I suppose TIGHTROPE is more of a thriller than a horror film, but it scratches my horror itch just the same. Plus I’m sure if you asked any of the characters being killed in TIGHTROPE if they felt like they were in a horror movie their answer would be, “Why, yes; yes I do!” I don’t usually have a bunch of patience for police investigations and weird guys in lab coats informing me about blood types, things found under fingernails and tiny miniscule fragments of whatever but when a movie is this relentlessly dank, dark and pervy, it can’t help but hold my interest.
You have to watch it at night though and as late as possible, it might be worthless during the day. I also recommend that even if you catch it on Netflix Streaming that you pretend that you are watching it on Showtime and that at any moment your mom may walk in and be completely scandalized by what’s on the screen.
This is not your typical EASTWOOD movie. With a straight face (not that he has any other) he tells GENEVEIVE BOUJOLD that he wants to lick the sweat of her skin and when a male hooker tells him he won’t know if he likes sex with men until he tries it CLINT snarls, “Maybe I have.” Still waters run deep!
CLINT’s character Wes Block is, on the surface, the typical sturdy and stoic EASTWOOD archetype but spend some time with the guy after hours and you can’t help noticing his piñata is stuffed with Wacky Wafers. Ever since his wife left him for another guy, Block’s once robust male ego has been left as shaky as a Jenga tower. This has resulted in him leaving the dating game behind in favor of popsicle sucking prostitutes and the illusionary sense of power provided by handcuffs. Whatever gets you through the night as they say, but problems arrive when Wes’s taste in one night stands begin to perfectly echo the tastes of a murdering psychopath. It’s almost as if his new found shadowy predilection has developed a life of its own and is making handiwork of violently erasing his debaucherous footprints. Enter love interest Beryl Thibodeaux (BOUJOLD) who is as challenging and self-actualized as Wes’ recent conquests are disposable. Can Wes catch the killer and clear his name while redeeming his spiraling into bacchanalia love life? C’mon it’s still CLINT we’re talking about here!
TIGHTROPE is good! I know CLINT can sometimes come across as a cardboard prig but that’s just because he now looks like a guy who’ll yell at you if you step on his lawn. Way back in 1984 dude was investigating parts of his personality that most leading actors would be too cowardly and image conscious to dream of. (Please never ask me to pick sides between SANDRA LOCKE and CLINT, it would be like choosing between my own memaw and pepaw!) Why did director RICHARD TUGGLE stop making movies? Is it just because OUT OF BOUNDS (1986) flopped? That’s not fair! How come you don’t punish (insert terrible director with a string of flops name here) like that?!
I love TIGHTROPE. If you like horror movies that are not horror movies you will too. Not only does it bravely travel into places you would never enter in real life without a can of Lysol, it also sports an opening kill featuring JAMIE ROSE of JUST BEFORE DAWN! It’s not really a particularly savage kill but it’s one of those great openings that is all full of lady shoes clacking down alleys while a shadow figure lurks behind. Add to that a savory, captured in amber New Orleans setting, a vigorous dose of DAN HEDAYA, an adorable self defense dummy whose eyes light up when you kick it in the crotch, a giant mechanical pizza man brandishing an axe and an honest to goodness evil clown handing out balloons and who can ask for more? This is one of those rare mainstream movies that unapologetically walks on the wild side and is smart enough to lift directly from the slasher and sleaze films of its time. There’s something uniquely personal about it too with EASTWOOD aiming to keep real life Daughter ALLISON (in her film debut) safe from the same darkness he’s prone to court. It’s not always comfortable but it makes me wish CLINT strayed from the beaten path in his movies more often.