In this crime drama, Gary Burghoff--best-known as Walter "Radar" O'Reilly from the film and TV series "M*A*S*H"--plays Fleck, a psychopath who snatches children out of shopping malls or playgrounds and sells them back to their parents.
One of the razor-loving Fleck's kidnap attempts goes sour, and a strangled child is found floating in the river. Two undercover cops, Armand Conti (Fred Carpenter) and Marty Bannon (Donnie Kehr), are taken off their current assignment--trailing local drug lord Sharif (Mark McKelvey)--in order to
investigate the child's murder. While on the streets, the two cops are startled by a nearly naked man (Alan Popper) with a gun in one hand, a bible in the other; he informs them that "the Anti-Christ" is "taking the children" before being shot by a nervous backup patrolman. Though the rest of the
precinct writes him off as a loony, Marty decides to dig deeper into his case, going to visit the old Gypsy fortune-teller, Esmerelda Zolotov, with whom the naked man lived. Esmerelda suggests that her ex-roommate may have been possessed by the devil, but Marty suspects a more secular explanation.
Meanwhile, there's another kidnapping, and the police send Marty to the ransom exchange in place of the child's father. The exchange is botched, and while the cops get the child back safely, they let Fleck get away. Fleck meets up with Sharif, who's been using Fleck's ill-gotten gains to
bankroll his cocaine business. This time, though, Sharif tries to stiff Fleck, who snaps and kills Sharif and his three goons.
Back at the police station, Conti discovers the connection between the kidnappings; he follows his hunch all the way back to Esmerelda's, where he dukes it out with a creepy henchman (Tom Poster) before a gun-wielding Esmerelda reveals herself to be a gun-wielding Fleck in his mother's wig and
dress. Before killing Conti, Fleck delivers a windy monologue about how he murdered his inattentive mother with a razor blade, but before he can pull the trigger Conti plugs him in the neck with a throwing knife.
It's clear that Burghoff is reaching for that memorable bad-guy performance a la Anthony Perkins' Norman Bates in PSYCHO and Anthony Hopkins' Hannibal Lecter in SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, but his reach far exceeds his grasp. At first, Fleck comes across as a genuinely scary guy: in his first
kidnapping we see him snatch a young boy in a department store, knock him unconscious, put him in little-girl makeup and a dress, and walk him right past his hysterical mother. But when we learn that the motive for his kidnapping is simply to keep himself in cocaine, Fleck instantly slips from the
rank of spooky psychopath to sleazy junkie. Perhaps knowing this, the writers tacked on Fleck's matricidal and cross-dressing tendencies (a direct rip-off of PSYCHO's Bates); they should have spent more money on Burghoff's makeup, though--never for a moment is the viewer fooled as to who is behind
Esmerelda's veil. (Graphic violence, extensive nudity, sexual situations, adult situations, profanity.)
Cast & Details See all »
- Released: 1993
- Rating: NR
- Review: In this crime drama, Gary Burghoff--best-known as Walter "Radar" O'Reilly from the film and TV series "M*A*S*H"--plays Fleck, a psychopath who snatches children out of shopping malls or playgrounds and sells them back to their parents. One of the razor-… (more)