The Unsung of DEATH WISH 3, Vol. I

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Ever since I can remember, my personal philosophy could always be reduced to three easily digestible nuggets of wisdom: marriage is wholly incompatible with love, raising children (at best) might approximate Montezuma’s Revenge, and, damn it all, stand tall for something. Failing that, leave your mark on the world, even if that mark is both half-assed and trivial, like seeing how long you could go without taking a shit, or subsisting on Hot Pockets for a month. Having long since dispensed with hopes and dreams, or even the prospect of retiring from the world of work with anything greater than a ticket to homelessness and disease, I’ve settled on the next best thing: milk every last ounce of joy, interest, and trivia from Death Wish 3. It’s the turnip that keeps on giving, with a lifeblood that has all but come to define my existence. I’ve said it all, it seems, but I have no desire to stop talking. Looking at it anew (as I do), pretty much twice a day, I’ve decided to see where a bit of brainstorming could get me. A second set of ABCs? Perhaps. A fictional biography of Shriker after Kersey walks into the sunset? Not bad. A full script for a remake that imagines an even bloodier climax, complete with dirty bombs and gang rapes? It could go anywhere. It would go anywhere. And, like an internet Ivan Drago, I write for me. If you enjoy this latest round of DW3 minutiae, so much the better. If you’re bored, disgusted, or appalled, I’ll promise only to write even more. So relax, kiddies, here it comes. The Unsung of Death Wish 3, Volume I: relevant to few, enjoyable to even less, and pretty much just a time-killer to keep the demons at bay.

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Somewhat Good Samaritans: If you know the movie, you know the couple. Out for a stroll to their local death house/grocery store, they are seemingly without purpose, until, that is, poor Maria is distracted from her labors and thrown into the backseat of the car that will escort her from mute marital bliss to unwanted penetration, deafening roars, a broken arm, and ultimately, a heinous death in the world’s least credible hospital. They pop into frame, then out, but their stuttering, shivering mass betrays a noble goal: rescue, albeit one without reinforcements, aid, or weaponry. They say nothing, but move with purpose, even if they can’t help but shake with leaf-like surrender. Were they hoping to stop the assault? How would they do it? Or, like the man says, were they simply perverts wanting to see what the kids are up to these days? They call no one. Yells or cries of concern? Forget it. But they did act, goddamn it. A woman in distress, and they took a chance. They could have been kidnapped themselves, or shot and left for dead, but they risked life, limb, and an early supper for a mere stranger. Or did they know Maria? Was there a hint of recognition before her Catholic tits spilled from her torn blouse? Maybe they helped her husband when they moved into the building. It will always remain a great mystery. But their shuffling betrayed a conscience. Not this time, they argued, even as they pissed their pants and moved on. I’d like to think they hadn’t the heart to continue shopping, but such is life in the big city, be it Kitty Genovese or our poor, doomed Maria.

Sistah Schadenfreude: Of all the movie’s background players, few made their mark like the heartless, sociopathic African American sweetheart who smiled as she sipped from the cup of savagery. A man dies – the Giggler, akin to the neighborhood’s very own Carl Lewis – and she’s not only waving from the window with a glee usually reserved for hitting that week’s numbers, but later, at dawn, when the body has been discovered, she’s all up in that cop’s bidness like she’s spoiling for a fight. Okay, okay, you’re taking joy in a man’s death. Not so unexpected on a street where two of every three fail to come home at night, but what was his actual crime? Did he rape your sister? Split your daughter’s thighs like the atom? Take a 2×4 to your cousin? From what we can gather, the Giggler stole her pocketbook. East Coast for purse, but it’s just as likely it was only a wallet. And from how she’s dressed – from a natty robe to slippers that last knew greatness a decade prior – one has to believe said pocketbook housed more lint than coinage. A dollar at best, and even then it was already spoken for. But our good sister glories in the end of life like she’s finally cooked a casserole worth a damn. But who would dare suggest her laughter wasn’t delightfully infectious? We too share in her spirit, and long after the Giggler has been dispatched to a pauper’s grave, this lady will be reliving the details for anyone who cares to listen. The Giggler, still dead. Our fine lady, still toothy and terrific. Hear her roar, and bask in the greatness that is murder one.

DW2

Jailed, but Not Forgotten: Why he’s behind bars, no one knows. His stretch, an even greater mystery. A week? A month? Twenty to life? It doesn’t take a soothsayer to know he’s likely been set down in a corner like a potted plant and left to figure it out on his own. An actual indictment, like an education beyond the third grade, a mere pipe dream. And who the hell is Miranda? But amidst anarchy, he’s crafted a set of rules. Stay out of his space, for one, and don’t question his skills as a plumber. Sure, he tore out a toilet, but had you really planned on using the thing? After all, who could ever hope to poop when your surroundings are more stuffed than a Marx Brothers stateroom? Still, interrogations and knowing looks lead to attacks. Only he’s not as brave as his hulking frame would suggest. A coward at heart, he’s best when your back is turned. But as much as he can’t (and won’t) play fair, he’s also molasses-slow and lumbering to boot. So while he’s raising his arms for the fight, you can pause, reflect, and spin, launching the poor ox into the cell’s bars like an errant missile. Bloodied, but unbowed, he will live another day. But he’s wiser by half. Once bitten, twice shy. Fool him twice, sure as shit shame on him. As he rubs his aching pumpkin, he’s plotting his next move. Get the hell outta here, any which way you can. That one guy’s leaving, and he murdered a little old lady. He also has an attorney. Private counsel, to be sure, since he seems to give a fuck. You’d make a phone call, but the other end might never pick up. Static at best, in lieu of a caring soul.

DW4

Slap-Happy Grandma: Like Howard Beale, she wasn’t going to take it anymore. All told, two dozen purses stolen. Her prized Chevy Impala? Burnt to a cinder. She’d lament the firebombing, but she had a murdered husband to bury. Adding to that, and any other headache of your choosing, she’d been raped (twice), chased, threatened, punched, kicked, and damn near hit by an out of control bus. That is, before they canceled that line altogether. But now isn’t a time for tears. Or playing the victim. They done stole it all, and still they came. The bums, the beggars, the overly aggressive punks who may or may not be the lead singer from Living Colour. After all, a fixed income can’t feed the world. So enough is enough. A badass came to call, and she said no. No hesitation, reflection, or second-guessing. Fuck no, I hadn’t got any change, and stop asking. Just in case the message wasn’t sinking in, a double-barreled slap for extra insurance. Protection money, you say? Ain’t no one protecting my pussy last week. You got a number when some fuck steals my television? Grandma’s on to them all. It’s a racket, and play time is over. Fine, maybe it took that Kersey fella to send some balls our way. But now that we have ‘em, we’re gonna use ‘em. Our little Rosa Parks, she refused to sit down. Sure, she might have gotten shot between the eyes just three days ago, by the winds of change blow cold in this here ghetto. Get busy living, or get busy being beaten with a brick.

DW1

Broom Hilda: No one would have blamed her for blasting the fuck with a shotgun. Armed to the teeth seems to have been the default position, but she wasn’t going to give in to fear. Besides, weren’t those punk-loving cops confiscating all the firearms in the area? Or maybe they were just harassing the Jews. No, our good lady loved her home, thank you very much, and, per her upbringing, insisted on keeping it immaculate. It was little slice of heaven in a neighborhood where renter’s insurance long ago stopped being affordable. Something about the nightly burglaries and all. And guns would only add to the clutter. Just something else to be stolen and sold to the highest bidder. Ever the logician, she stocked her place with the undesirable and unwanted, from books to cleaning supplies, with a box of birth control as the proverbial cherry. So it stands to reason that when the latest riot broke out – the one approximating the siege at Stalingrad – she’d use whatever was handy to thwart the inevitable rage (and disappointment) of the poor sap who decided to attack the block’s lone neat freak. On that fateful day, despite the smoke and fumes and roars of death, she kept sweeping. Back and forth, back and forth, whipped up by the frenzy of dust-free promise. And then, around the fourth hour of wrathful brooming, he arrived. Unarmed, but wide-eyed and erect. He’d take what he wanted, leave her die, pausing only for a ham sandwich. But she had her instrument of clean. Hoisting it aloft like a righteous blade, she sent the man back. And down. And to his maker. And with that, she’d clean up the broken glass and return to her chores. And her very own ham sandwich.

See Also: Death Wish 3 – 25 Years of Memories by Matt Cale, and the 80’s Action review of Death Wish 3.

About Matt

Matt is the site’s Longest Serving Critic and chief misanthrope. He divides his time between classics of cinema and the most ridiculous movies he can find on Redbox.
Follow Matt: @mattcale52