Director – Norman Mailer (Wild 90, Beyond the Law)
Starring – Ryan O’Neal (Slumber Party Slaughter, Bones), Isabella Rossellini (Death Becomes Her, Tales from the Crypt), and Debra Stipe (In the Heat of the Night, Murder, She Wrote)
Release Date – 1987
Rating – 3/5
Blu Release – 4/5
When most of us think about Vinegar Syndrome we think about often overlooked horror titles and exploitation flicks. That’s one of the reasons I fell in love with them many years ago when I first started reviewing movies for Horror Society. Their releases are some of my most valued in my collection and I always look forward to the next horror and exploitation release to come my way.
However, I never expected to see a murder mystery with instances of comedy and drama to come to blu from Vin Syn yet here I am watching and reviewing Tough Guys Don’t Dance from director and author Norman Mailer. I was on the fence about this one when they announced the release but I love Vin Syn so I was open minded about it.
**Spoiler Alert** The film follows author and small-time drug dealer Tim (O’Neal) who finds himself recollecting the previous days to his estranged father where he reveals a web of adultery, drug use, betrayal, and murder. **Spoiler Alert**
Tough Guys Don’t Dance is not the movie I expected to be reviewing for Horror Society but I also wasn’t expecting to like a murder mystery with humor, drug use, and fake southern accents. I surprisingly enjoyed it but I don’t want to watch it again nor will I ever have the desire to hit play while it’s in the disc drive. This is one of the films where once is enough.
The acting in this one is hit or miss with me. I liked Ryan O’Neal and Lawrence Tierney in their roles but I found myself laughing at most of the rest of the cast. I don’t know what Wings Hauser was on while filming but he had me laughing my ass off through most of the film. His intensity in his scenes with that mischievous smile was almost out of place but it was fun. Also, Debra Stipe held each and every scene she was in. I absolutely loved her weird ass southern accent and how free loving and wild she was. Her character was so easy to fall in love with. However, I was not a fan of Isabella Rossellini. He performance was very lackluster when compared to the rest of the cast.
The story for this one is a murder noir with some intentional and not so intentional humor with a killer twist that I was not expecting. I’m fairly quick to determine who the murderer is but this one really did leave me guessing until the reveal. Some of the scenes are little drawn out and dialogue heavy but I actually enjoyed those scenes.
Finally, the film has some blood but the deaths are done off screen. We don’t get any gore and one scene does feature a ridiculous looking dead dog that did make me chuckle. Overall, Tough Guys Don’t Dance was a fun and exciting film with ridiculous characters and some laughs. It doesn’t have much of a replay factor but I still liked it for a first time watch. I highly recommend it.
Region A Blu-ray
Newly scanned & restored in 2k from its 35mm interpositive
“You Don’t Have to Make Me Any Nuttier” – brand new interview with actor Wings Hauser
“Shooting In Helltown” – brand new interview with cinematographer John Bailey
“My Dad In Motion” – an interview with Michael Mailer, son of director Norman Mailer
“A Crazy, Wild, Spooky Movie” – Brand new interview with J. Michael Lennon, Norman Mailer’s archivist and biographer
“Archival Featurette: Norman Mailer in Provincetown”
Reversible cover artwork
English SDH subtitles