RANSOM (1977) Oliver Reed heads up this Indiansploitation cash-grab.

ransom_usposterTheme Song:


“Victor’s Song: Shoot ‘Em,” by Roger McGuinn. Recorded when McGuinn was doing the Thunderbyrd thing nobody cared about. It sure explains the plot of the movie way better than the movie does. There’s more character development in the first verse than in the entire movie, but the song still isn’t that very good.

Interesting Dated References: Discussing important things out on the balcony; Seeking revenge when you see something you do not agree with going on.

Best Line: “There are two ways I work. The first one’s my way. The second one’s my way.”

Social Context: Even though there’s no direct correlation in terms of motivation, it’s obvious the writer of Ransom got some of his initial inspiration from the real life case of Mark Essex. Specifically, the opening scene in which cops that are in the police station parking lot are being assassinated from afar. I guess by the late 70s, it was common knowledge if you were a loon with a grudge and a few hundred dollars, you too could get revenge on the man and/or the pigs. I can’t figure out why the whole Indian thing was thrown in, though.

Summary: People in this movie who were more than likely drinking very heavily throughout the production: Oliver Reed, James Mitchum, and John Ireland and his dyed eyebrows. This movie reeks of hard-drinking actors coming together to collect paychecks and deliver a somewhat confusing mess of a story.

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A guy dressed as an Indian shoots arrows at a few cops outside of a police station and demands a bunch of ransom money. Instead of tracking him down and killing him, the sheriff decides to hire Oliver Reed to take care of the problem quietly. You see, this is a planned community full of wealthy millionaires and if they found out about this, property values would decline like it was 2011.

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Dude, look at John Ireland’s moustache and eyebrows. Do you think he was fooling anyone with that dye job? Or is that how the makeup department did him up? For whatever reason, I think the cuss words are censored out of the version I’m watching. Yes, I’m certain of it.

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So Reed barrels into town as some type of problem solver/bounty hunter. He proceeds to steal the microphone of a reporter woman and runs to a bar. He walks in and orders, “Scotch, large, with rocks and a tequila sunrise for the lady,” even though he has not exchanged any words with this woman. Sure enough, the reporter chick walks in, and in the next scene they are at her house preparing to make love.

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Oliver Reed seems to have this sewed up after one cocktail. That’s not even one hour! While he’s getting ready for bed, he says, “You have a puppy in your medicine chest,” and they never explain this or show what the fuck he’s talking about.

Rich white people play tennis; it’s a fact. And they’re the only ones. That’s why they deserve to get shot with arrows. After these crackers get murdered, Reed and co. meet up at the police station to interview a rough looking James Mitchum (yes Robert Mitchum’s son).

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He’s playing an Indian who was in the drunk tank. Then the guy who is shooting everybody shows up, doing a Jim Jones impression.

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He turns in a wallet and the cop recognizes him as a championship diver. Why am I telling you this? Because I’m filling up this review with half-formed subplots that go nowhere, just like in this movie. Be thankful I didn’t tell you about the Oriental trying to buy out the entire community at the beginning of the movie. In fact, aside from the Roger McGuinn song at the END of the movie, this is really the only character background we get. They even censored “son of a bitch” on this version. So things keep mounting and the cops all make sure they are super prompt to hand off the ransom money (which is fake). Eventually Reed and co. prepare to deliver the ransom. This scene goes on for way too long and involves lots of CB talk, grimaces, and our non-Indian Indian friend staring off into the sky. As it goes on, Victor (yes our rebel Indian’s name is Victor) has a zip line, a smoke machine, and some type of bomb all set up on this mountain. He also looks The Ultimate Warrior’s understudy. Somehow the smoke machine is managing to smoke out a helicopter in the air. So, having their air assault hindered, Reed and co. give chase on dirt bikes as lots of funky dramatic horn /timpani drum music plays.

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I was thinking, “How are they going to drag this out?,” and sure enough they do. The dirt bike chase leads Victor the Ultimate Warrior to dive off of a large dam. Everyone immediately assumes he’s dead, and Reed realizes the money they handed off was a dupe. Reed is fucking pissed, so he goes and makes love to his woman.

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So then there’s a final parade, and in a scene echoing the JFK assassination, Victor shoots some old dude who I think is the mayor. Victor really didn’t plan his escape route out well, because he winds up having to cut through the parade. The correct thing would have been to shoot on the side which you need to escape from. Do you think maybe Victor hates rich white people because he is simply a dumb white failure?

After another 45-minute chase scene, ‘Brows gives Victor the money he was demanding, and shoots him as he does so. As Victor falls dead, he whips out a ninja star and throws it right into ‘Brows’ neck, which kills him. Using a ninja star and a smoke machine isn’t really sticking with the whole Indian-warrior vibe.

Reed gets out of town and splits the cash from the ransom with Mitchum. What about this super old airport? Moreover, what about the plane? Orange? Brown? Mustard? Oh, and Reed takes the reporter chick home with him because she was that great of a lover. Oliver Reed is tough looking, but seems to be retaining a lot of water.

Poster and Box Art: Ransom was also screened as Maniac, Assault on Paradise, and The Town That Cried Terror.

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All of these titles seemed to feature riffs on the same few artwork themes.

Availability: If you’re suddenly dying to see this movie, you can get it used VHS on Amazon under the title, Maniac.

2 comments

  • The actor with the dyed eyebrows and mustache is Stuart Whitman not John Ireland as you have stated.

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