films all the way back in like the 60s? Ed Wood made some.
You… You mean I could have had a topless scene in The Third Man? My God! My life’s work, wasted!
Good Moriarty takes a shower, and Evil Moriarty shows up, then stabs his brother. I guess that whole “There’s another way than killing you to break the link” thing didn’t work out for him. Evil Moriarty then strips down andd gets in bed with the still-naked Walbo’s Daughter, who notices the misplaced scar, but not until mid-coitus. He announces that he’s a terrible lover, and then murders her despite her protests that he’s actually quite good.
Good Moriarty is promptly arrested, and the German police, who dont believe him, don’t question the fact that an anonymous informant knew everything about the murders and where to find him, and even kind of laugh at the possibility of questioning the informant.
Julie flies out to Germany, where the german detective doens’t care about Good Moriarty’s record in the US, and, though he believes that there had been a twin brother, he does believe that he died years ago, and doesn’t care about the conclusive proof that Good Moriarty wasn’t in the country during the first two murders and was physically with the inspector during the third one. Good Moriarty realizes that his only hope is to find the hooker — the only other person to see both Moriarties.
But it’s too late; Evil Moriarty offs her too. I imagine the German police will simply pin that one on the incarcerated Good Moriarty…
Actually, they decide that this is enough evidence to hook up Good Moriarty’s experimental electro-accupuncture device, which gives Good Moriarty a vision of Evil Moriarty trying to escape into East Germany (Which existed back then), and gives Good Moriarty a vision of Julie. Which surely won’t backfire. Evil Moriarty then proceeds to blind himself by staring into some headlights, intuitively guessing this would stop his brother from seeing him.
But Julie has the idea of using the other side of the link to call Evil Moriarty out, asking him to meet with her in secret so he can murder her. Which is a great plan. The police obviously let her go alone to meet with a serial killer, and, despite his track record, mill about doubting him when Good Moriarty tells them where Julie is going and that she’s in danger.
Evil Moriarty, wearing sunglasses to keep Good Moriarty from seeing him, confronts Julie, disrobes her, and questions her motives. Julie claims she wants to reach the bits of Evil Moriarty that aren’t evil, though Evil Moriarty concldes that it’s a trick to get him to take off his sunglasses. So she offers herself to him sexually, which may have been a bit of a moot point since he was planning to rape and murder her anyway. But since she does him as an active participant instead of resisting him (Though from the camera angle, it looks more like she straddles him and has some kind of seizure), he’s completely thrown off guard and is finally able to hold his — actually, y’knw what. Let’s just say this: the climax of this movie involves Julie resolving Evil Moriarty’s sexual hangups.
He does still feel he has to kill her, though, as she’s his brother’s girl, despite his new-found love for her. But he dies instead, as Julie had surruptitiously palmed his knife durng sex. As he dies, he whispers, “I’ll come back to you…”, and Good Moriarty has a vision of his childhood, in which his younger self watched as young Evil Moriarty found their parents having sex in the garage, and ran over them, his need to put the car away properly taking precidence over the lives of his parents.
Later, Good Moriarty goes to view his brother’s body, but the movie decides to get surreal for a minute, and the dead Moriarty springs back to life and traps the living Moriarty in the dead body cabinet thing, leading to the most gratuitous Moriarty Crotch Shot ever made as he screams in terror.
We cut back to reality, where Moriarty has some crazy mumblngs that indicate that the good and evil Moriarties have now fused into one being. Because that happens.
Later, at their hotel room, there is a naked lady projected on the wall. Germany is a very different culture:
In the Alsace, they project both the nude woman and also a brioche on hotel walls.
Could you say that again, only this time put the emphasis at the beginning of the sentence?
What? You can’t start a sentence with “In the Alsace” and emphasise the “In”! That doesn’t make any sense. Sorry. There’s no known way of saying an English sentence in which you begin a sentence with ‘in’ and emphasize it. Get me a jury and show me how you can say “in the Alsace”, and I’ll go down on you. That’s just idiotic, if you’ll forgive me by saying so. That’s just stupid, “in the Alsace”; I’d love to know how you emphasize ‘in’ in “In the Alsace”…impossible! Meaningless!
The Remaining Moriarty tries to reassure the shaken Julie that it’s really him by playing with his hair in the way that only he does. Well, him and also his evil twin when trying to impersonate him. He then rips her clothes off in an indercut with the previus sex scene, to indicate that Moriarty’s now making love in the style of the Evil Twin. As she sobs, “Who are you?” we shift to soft focus and the credits roll.
So, what can we say about Blood Link? Frankly, I was disappointed in the quantity of both blood and link. However, it more than made up for it with the quantity of Michael Moriarty. There really wasn’t as much action as I expected, but we get to see the softer, more psychological-thrillery side of Michael Moriarty. What do you think, Former Mr. Welles?
I thought it was a weak story with excrible direction and editing, held together by nothing more than the promise of an above-average quantity of exposed female flesh.
Yeah. Ain’t it great? But seriously folks, I think this movie brings much needed attention to the underreported problem of serial-murdering conjoined twins. What more could anyone want?
How about some coherent world-building? I mean, seriously, if you’d like to set your story in a world full of magical psychic powers, that’s fine, but there’s no reason to believe that’s what’s going on here. And yet, we have a man who’se invented a scientific method for establishing a visual psychic link between himself and another man, and this ends up having no impact on the world of the story whatever. He isn’t even especially surprised to discover that he can see through his brother’s eyes. Nor is his trollop girlfriend. Certainly, she’s reluctant to believe him, but once she does, there’s no questioning how they have achieved this remarkable feat, or even an intimation that this is in any way surprising or out of the ordinary. They’ve made the phenomenological breakthrough of the twentieth century, and it’s not even a subplot! Why, in the first ten minutes of the film, he’s presenting his findings to a review board that is questioning the continuation of his funding. Shouldn’t he have at least considered that they might be interested in that? You won’t renew my grant? I’m sorry to hear that, oh by the way, did you know that I’ve just utterly redefined what it means to be human? No? Well, not important then. you want to do a murder thriller, fine. You want to do a movie that speculates on the possibility of forging a bond between two consciousnesses, fine. But it’s impossible, meaningless to introduce the concept of one man being able to see through another man’s eyes, and then go about your business as though it were just another psychological thriller. If you removed the entire remote vieing angle, it would change nothing past the first ten minutes! Cut to Craig arriving in Germany on business and being accosted by the inspector, and the entire movie procedes the same way as before, without any of this remove viewing nonsense! And here, this rubbish was being produced as I was relegated to the voice of Unicron! I was Charles Foster Kane, God damnit! I was Harry Lime! Oh, this foolish moral realm will feel my wrath!
Hey, I thought you were at peace with the whole carrer thing!
That was before I saw what passed for “entertainment” in a world that had the choice of basking in my gift! In my vision! Oh, but they’ll know now! Now, the whole world will hear my voice and tremble in fear!
Tremble in fear?
Oh yes! And you shall be the first to fall before the untold horrors of the planes beyond your existence and FEAR MY NAME
Right. Just one thing.
What, foolish mortal?
I. Ain’t. Fraid. Of. No. Ghost.
Alas, poor Former Mr. Orson Welles. He learned almost too late that man is a feeling creature, and– no, wait. That’s Peter Graves. Orson Welles learned almost too late that I’ve got a spare Proton Pack. At any rate, join us next time for part three of AMOV’s Michael Moriartithon!