Eric Roberts, sporting an impressive mullet, plays Marvel comic artist Josh Baker, who tries his luck with the beautiful stranger he sees every day on the way to work. Not one to take 'no' for an answer (making him a sexual predator by today's standards), he pursues the woman (Janine Turner), even buying her a Walkman from a street vendor (she throws it back at him: probably didn't have Megabass and auto-reverse). However, when the woman suddenly collapses in the street and Josh comes to her help, he learns a little more about her: she is diabetic and her name is Cheryl. An ambulance arrives and whisks her to hospital, or so it seems...In reality, Cheryl has been kidnapped by human traffickers, who sell people with diabetes for medical experimentation. When Josh is unable to locate Cheryl at any of the local hospitals, he tries to find out what has happened to her, enlisting the help of grouchy New York detective Lt. Spencer (James Earl Jones), elderly newspaper reporter Elias Zacharai (Red Buttons), and pretty policewoman Sandra Malloy (Megan Gallagher)Like most of director Larry Cohen's movies, The Ambulance is a quirky little B-movie, packed with offbeat performances, often bordering on the camp (Jones, gum in mouth, chews up the scenery and Roberts' mannerisms are strange, to say the least). The film's oddball approach and OTT acting help to make it an entertaining time-waster for fans of cult cinema, despite the somewhat off-putting nature of Josh's flowing locks (not surprised that Cheryl said 'no' to him; do you think Eric Roberts ever looks back at his work from this period and cringes?). Cohen keeps the action moving at a fair lick, with plenty of mystery and peril, and a particularly well-handled final act that features lots of dangerous looking stunt-work.Of the six Cohen films I have seen so far (The Ambulance, Full Moon High, Special Effects, Q-The Winged Serpent, It's Alive, and The Stuff), this is easily my favourite. 6.5/10, rounded up to 7 for Stan Lee as Stan Lee - not much acting required, but at least it's not just a pointless blink-and-you'll-miss-it cameo like in the MCU movies.
Larry Cohen was an independent cultish guerilla filmmaker. He made low budget horror genre films such as Maniac Cop and Q-The Winged Serpent.Cohen was not a director who bothered with permits and would just hit the streets of New York and start shooting with whatever out of work character actor who was willing to work cheaply. In this case James Earl Jones.Eric Roberts hams it up as a comic book artist Josh who meets a young woman called Cheryl during his lunch break, she collapses and is taken away in an old ambulance. Josh searches all the hospitals for her and there is no record of her being admitted, later her roommate also disappears.Cheryl a diabetic has been abducted by a sinister doctor intending to conduct experiments on her and other people who have been abducted.Josh's frantic search and a conspiracy theory about a deadly ambulance on the streets of New York does not convince the police such as Lt Spencer (James Earl Jones) who takes a dismissive view of Josh. However a veteran journalist Elias (Red Buttons) is more helpful.This is a silly choppy thriller that found an audience on video rentals back in the early 90s. It mixes genres from comedy, horror and thriller. Roberts is both intense and comic, most of the cast know the script is bizarre nonsense.It is a shame that Cohen could not make a more coherently plotted film, but maybe he knew that his B movie audience were not as demanding of something such as a tighter plot.Josh works for Marvel comics, the film has a cameo from Stan Lee in a horrific wig, more terrifying than the creepy ambulance that whisks people away.
More and more I love the work of writer/director Larry Cohen and I can only encourage people to check out his versatile imagination. "The Ambulance" is less ambitious, comical and outrageous than some of Cohen's more famous achievements (like "God Told me To", "It's Alive" or "Q the Winged Serpent") but it definitely is a well-elaborated and entertaining B-movie. Once again, Cohen succeeds in turning a familiar and every-day topic into an exciting and rather suspenseful thriller. Inconspicuously and well organized, a group of fake nurses and doctors drive around New York in an old-type of ambulance, picking up diabetics that suffer from a 'sudden attack'. After they're brought into the cool conveyance, they disappear and no one ever hears from them again. The womanizing comic-book artist Josh Baker coincidentally stumbles upon this suspicious organization when a broad he's been stalking for a long time is taken away in front of him. His search for the girl results in a tense and involving movie, filled with ingenious plot-twists and adorably eccentric New York-characters. The screenplay is very clever, the dialogues are well written and there isn't a dull moment in the entire movie. 'The Ambulance' isn't a horror film so the deaths aren't as sadistic as in other Cohen films and there's also the lack of pungent social criticism. Still, this is a truly cool movie that deserves a wider audience. Judging by his performance here, I'd say it's unjust that Eric Roberts' career went to waste so badly. He looks a little goofy but his lines are exhilarating and his bad-boy charisma definitely works for the character he plays. Even more amusing are the supporting roles like, for example, James Earl Jones as the weird and over-stressed copper and Red Buttons as the persistent journalist. Check it out!
Josh Baker meets a very special woman, Cheryl, in the streets of New York. Suddenly she collapses, and she's picked up by an ambulance. When Josh wants to visit her in the hospital, it appears that she hasn't been admitted in the hospital. Josh follows the roommate of Cheryl, and she disappears after a ride in the same ambulance. It's up to Josh to solve the secret behind this strange vehicle. 041b061a72