Running Scared (1980) A series of military mishaps leads to airboat chase scenes and terrible Judge Reinhold jokes.

Theme Song: None.

Interesting Dated References: People caring about relations with Cuba/South America; Hollywood making a movie about relations with Cuba/South America

Best Line: None.

Social Context: I wish this movie was in any way enjoyable so I could care what it was about. It’s a fictional “what if,” dealing with loosely-construed details surrounding the Bay of Pigs invasion, specifically a CIA-backed group of Cuban exiles. Only this time, Judge Reinhold is along for the ride, and the writers and editors can’t decide if it’s a counter-espionage action adventure or slapstick romance. And don’t give me that “it can be both” bullshit.

Summary: Two soldiers decide to go AWOL and stow away on a cargo plane. The drunk one, Leroy (Reinhold, Beverly Hills Cop II, Beverly Hills Cop III, Beethoven’s 3rd, Beethoven’s 4th, The Santa Clause 2, The Santa Clause 3), decides to steal guns and equipment on his way out. While stowed away, Leroy takes a picture of a hidden air force base, and his companion, Chas (Ken Wahl), leaves the negative on the ground, launching a series of events involving chase scenes and gunfire.

Instead of making an interesting story, the filmmakers decided to lean heavily on scenery (Southern Florida national parks) and blew the entire budget on airboat rentals so they could film a massive, 6-hour chase scene and cram it inside the film’s 96-minute running time.

Then every time the movie gets too serious, they throw in a jokey line for Reinhold to deliver, or slip in a goofy, completely out-of-place scene. Seriously, when ducking through the backroads of the Florida swamplands and being pursued by the CIA and Cuban exiles, our duo happens upon a BBQ shack filled with young adults dancing. It’s the middle of the fucking day! Then they take two girls to make out!

None of it makes any sense. If you like counter-espionage with a hint of buddy comedy, watch Sky High instead.

If you’re super curious about what southern Florida looked like in the early 80s (even though it’s supposed to be the early 60s) before it was swallowed by the ocean, this movie may be of interest to you.

Worth Mentioning:
– Terrible tonal jumps aside, Annie McEnroe (True Stories) does a good job playing an innocent bystander/love interest caught up in all the espionage. Her and Chas (Wahl) have a good rapport and their scenes while on the run are effective until you realize you don’t understand or care why they are on the run.

– Pat Hingle (Commissioner Gordon from the 80s/90s Batman run of films) has a brief scene as Chas’ dad.

– Do you care that John Saxon (Enter the Dragon, Cannibal Apocalypse, Blood Beach, Battle Beyond the Stars) was in this? Because I don’t.

– Seriously, lots of Florida swampland scenery and airboat action if that’s your thing.

Poster and Box Art: Because it deals with Cuba and Panama and wars, Running Scared was released in several foreign markets and has some nice foreign posters. But since nobody actually cares about this movie, I can’t find any high resolution versions, so all you get is this Thorn EMI Betamax cover, which is terrible.

Availability: I can’t understand why Code Red would release a restored Blu-ray transfer of this movie.

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