Here is my contribution to this week’s Kurt Russell Blog-a-thon, hosted by RealWeegieMidget and me. I decided to cover a movie I had never heard of before, let alone see. This movie is The Mean Season, which was released on February 15, 1985.
Run Time 1 hour 43 minutes
Kurt Russell plays Malcolm Anderson, a burnt out reporter of the Miami Journal. Having just returned from a vacation in Colorado, he felt like it was time to move somewhere more quiet, instead of covering grisly murders that take place in Miami. In the meantime, he covers the murder of a teenage girl. You can understand how he is burned out by seeing him go to the crime scene, along with photographer Andy Porter, played by Joe Pantoliano (The Goonies, The Fugitive), and going to the murder victim’s house to interview the mother. Malcolm goes back to the newsroom to write his story, with his boss, Bill Nolan (played by character actor Richard Masur, who you would recognize from many movies and television shows), hanging over his shoulder. An interesting fact about this newsroom, is that it was filmed in the actual newsroom of the Miami Herald, and not a sound stage. Actual reporters were consultants on the film, and even played some of the extras.
Malcolm’s girlfriend, Christine (Mariel Hemingway) is a school teacher. He visits her at work and promises to quit the paper, so they can move to Colorado. Of course, if he actually was able to quit right away, this would have been a very short movie.
While at the newsroom, Malcolm receives a phone call from a strange dude who said he killed the girl from the story that Malcolm had just written about. The killer says that he will kill again, and wants Malcolm to cover the story. He gave a clue about the murder to prove that he was telling the truth. So Malcolm went to see his friend Ray (Andy Garcia), who is a cop, and Ray’s partner, Phil (Richard Bradford), who Malcolm butts heads with throughout the whole movie. Ray confirmed that the killer’s clue was true, so they knew that this was indeed the real killer who was contacting Malcolm.
And sure enough, there is another grisly murder. Malcolm is torn. He doesn’t want to cover the murders because it could encourage the killer. On the other hand, he could try to help figure out who the killer is, and put a stop to it. Then it turns out that Malcolm doesn’t have a choice but to write about the killings because he was starting to get calls at home from the psycho.
It turns out that the killer was reproducing murders that he had done in another state. He was angry that he didn’t get credit for the murders. So, he was hoping to get attention in Miami. However, instead of the killer getting the attention, Malcolm began getting the attention for covering the murders. So, the line was blurred between Malcolm covering the story, and being part of the story. And as you can imagine, this does not go over too well with the killer. The movie then turns into your classic suspense film.
I really enjoyed this movie. I can safely say that I still haven’t seen a Kurt Russell movie that I didn’t like. Kurt Russell was as likable as you would expect Kurt Russell to be. He really stood out among a great cast. Mariel Hemingway was OK. She really didn’t have much to work with. Her character was a typical 80s female romantic partner/nag/woman in peril. She did as well as anybody could do with that role. The killer was creepy, which was cool. He kind of reminded me of a Dirty Harry villain.
I did really enjoy how the movie made a solid social commentary statement, and at the same time, was a sold suspense story. The movie title refers to the late summer months in Florida, where they get nasty storms every day at the same time.
Does the movie stand the test of time?
Story-wise I feel it does stand the test of time, between the theme and the suspense. However, there is a lot of outdated material, such as the newspaper itself. The phones are very old school as well. As much as I despise remakes, I think this is one instance where an updated version wouldn’t be too bad of an idea. It seems that a lot more people are looking for attention these days. Malcolm could be an online reporter or a blogger.
Worth the Return?
I would definitely recommend this movie. Especially, if you are a Kurt Russell fan. The cast and story are great.
4 stalker/killer phone calls