Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Court Cases and Courtships: Hanging Heart (1983)

Hanging Heart (1983)
Rating: *
Starring: Barry Wyatt, Jake Henry and Francine Lapensée

It appears everyone has the hots for Denny (Barry Wyatt), may it be his lady co-stars in the experimental homoerotic play he leads or Elliot (Jake Henry), the middle aged lawyer renting a room with him. Life for our little actor goes very hairy one day though when, after making love in the theater with one of the actresses, Denny becomes the prime suspect after a caretaker found him holding her lifeless strangled body. He gets thrown in jail, gets roughed up a bit, witnessed two inmates getting what-what in the butt, but gets released on bail with the help of Elliot, who then proceeds to defend him in the case, much to the anger of the police and lead prosecutor.
From that point on, Hanging Heart spends less as a slasher movie and a lot (and I mean a lot) more as a psychological courtroom drama reeking of nasty cheese, misplaced dark humor and tons of homoerotic themes and imagery. The only time the film ever remembered it's a bodycounter flick is during a couple of murders involving the other cast and crew at the theatre as the killer dons a slasher-friendly get-up of a creepy black wig covering their face and long black coat with matching gloves inspired by Italian gialli. Apart from that, we're mostly forced to sit through Denny breaking down as he gets repeatedly blamed for the killings, defend himself in court while opposing parties antagonize him, relive a childhood trauma involving a horrible child rape and a matricide, all the while interjecting scenes of him and his bare ass in the showers, behind a mental psych gown, as a hallucination of a crucified Christ, etc., for interested parties to ogle at or ponder about its clumsy implications of equating homoeroticism and homophobia with assault and mental illness.

Any attempts to build up its own mystery is lackluster at its worst considering its blatantly obvious red herrings and the unsurprising revelation at the end. If anything, Hanging Heart's all in all direction can be summarized as a test to how much bull the producers and writers can pull off to get the movie pass an hour (and overstay its welcome for another hour) as the overall story just barely made sense. (I mean, I really doubt a suspected killer can be released through bail as often as Denny did, or can anyone be that luscious of a man that almost every woman would look past the supposed crime he committed just for a chance to ride him) To simply put it, this film is one huge mess; its this lack of solid structure and consistency in tone makes it all the more of a chore to sit through and it's little to no wonder why it didn't even get a release in its native land, the good ole' US of A, and instead got video releases overseas. 

Bottom line, Hanging Heart is dry for a slasher, boring for a thriller, offensive for a homoerotica and too cluttered to be a working drama. Not a big loss if one simply decided to skip over this, frankly...

1 female strangled with a pair of pantyhose
1 female strangled with a pair of pantyhose
1 female strangled with a belt (flashback)
1 male strangled to death
1 male shot in the mouth
Total: 5


  1. The Slasher SpotlightMay 18, 2022 at 5:36 AM

    I agree in that I thought this one was really boring as well. I have it on DVD and it's kind of cool to have it in the collection just as a rarity but it has little to no other value.

    1. I suppose there's the novelty of it being an attempt (emphasis on that) at hybridizing a courtroom/legal drama with a slasher(-ish) film. Probably not much else in that vein (the closest that I can think of at the moment is William Friedkin's Rampage).