Michael Sauter
August 09, 1991 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The Art of Dying

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
R
runtime
90 minutes
performer
Michael J. Pollard, Wings Hauser, Sarah Douglas
director
Wings Hauser
author
Joseph Merhi
genre
Mystery and Thriller

We gave it an D

This time, just as last time — or was it the time before? — Wings Hauser is a maverick cop hunting a madman in The Art of Dying. This particular madman in this particular made-for-video movie (starring and directed by Hauser) has a gimmick remarkably similar to a Batman comic-book villain called the Film Freak. He films his victims while killing them, in grim reenactments of classic movie death scenes: A starlet is stabbed in the shower a la Psycho, and two studs get chainsaw massacred, as in the Scarface remake. While Hauser effectively frames the action in a seamy Hollywood setting, he never really succeeds in drawing any connection between the milieu and the madness.

In fact, nothing here makes much narrative sense; everything’s just for outrageous show, from the hero’s off-duty kinky escapades to the superfluous appearances of such ”name” performers as Sarah Douglas and Michael J. Pollard. Worst of all are those referential death scenes, which are so crudely re-created that they leave you wishing you’d rented the original films. A movie this bad should just never invite comparisons. D

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