WILD THING (1987)
Article 3996 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Max Reid
Featuring Robert Knepper, Kathleen Quinlan, Robert Davi
What it is: Tarzan in the city
A young boy, after having witnessed the murder of his parents by a drug lord and a corrupt cop, is brought up in the streets of the city by a mad woman. When the woman dies, the kid grows into a legendary figure known as the Wild Thing, who does battle with the forces of evil in the city.
I’ve covered quite a few Tarzan movies for my series here, but I’ve always considered the Tarzan series to really belong to the marginalia of fantastic cinema. Transplanting the Tarzan stories to an urban setting (the “asphalt jungle”) is, to my mind, another half-step away from the realm of the fantastic, and despite the fact that the legends say that Wild Thing can turn into a cat, there’s really nothing in the movie to back up anything other than the fact that he keeps a cat as a pet. Still, I couldn’t help but notice that the original story came from John Sayles, and I suspect that he’s responsible for some of the touches of wit and bizarre, offbeat characters in the movie; because of this, the movie is often a lot more fun than it might otherwise be, and there’s even a reference to ALLIGATOR before it’s all over. Still, the movie is somewhat doomed to succumb to the cliches of the urban action movie, and it does that indeed, especially in the Wild Thing’s final standoff with the drug lord. Still, this isn’t too bad for what amounts to an odd little curio.