Thursday, 1 December 2016

Cohen & Tate (1988)

“The antithesis of buddy-buddy movies”

Eric Red’s directorial debut (he followed it up with BODY PARTS in 1991) gets a UK dual format DVD and Blu-ray release courtesy of Arrow Films.
Nine year old Travis Knight (Harley Cross) has witnessed a mob shooting. He and his family are under the witness protection programme. But the mob want to talk to Travis and they employ Cohen (older, deafer Roy Scheider channeling icy Peter Cushing-ness) and Tate (younger, more unstable Adam Baldwin).

Got that? Because all of that is given to you in the very first few seconds of this film (credit roll included) and if you blink you might miss it. What then follows is one of the best, fast-paced, well-acted, stripped down to the bone road thrillers of the 1980s. The ‘safe’ house gets raided, everyone gets blown away and Travis is kidnapped to endure a long night drive to Houston. He tries to escape, and manages at one point, only to fall back into his captors'  hands. Realising Cohen and Tate don’t get on, Travis contrives to turn one against the other in the hope that building tension will lead to one of them killing the other.

As well as plenty of great bits of suspense, director Eric Red earns points for some imaginative set pieces, especially during one protracted scene near the end set in the Texas oilfields. With the sun rising and the weird automaton-like pumps presiding rhythmically over the violence, this could easily be something from a Paul Verhoeven science fiction film.

Red gives us a great ending, too, which I won’t give away if you haven't seen it, suffice to say it still feels like a breath of fresh air compared to the number of contrived and overly saccharine endings movies like this tend to go for. 

Arrow’s Blu-ray looks great. For extras we get an Eric Red commentary track ported over from a previous release. There’s also a twenty-minute ‘look back’ at the film with Red, director of photography Victor J Kemper, editor Edward Abroms and actors Harley Cross and Kenneth McCabe. There are two extended scenes, trailer and a stills gallery. If you get the first pressing you’ll also get a booklet with new writing on the film by Kim Newman.
        From an era when buddy-buddy cop movies were all the rage, Eric Red’s COHEN AND TATE remains a refreshing, fast-paced, unique not-at-all-buddy movie that’s well worth a look in this new edition. 

Eric Red's COHEN & TATE is out from Arrow Films in a dual format Blu-ray and DVD release on Monday 5th December 2016

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