Sunday, 1 March 2015



It's not as if the warning signs weren't already in place. It's not as if we couldn't have known. The first sign was The Comic, slow-clapped and booed at the Scala Cinema (a place where the meisterworks of Ed Wood and Ted V Mikels could play without audience antipathy). The second sign was Kannibal, aka Head Hunter, a feature-length excuse for the auteur to indulge his Anthony Hopkins impression in a story that made no sense whatsoever. I've seen it twice. And the third sign was the somehow even less coherent gibberish of The Legend Of Harrow Woods. But it was only after this latest idiotic escapade that the authorities stepped in and did Richard Driscoll for tax fraud. Like Al Capone, it's fitting he's been put away for this but unofficially there are far worse offences on his rap sheet.

Exhibit Four is Eldorado, aka Highway To Hell, a fever-dream horror musical Western spoof that takes the same approach to its source material as the Scary Movies: using the basic structure of the film as a string on which to hang a miscellaneous ragbag of other material. In this instance it's a parody of The Blues Brothers (a film only thirty years old, but hey for topicality) which apparently thinks it's taking the misadventures of Jake and Elwood into gory cannibal territory, were it not for the fact that these are Stanley and Oliver Rosenblum, and the latter is played by Driscoll himself, because why not? We first meet our heroes, the self-appelled Jews Brothers, on the run from a disastrous gig where they've been mistakenly booked to entertain some Neo-Nazis led by Sylvester McCoy. This is a man who spent an unhealthy part of 1988 being chased around the Doctor Who studio by a seven-foot liquorice allsort, which is now no longer the stupidest thing he ever did.

Steve Guttenberg - a man who turned down Police Academy 5 but didn't turn down Eldorado - turns up as the Jews Brothers' agent, wearing pebble glasses and lip-synching Stand By Your Man for no reason. Caroline Munro turns up as Stan's (or Ollie's) wife and performs Think. Brigitte Nielsen appears in a salon surrounded by women in their underwear (a flashback sequence) singing R.E.S.P.E.C.T. Robert Llewellyn from Red Dwarf turns up as leader of a biker gang in the desert who performs Everybody Needs Somebody. Michael Madsen wanders in halfway through, basically playing Michael Madsen, though he doesn't get to sing either of the TWO numbers filched from the Reservoir Dogs soundtrack (Stuck In The Middle With You arrives much later, sung by Oliver Tobias while Bill Moseley from The Texas Chain Saw Massacre 2 does the Mr Blonde dance and cuts his ear off).

Meanwhile Patrick Bergin (who was actually in another film called Highway To Hell back in 1991) is a hideous cheating husband and sleazy strip-club owner whose wife (played by the director's then-girlfriend) has legged it with a briefcase full of cash that glows when she opens it because Richard Driscoll has seen Pulp Fiction. Eventually things come to a head in a desert town full of cannibals where Robin Askwith is a giggling hillbilly halfwit and Jeff Fahey is a traumatised vietnam veteran and dentist, Rik Mayall is the comedy Italian chef (lipsynching a bit of La Traviata and clowning around with dismembered corpses) and Buster Bloodvessel turns up at the Old Opry and performs Shake Your Tail Feather. At one point the Jews Brothers pretend they're the Soggy Bottom Boys and sing I Am A Man Of Constant Sorrow, presumably because Driscoll had seen O Brother Where Art Thou?.

Daryl Hannah is in it as well, wearing a fetching white suit and wandering through a green-screen desert reciting bits of Edgar Allan Poe's poem Eldorado. (Connoisseurs of Richard Driscoll's previous work will doubtless recall his equally irrelevant use of Christopher Walken's reading of The Raven in The Legend Of Harrow Woods.) But she has nothing to do with the rest of the film until the end, when she kills the Brothers for no reason except they can now perform Soul Man while dressed as angels and bouncing around on clouds under the end credits. Sometimes she gets to interact with David Carradine, who isn't even in it but footage has been dragged in from a TV movie called Kung Fu Killer (in which Daryl costarred) and heavily solarised to the point of abstraction.

This might all sound like the panicked hallucinations of someone who has taken one too many heavy blows to the head, and it should be clear that tight narrative coherence is not one of the film's strengths. ("Strengths" is a relative term, and perhaps the film's sole concrete achievement is to come in at less than two hours - the IMDb suggests there's a version out there that runs 158 minutes which is either a typographical error or a second-level war crime.) In order to try and get the damn thing to make any sense at all, a shaky-looking Peter O'Toole has been drafted in to narrate over the cracks in the story, apparently reading from a sheet of paper that's just been handed to him. It doesn't help. Oh, and it's supposedly in 3D. That would explain the various things floating about the screen every so often, such as the inexplicable swarm of CGI flies swarming round Steve Guttenberg's office. However, despite the artwork the DVD clearly isn't in 3D and I don't have a TV that could show it that way anyway.

Eldorado is obviously a colossal mess and disaster: utter rubbish, and a perfect depiction of the vast abyss between overambition and actual ability. It's also a sad illustration that good actors, reliable and experienced performers and household names will do anything - absolutely anything - if you give them money, or even if you promise to give them money. Even if it's shamelessly restaging the farting cowboys scene from Blazing Saddles in front of a CGI campfire, even if it's miming musical numbers swiped from an immeasurably superior film and lumbered with half-hearted dance moves apparently choreographed by R2D2. It's not even a spectacular turkey of a can't-tear-my-eyes-away-from-the-horror variety, it just spends two hours making you wish you were watching The Blues Brothers. So why aren't you?


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