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Ciudad Baja

Downtown Heat
Dans Down Town

Spain 1994
produced by
Jess Franco, Eric Lardy
directed by Jess Franco
starring Mike Connors (= Touch Connors), Josephine Chaplin, Oscar Ladoire, Craig Hill, Philippe Lemaire, Lina Romay, Robert Long, Steve Parkman, David Fulton, Antonio Mayans, Victor Israel, Daniel Katz, Mir Ferry, Peggy Ann Down, Ann Novak, Noel J.Sampson, Sergi López, Ángel Mora Aragón, Jordi Valls
written by Jess Franco, Michael Katims, music by Daniel J. White

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Musician Paul's girlfriend Alison has disappeared 2 weeks ago. The police has promised to help out, but there's very little they can do. You know, Alison was a drug addict, and someone high up in the police is on the drugrunners' payroll. So Paul teams up with Alison's lesbian girlfriend Melissa (Lina Romay), and she leads him to the man who supplied Alison with heroin - whom Paul promptly stabs to death. When Paul and Melissa make a getaway, running from the dead man's henchmen, she gets killed, but he gets arrested by the police. Only that the arresting officer Al (Óscar Ladoire) doesn't throw him into jail but persuades him to join an exclusive club formed to fight the drug trade.

You know, Al's partner has been killed by the drugrunners not long ago, which not only infuriated him but also the partner's wife Maria (Josephine Chaplin). Al and Maria know who is behind the drug cartel, Don Tomas, but their chief Badal (Philippe Lemaire) won't allow them to act against Don Tomas. Why, you may ask, because he's on Don Tomas' payroll? Nope, but his boss, the commissioner (David Fulton) is, and he has some information to blackmail Badal with.

However, Al, Maria and Badal are all interested in busting the drug cartel, and because of this mutual interest, they have invited Paul to join. And they have also flown in an American specialist (Mike Connors) to lead them ...

Since there is no way our heroes can capture Don Tomas legally, they kidnap his promiscuous daughter Lapita. Then they tell Don Tomas to go to the opera if he ever wants to see her alive again. At the opera, Al and Badal kill the police commissioner in a spectacular manner - and they are not even suspected, because everybody thinks they were there to guard him. With the commissioner, they leave a note for Don Tomas. Then they go after Don Tomas' other ally, a local banker (Mir Ferry), and drop him off a bridge onto Don Tomas' car, with another message attached. Now Don Tomas should know they mean business.

Our heroes send a message to Don Tomas telling him to give himself up in exchange for his daughter. Don Tomas, who loves the girl more than anything else in the world, is wiolling to do so, but his right hand man has other ideas, and the whole thing leads to a big shootout. Don Tomas gets away, but most of his men die, and at his own house, he is caught up by out heroes, who arrest him fair and square - but then Maria is so overcome by grief over her husband's death that she shoots him ...


Above everything else, Downtown Heat is a rather slick crime thriller. Sure, it was made on a budget, and its vendetta message might not be to everyone's liking, but the whole thing is decently paced, features plenty of action (which admittedly is not all that well-choreographed), it has a cool look to it, and the story is rather well-constructed.

At the same time though, Downtown Heat will very probably be a disappointment for Jess Franco-fans and -detractors alike: Fans will miss the unorthodox camerawork that has become a trademark of his over the years, the dreamlike atmosphere, the spots of surrealism and tongue-in-cheek horror, while detractors will miss the crude ways in which Franco tries to make his low budgets work, the carelessness Franco often puts into certain uninteresting scenes, the badness of many of his films as such. And both fans and detractors will miss the inherent sleaze element of many of his movies, his many excuses to get girls naked, his almost endless nightclub acts and the like.

So no, I'm not saying Downtown Heat is a bad film, actually it's pretty ok routine low budget thriller entertainment - it's just hard to get yourself to believe this is a Jess Franco-film ...

Daniel J.White's musical score, basically modern and jazzy variations of several of his recurring themes, is pretty good though.


review © by Mike Haberfelner


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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD