Bloody Wednesday (1988)

Once again, a movie poster that conveys way more action than is actually in this movie.

Bloody Wednesday is ostensibly based on the San Ysidro McDonald’s massacre in 1984, in which a man named James Huberty opened fire in a McDonald’s for 77 minutes, killing 21 people and injuring 19 more before being killed by a SWAT sniper. Does it sound sleazy to make a movie about a man going insane and committing a mass shooting? Well, I’m pretty sure that’s what this movie was going for. It feels like the camera was soaked in Vaseline before this movie got filmed, and it just feels gross.

Instead of the real life Huberty, Bloody Wednesday focuses on a mechanic named Harry who one day in the midst of a divorce realizes he no longer fits into society. He walks into church naked, gets committed, and then moves into an abandoned hotel. Once there, he steadily begins to hallucinate. This leads him to slowly become violent, until he hallucinates murder, before finally walking into a cafe and opening fire. And then, after the movie blows out your ear drums with continuous gunfire, it’s over. The credits roll, and I noticed that the word “Sergeant” was misspelled.

The massacre at the end of the film is where all of this is leading, but it takes a long time to get there; Harry’s gotta go mad first, and he does it by hallucinating events and people inside his hotel. Yes, it’s basically a cheap knock on The Shining, only with less class. Some rooms are dingy, some areas are wrecked, but Harry’s a sweaty guy in a filthy undershirt, and he spends his time interacting with people that may or may not be real. That’s where the movie gets tricky. You see, Harry hallucinates about his doctor and fantasizes about some strange relationship with her. I get that. I get that the bellhop isn’t real, and some of the guests are known to be long dead and know it themselves. Yet there are FBI agents, cops, and a trio of crooks that might actually be wandering around.

Why do I think they’re real? Because one of those crooks is how Harry gets the uzi he uses in the massacre! If that guy isn’t real, then how does Harry get the gun? If he is real, that makes things even stranger, because he would know full well Harry is nuts. Earlier in the film, Harry puts the crooks on trial before a teddy bear and plays Russian Roulette with them. Why are you giving him a machine gun now? Also, the teddy bear trial scene is probably the most interesting moment of the film, which tends to gravitate towards boredom when it isn’t trying to confuse the audience.

Eventually all of this hallucination and back and forth with family, the doctor, employment, and so on leads us to his doctor realizing that Harry has gone crazy, so she tries to get him committed and inform the police. Here’s where the “message” portion of the film comes in, because nobody will do anything. Society is about to let the massacre happen, and it comes in the form of a head doctor who refuses to let Harry be committed over fear of being sued and a sheriff who is genuinely terrible at his job. Nobody listens, and Harry easily walks into the cafe.

What follows is a solid 5 minutes of shooting. I don’t mean shots being fired and returned, I genuinely mean the shooting sound effect lasts for five minutes as people and objects are gunned down, sometimes repeatedly from different angles or in different cuts. People hide in fear, squibs spray blood, corpses fall, and my ears are still ringing. Harry reloaded once during the entire thing, so I guess automatic uzis hold somewhere in the realm of 5000 bullets. One cook went face down in the eggs. I felt the worse for that guy, because this movie literally gave him egg on his face.

Bloody Wednesday just feels…scuzzy. Yes, it rips off a better film, and yes, it plays on a tragedy. It’s exploitative and trashy. I felt a little like I did when watching the likes of Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, but that was a much better constructed movie. This one just makes me shake my head and wonder why it was made.

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