Choke (2001) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

As you may know, two guys who used to be on the A list are now serious contenders to the Eric Roberts crown, which is awarded each year to the guy who makes the most straight-to-video movies. I am speaking of Dennis Hopper and Michael Madsen. I guess these guys either love to work or really have some bills to pay, but whatever the reason, they are churning out grade-z movies by the score.

Given that fact, I guess it is inevitable that their paths will cross now and then, and this is one such memorable syzygy when the planets of the B universe have aligned. Of course, it's hard to avoid Madsen when watching a John Sjogren film festival, because I think Madsen is the leading luminary in the Sjogren repertory camp, having appeared in three of his last four masterpieces, including a Movie House favorite, Red Line

One guy at IMDb commented:

This is the most gloriously contrived flick I have ever seen. Dennis Hopper's character and his actions are laugh-out-loud funny. Man this is a "so bad it is good" flick in the truest sense. Hopper's inner monologues and Madsen's bad guy mugging for the camera make this silly, silly movie so much fun. Sit back and laugh.

And that was a gentle criticism! I think the story on the movie is this: Madsen and Hopper cleared one day out of their schedules to shoot the film, and whoever was supposed to bring the script that day overslept, or possibly died, or possibly was killed by Madsen and/or Hopper after they read it. They only had the two "names" for a day, and they didn't want to waste it, so they made some stuff up.

Here's the plot summary: 
  • Hopper is a rich businessman. His daughter has a hit and run accident. She was drunk, the guy she hit is dead.
  • Hopper covers it up, after imagining his daughter in the Big House.
  • Then, after imagining himself in the calaboose, he has to kill a guy who got wind of the cover-up. That means he has to cover up a second crime. 
  • As he prepares to dispose of the second body, he has to deal with a serial murderer (Madsen) who watched what was going on and saw the telltale signs of body disposal, a routine with which he is very familiar. 


The scene is described in the main commentary. The actress is named Kaylynn (no last name)
 Up to that point it was a typical cheapazoid movie, but it then started to get surreal.

For example, Madsen and Hopper then drive around for a while. A long while. They stop for gas and talk in the car while it is parked in the fueling position. Somehow they found full-service gas, even though they aren't in Oregon or New Jersey. They don't discuss the Lakers or the weather, but chat about things they have in common, like crimes against humanity. Then they drive some more, pull into an alley, stop the car, and talk about some more of the same stuff. Why do they keep stopping? You see, it's tricky to film two guys in a moving car. You have the problem of a moving background, even if you can afford the equipment and personnel necessary to film the scene. So they keep stopping to talk.

DVD info from Amazon.

  • no widescreen

  • no meaningful features, but there are some bios and trailers

This brings us to a scene that I have create some kind of award for. You know how those actresses always say they'd do nudity if it were integral and necessary to the plot? Well, here's an example of just such a scene. At one point, Hopper and Madsen park in a random place, an alley between two buildings. It just so happens that there is a crazy guy watching them through a crack in the wall of one of the buildings. This guy is unrelated to the plot. Now the crazy guy is in some kind of hidden passageway behind the exterior wall and the interior wall of the building. Can you guess the rest? The peephole to the exterior wall leads to Madsen and Hopper, the peephole on the other side leads to the changing room of a woman's clothing retailer, where he watches a woman undress. He switches back and forth. 

Now that is nudity integral to the plot! 

The Critics Vote

  • no reviews online

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it 3.6.
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is an E. The print is clear and crisp, thus averting an F, and Jeff Fahey is not in it, thus averting a G

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