The Junkman review by Matt Fuerst


H.B. Halicki The Man
H.B. Halicki is the name of the man that wrote, produced, directed, starred in, was the stunt coordinator and caterer for The Junkman. Ok, I made up the catering part. But the rest of it, all true. H.B., "Toby" to his friends, is one of the most interesting success stories around. BY about age 14 Toby decided he had enough of his home life, and took a powder. He went west, and became a mechanic. By about age 17 he had acquired a junkyard, which was the way he became insanely rich. H.B. would put together two unfunctional cars to make one good one, sell it for a huge markup, and sell the remaining parts of the other two. Nothing went to waste, and almost all of it was profit. By about 1974, Toby was worth hundreds of millions of dollars. With his wealth, he managed to accumulate both the worlds largest collection of toys, as well as the worlds largest collection of cars. At that point, what does a man that craves action and attention do? Well, they decide to start filming their own movies. This background was the genesis that brought about the original Gone in 60 Seconds. Toby took all of his toys and cars and wrote a movie around them. Gone was very successful, and grossed something like $50 Million for Toby, only increasing his wealth, appetite for filmmaking and admittedly large ego. About 8 years later, Toby then created The Junkman project, which we will get to shortly. After The Junkman, Toby took dove right back in and released the somewhat less popular Deadline: Autotheft. After Deadline, Toby, hoping to recapture the magic of the original, scripted Gone in 60 Seconds II. He wanted to out-do all three previous movies, and planned for more car crashes, more effects, basically more of everything. Two weeks into filming, Toby and the crew were setting up a shot in the town of Tonowanda, New York. It involved a car running into a pole, knocking into a water tower, and the water tower crashing down. The legs of the water tower were already partially cut to ensure that the tower fell appropriately, and a crane was attached to the tower for safety. Well, as you can already probably tell, something ominous is about to happen. The pole and water tower gave away, and a H.B. Halicki Pancake was promptly made.

The Junkman
Toby didn't get too imaginative with the storyline for this one. (Soon, it'll be clear why I gave you the Toby history lesson above.) It involves the story of a boy that left home when he was young, went out and became a mechanic, then bought his own junkyard, got pretty rich, and decided to film a movie called "Gone in 60 Seconds". This hero's name is Harlan B. Hollis. Sound familar?

Well old Harlan is on the set and wrapping up Gone... and has been booked by his PR Guy Mike to visit the James Dean Festival to promote the movie. I guess... it's never really made clear why he has to go to the James Dean Festival, he just does I guess. Well, on the way there, some bad mojo starts happenin. A group of assassins have been mysteriously dispatched to kill Harlan! Those dirty rats! At about 20 minutes in Harlan starts getting "attacked" from two airplanes and three cars, and the hijinks and hilarity ensue for the next 40 minutes or so. Most of the time is spent showing cop cars starting up and heading to the scene (Harlan owns every car you seen in the flick, and he owned a LOT of cop cars) and seeing cars rear-end each other. The rear-end is the msot common used device in this flick. There must be about... a trillion rear-enders going on here.

Well eventually the bad guys manage to kill Harlan, but, wink wink, I don't think I'm letting too much go to tell you that they really don't knock off our hero Harlan. He's indestructable! Harlan comes back from the dead and finds out who planned the devious plot against him, and exacts his revenge!

Analysis of The Junkman
Well, this one won't stress your noggin out too much. Unfortunetly there are a lot of weak points about this one. The storyline is the major one. There are just tons of plot holes, things that don't make sense, and jumping from scene to scene here. But, this isn't the kind of movie you go to see for plot, right? The cars are neat and pretty nostalgic, but as I mentioned before, you better be a big fan of the rear-ender-fender-bender becuase that device is used over and over. And over and over. Along with the story, the acting for the most part is really hammy. Harlan cast all of his friends and family in this one. For the most part delivery is on par with a rice crispy fart, dry and with a hollow ring to it. I could honestly overlook these flaws, but the one inexcusable function of the movie is the editing. At the end of the movie, I looked it up swearing that Toby must have done the editing himself, but nope, Warner E. Leighton (not even a psuedoname for H.B. Halicki unfortunetly) is the one to blame for the mess. Man, there are just funky cuts everywhere. The bad guys are having a meeting about their devious plan, and then all of a sudden we are looking at the eyepiece of a camera rolling dailies from the ficticious Gone in 60 Seconds. Snap! Right back to the bad guys. It's so odd. No, it's not an artful montage or a visual allegory. It's just hyper jumping around for the sake of jumping around. It's super bizarre.

The best reason to check out The Junkman is for a look into the world of the independent production. I have to admit Toby did do a great job with a lot of the technical merits of the film. The DVD cleaned up the original print and it is really quite colorful and rich to look at. They did a great job. It's just amazing to think that pretty much everything you see Toby owned, and just gathered it all in one place, bought some cameras and some film and started rolling. Sure, he wasn't the first guy to make an independent, studio free movie on his own, but he did it on a grand scale, and made it all look pretty good. Really interesting. The DVD has a great look into the life of Toby, a featurette made in '82 on the Making of The Junkman and some other good insights. All of these things can't make up for the weakness of the movie, but if you are a student of film, it may be worth picking up and checking out. If you are a student of rear-end car jokes ("huh huh huh, he said rear end like five times in this review") then this baddie is your graduate-level thesis paper material.

3 out of 10 Jackasses
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