Riding with Death (review by Doug Smith)

All right, cool it you turkeys. It’s time to get mellow. That’s right, I’m reviewing a Ben Murphy movie. “Riding with Death” is actually two episodes of the short-lived seventies television show “Gemini Man,” thrown together to make a movie, even though the two episodes really have nothing to do with each other, other than having the same, ultra-cracker guest character played by Jim Stafford. Filled with grooviness, bell bottoms and mod hair cuts, this movie is one of the very many reasons why the sixties should’ve just turned into the eighties and skipped the seventies entirely.

Ben Murphy, who’s one of the coolest turkeys to ever come out of the seventies with any semblance of a career, plays Sam Casey. Katherine Crawford plays Dr. Abby Lawrence. According to the IMDb, this was Katherine’s last acting gig. Go fig. Richard A. Dysart is Leonard Driscoll for at least half of the movie and then William Sylvester takes over, or something. I’m not exactly sure just what hell happens. Don Galloway stars as John Hiller, who has something to do with the movie, I think. I don’t really know what, but just trust me. Alan Oppenheimer, who went on to such great roles as being the voice of The Blob in the 1989 one-shot “Pryde of the X-Men,” plays Dr. Hale. And, finally, Andrew Prine plays Luther Stark, who also has something to do with the movie. I didn’t really notice.

Before I get too far into this, you should know that there are several different versions of this movie on the market. None of them are really any good and any scenes that were deleted or added are simply wasted pieces of celluloid like the whole movie is, so you shouldn’t really care. All you really need to know is that Sam Casey works for the government and has the ability to turn invisible. I suppose you’d like to know how he got that ability. Damn you. Basically, a satellite crashed in the ocean, he went diving to find it, it blew up and covered him with radioactivity and there you go. Remember, radioactivity is never dangerous, but it will always give you super powers. So kids, go ahead and play with that reactor. You’ll be glad you did.

Now then, on to the first episod … I mean first part of the movie. Dr. Hale has cooked up a nutty formula for wackiness! Plus a formula for an ultra-efficient fuel additive. In order to prevent the international oil producers from destroying the formula and its creator, the government has Sam transport both Dr. Hale and the liquid under cover in a moving truck. Little do they know that Dr. Hale is only in it for the money and that he didn’t invent anything more than a highly volatile liquid that could explode with the slightest bump. Halfway through the ride, Dr. Hale is smuggled out of the truck by his workers, while Dr. Abby is smuggled in. Dr. Hale then hops on a chopper with his evil cohort and follows Sam. Sam, of course, is busy being mellow, so he doesn’t notice anything and keeps on talking with his new trucker friend, Buffalo Bill (Jim Stafford).

So the movie goes on for a little while with Buffalo Bill shrieking country songs over the CB radio and Sam Casey looking extremely mellow, until Dr. Hale has Sam’s breaks cut. Just when we think Sam is about to be blown sky high, he comes up on Bill’s mud flaps and Bill saves the day! Sam figures out that the whole thing is a fraud – about damn time, I might add – and rescues Abby from the back of the truck and drives the truck out to the desert and it explodes. The end? Nope.

Unfortunately, the end is about as elusive as Robert Denby is. There’s still a whole friggin’ hour left. I think it has to do with racing or some damn thing, I don’t know. And Robert Denby tries to blow stuff up. And Bill screams and hollers and farts like the yokel he is. And his girlfriend whines out lines. And Sam is mellow. And, my god, this movie hurt. It hurt so much. I want to start slapping this movie and perhaps never stop. If I ever have to do another “movie” that’s really two episodes of a stupid show put together without any cohesion, I’m going to do it with a full bottle of Captain Morgan’s and a 24-pack of Coke. I give it a half-yak.