I got a call last night at 3am. It was none other than Rita Hayworth on the other end. The conversation went something like this:
AF: Hey, aren’t you dead?
RH: Shut up cockface. Now listen here and listen good. I need three jars of Ron Perlman’s sweat, don’t ask why, just get it done.
AF: Well shucks, that sounds tricky. Will Tom Waits’ do?
RH: Yes but be snappy about it, my plan for the resurrection of the old Hollywood studio system will not wait.
AF: Actually if that’s what you’re doing then I’ll have to give you the big fuck off.
RH: Ok so I was a bit harsh I’ll admit…
It was then that I hung up the phone. Stupid fuck has all these grand ideas about giving the classic system the Lazarus treatment, an awry bunch of bollocks I say. She ain’t realising the full repercussions of her proposed action. Where the hell are down-to-earth actors like Jeff Fahey going to scuttle when old Hayworth succeeds in her maniacal plans?
I’ll tell you where, they’ll be shunted off into the Forbidden Zone before you could say “I hear Universal considered producing Parker Kane 2.” Off living in the wastes, eating trees straight out of the arid ground, roaming in search of that last studio exec to say no to a five hour biblical epic starring Cory Feldman as Moses. Bruce Campbell forced to battle Jeffrey Combs over who gets Brian Dennehy’s DVD royalties for FX2: The Deadly Art Of Illusion, a Dennehy now a corpse lying splattered at the bottom of a ravine after being ravaged by an angry Michael Biehn.
There would certainly be no The Underground, a Jeff Fahey outing from 1997. Tell me Russian formalists, what the hell’s the fabula all about here? “Well,” up arises Bakhtin from the carpet. “Fuck you,” I say, “I want Propp, you cunt!” Bakhtin dissolves into the ether, only to be replaced by the white ‘tache of Vladimir Propp. “Where the fuck’s the rest of you?” I yell. “I was told by the chief that this was all you needed,” he replies. “Jesus Christ as long as those good people get the gist of what Fahey’s up to this time, that’s all that’s needed.” A sneering gesture of the left hand was enough to prompt his exegesis on the subject. “A group of rap people start getting killed by some shootists in Abe Lincoln masks. Fahey is a cop, and he and his partner begin to investigate all this bloodshed. During an on-location visit, Fahey’s partner Scully is gunned down. Fahey is then teamed up with a young cop rap fan, and hijinks ensue.”
That Propp, he knows the score when it comes to informing of the story and plot and narrative and all that old fashioned babble. So Fahey and his Sammy Jackson Jr partner must attempt to solve the case, who’s doing all this low down killing? I’m sure if anyone could handle the mystery it would be Fahey, his powers of intuition amazed The Inquisition back in the day, and still have the voltage for it today. His partner was gunned down out of shot and far away but yet Fahey knew what had happened, and thus his yelling and general disdain.
As a side portion of the narrative we get a glimpse of Fahey’s love life. Ya see, he is a hardcore dedicated officer of the law, an upholder of those words and statements laid down by the guys with bulging wallets and top hats. This does not please his wife, the luscious Candy. Marital problems are only another concern of the man, on top of all that nasty death business. But it does show the mighty capacity of Fahey, only he could have the mental vigour to eschew time with his blonde, lingerie model wife to go off running around with his little cop friends. All power to him I say, I’m sure I wouldn’t have the fortitude for that kind of asexuality.
How does this rate on the filmography de Fahey? Pretty highly I’d say, pretty pretty highly. Fahey gets to indulge in a barroom brawl initiated by a few racist slurs spouted in his partner’s direction by some fellow bar patrons acting more rowdily than the commentary on The Goonies DVD. Marvel as Fahey is forced to give a biker/redneck the Harrison Ford punch to the jowls. I almost slipped out of time at that very instant, such was its velocity. Then later on, some more action during the final rapid car chase. Fahey, in order to get to the bad guy’s vehicle, has to take himself to the roof of his car (don’t worry, his partner is behind the wheel), and, after a while of sliding about, jumps to another car using it as a springboard to get to our villain’s limo. It was all very exciting.
But this isn’t just a piece of action celluloid. The mismatched partnership instigates many fun moments, such as the musical differences as the two argue over what musicology will rule over the car’s acoustics. Or their mutual exchange of race-related humour. Almost as good as Seagal and Jackie Brown in Nico.
The Underground, an apt title if there were any. This film, despite the occasional explosion, is low-fi embodied, it’s a ground level attack on the industry. Fahey has always been a juggernaut of independent cinema, a mountainous paragon of the indie, continuously present for the proletariat of the world of the motion image. Fahey will crush the studios and their various hegemonies in time, with films like this, and the more recent Scorpius Gigantus, it’s only a matter of time. Hayworth won’t get away with it!
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