LUCKY STIFF (1988)
Directed by Anthony Perkins
After walking down the aisle several times but never actually getting through the marriage ceromony thanks to his brides-to-be, unlucky in love Ron can’t believe his fortune when beautiful blonde Cynthia shows an interest in him during a skiing holiday. Inviting him to her family home for Christmas, little does Ron know that he’ll be more than the special guest – he’s the main course!
I stumbled across comedy Lucky Stiff wrongly placed in the horror category on Amazon Prime. Despite its links to cannibalism, this is far from a horror as you can get but is fun all the while. What really drew my interest in the movie though was who’d directed it: none other than Norman Bates himself, Anthony Perkins. Having only directed two films, the other being Psycho III, I wondered what such a skilled actor as Perkins could do with a comedy.
The premise for the film is pretty simple. Rotund guy struggles to keep his fiances and finds himself in a “too-good-to-be-true” scenario. Showing Cynthia’s family to be cannibals from the beginning means the viewer knows what’s coming but poor Ron doesn’t and it’s just a matter of time before the he’ll find out. Here’s hoping he does so before he ends up on the dinner table with an apple in his mouth! It doesn’t take too long for Ron to realise something isn’t right with Cynthia’s family though, particularly her butcher brother Ike and his deodorant-licking sons. The seed of doubt is planted early on but his belief in love and in Cynthia shields him from the awful truth that it may be his last Christmas ever.
Lucky Stiff is a cheesy film but knows it. Joe Alaskey shines as the lovable Ron and provides much of the humour in the film. His idea to pretend to have sex with his imaginary wife in the honeymoon suite, after the embarassment of holidaying alone, is pretty hilarious as the couple in the room next door listen in with shock. The hotel staff’s constant reminders of his singledom only help to push him into the arms of Cynthia who’s ready waiting, arms open wide and belly rumbling. Her plans could be blown though as her brother Ike, played by Jeff Klober (who reminded me a lot of Jack Noseworthy), is eager to carve up the new fancy man well ahead of Christmas. It’s just fortunate that Grandma is coming over for tea and she likes her Xmas meal fresh!
Corny and predictable but a laugh, Lucky Stiff is a bit of light entertainment that would do well as a Sunday afternoon flick. With hardly any depth to it, it should be taken at face value and will appeal to those who like American family comedies, even if there’s a couple of darker scenes to it (though nothing too heavy). I’ll admit this was not quite what I was expecting from the man who played a murderer and a perverted vicar, but I always like surprises!
Here’s an interview I found with Anthony Perkins on the film