The Heisters ★★★

Film #26 of 35 in my Hoop-Tober 2018 challenge

Here is the first of two Tobe Hooper-directed films I'm watching for this year's challenge. Although this is a short, not a feature, there are two aspects that make it special as part of the Hooper filmography. First, as one of his earliest attempts at storytelling, it gained him an invitation "to be entered in the short subject category for an Academy Award." Unfortunately, the final cut could not be completed by the entry deadline, so the film never appeared in competition.

More interesting, however, to fans of Hooper's horror work, this ridiculously comedic romp pokes fun at Hammer Films, the British purveyors of jump scares, who influenced the fledgling photographer and director to pursue a career in cinema. It's a send-up but also a homage to the genre and the studio.

The opening scene shows three men running through a wooded area. They each wear a top hat and cloak, so it is hard to tell them apart initially. After they arrive at their castle-like hideout, however, we see a "Wanted" poster for their capture, dead or alive, and we know them to be the notorious thieves Hune Boone (Tom Billups), Angelo Thraxini (Norris Domingue) and Villamosh Anousslavsky (Larry Ray).

Without dialog, we see the three heisters divide up their loot, which consists of coins and gemstones. There's a squabble over who gets what, resulting in a swap of cash for a large diamond that turns out to be sculpted ice. While Boone experiments in his laboratory with a potion that makes roaches gigantic, Thraxini challenges the swindler Anousslavsky to a duel at ten paces with his weapon of choice, cream pies.

Touches like bones inside gingerbread men and a "living" girdle capable of strangling a person make sure we don't take anything here seriously. Hooper manages to work in several scantily clad ladies, too, just for eye candy. For the fun of it, this is worth watching and readily available on YouTube.

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