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Kidnapping of the President / Deathrow Gameshow - (Double Feature)
Kidnapping of the President / Deathrow Gameshow
Double Feature
Actors: William Shatner, Hal Holbrook, Ava Gardner, Van Johnson, John McCafferty
Director: Mark Pirro
Genres: Action & Adventure
R     2008     3hr 17min

The Kidnapping of the President — An insane South American quasi-revolutionary terrorist and his admiring girl compatriot abduct the U.S. President (Hal Holbrook) during a trip to Toronto. While the Commander In Chief is he...  more »

     
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Movie Details

Actors: William Shatner, Hal Holbrook, Ava Gardner, Van Johnson, John McCafferty
Director: Mark Pirro
Genres: Action & Adventure
Sub-Genres: Action & Adventure
Studio: Navarre Corporation
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen
DVD Release Date: 09/09/2008
Release Year: 2008
Run Time: 3hr 17min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 0
MPAA Rating: R (Restricted)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Kidnapping of the President Decent Movie
Robert E. Rodden II | Peoria, IL. United States | 08/23/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)

"I saw Kidnapping of the President years ago on television, and I was very impressed by a fast paced, well thought out thriller; in fact, the memory of the movie has stuck with me for over thirty years. Now granted, I was about 15, so maybe I'm not remember it correctly. On the other hand, I remember thinking at the time that William Shatners Secret Service character was one of the few roles Shatner had outside of Star Trek that was very impressive. And Hal Holbrook as the President of the United States was very believable. The story seemed at the time to be engrossing, with a very impressive cat-and-mouse game between Shatner and the terrorist. I even remember reading reviews of the film at the time praising Holbrook, Shatner, and the realistic story-line.

I haven't seen the second feature (honestly, from the description, it sounds like theh Crypt Keeper should doing an opening dialogue), but for the low price, I'll take a chance, if for nothing else, to get a hold of The Kidnapping of the President."
The Most Dangerous Games
Robert I. Hedges | 03/27/2010
(2 out of 5 stars)

"This is a very odd combination of movies to put on a single DVD. "The Kidnapping of the President" is a Canadian political thriller with lots of big name stars, while "Deathrow Gameshow" is a comedy about financially exploiting the death penalty. They don't really go together, but then again they don't really stand on their own either.

"The Kidnapping of the President" is a cheesy film from 1980 with lots of big names in their joint creative declines. This Canadian cheapie is set in Toronto and boils down to this: Holbrook has been warned by Secret Service agent Shatner (as Jerry O'Connor) of a threat on his life there, and he recommends not going, while the bone-headed and arrogant head of the CIA wants to be in charge of the security detail, and at first appears to prevail, as Holbrook goes to Toronto. There is lots of over-the-top dialogue in the film, the worst case being when Shatner is told "Toronto's going to be a piece of cake," and he ominously replies "They said the same thing about Dallas." Boo!

Once in Canada, they immediately run afoul of murderous South American Marxist guerrillas led by Roberto Assanti (Miguel Fernandes), who have an elaborate and idiotic plan to kidnap the President for political pursuits and personal profits. Apparently sensing his Canadian roots, Shatner in his best T. J. Hooker impression hammily plows through the situation in which the terrorist puts Holbrook in an armored car with explosives inside, and it's now a game of beat the clock. I can't rightly say how many tenets of law enforcement are violated by willingly giving over the President to a known murderer and terrorist, but you will have no difficulty in spotting many of them yourself.

Assanti turns himself in while the ineffective bribe-taking Vice President (Van Johnson) debates about whether or not to meet the demands of the terrorists (they want $100 million in diamonds and two airplanes with a midnight deadline; via radio Holbrook defiantly says no.) In his most trying hour, Holbrook resists more than anyone thought he could amidst the pathos. The wife of the VP (Ava Gardner in one of her least palatable roles) is a horrible manipulative shrew who sees this as an opportunity for her husband to ascend politically, and advises him accordingly. There's a lot of subplots going on here to suit the multi-star cast, including a particularly rancid story about the First Lady's false sprained ankle.

Ultimately Shatner gets one of the Marxist terrorists to flip on Assanti as he killed her sister, and with the information he develops he comes up with a plan to get the President out of the truck by going through the engine and firewall with a cutting torch. This part is so stupid, you'll just have to watch it yourself to believe it. The brave Holbrook is rescued in the nick of time in a very lame scene, and good triumphs over evil once again.

This bloated piece of political swill combined the time-honored elements of many fading stars with subplots for each, and a time-sensitive hostage crisis (we've certainly, and normally unfortunately, seen these features many times since), with the product being an overwrought action film with an especially hammy performance by Shatner.

Thanks Canada!

Moving from political theater we find that Mark Pirro has struck again in his epic comedy "Deathrow Gameshow." The man who brought the world "A Polish Vampire in Burbank" has now turned his talents to the world of smarmy game show hosts. I had long considered "A Polish Vampire in Burbank" to be among the worst movies I had ever seen, but Pirro has managed to outdo himself with "Deathrow Gameshow." I will give him credit where credit is due: the concept of a dark comedy about a dysfunctional game show host who hosts a game called "Live or Die" in which convicted prisoners compete to get either pardons or alternately meet ridiculous deaths could work, but the script, acting, and execution (pardon the pun) are so bad as to make the final product nearly unbearable.

Also returning from "A Polish Vampire in Burbank" is the host and star of the show, John McCafferty as Chuck Toedan. I guess you stick with what you know. The backstory has Chuck in conflict with protestors who hate his show on ethical grounds, led by his archenemy, feminist Gloria Sternvirgin (Robyn Blythe), whose talk show appearance was actually the highlight of the movie. If you thought this was a great time for some clarity, you're right: in a flashback involving a mob boss (and from the "Worst Euphemism Ever" department, his "little turtle"), a terrible exotic dancer, and plots to kill Toedan. There's a whole lot of nothing going on here, and the movie shows us every nuance no matter how distasteful on comedic grounds.

Before it's over there is an uneasy love triangle between (you guessed it) Chuck, Gloria, and Luigi Pappalardo (credited simply as "Beano"), a mobster with a wholly unnecessary mastication scene. Oh the hilarity! (Oh the humanity!) I bet you can guess who winds up with whom, but not before an excruciating and long setup for Chuck to accidentally kill Luigi's mother on his show, leading ultimately to a struggle for life and death with Gloria and Chuck battling the forces of the underworld. Please especially enjoy the gratuitous scene of a mobster being asphyxiated while playing with blocks. I nominate this film as a strong contender in the "Worst Conclusion in Film History" category for the old hijacked game show ploy.

This film has numerous flaws. It strives to be the kind of parody that Leslie Nielsen made so popular in the 1980's, but the budget, script, and acting prevented it from achieving its goals. I like parody, and I like satire, but I don't like this. Strangely, I think Pirro does have talent, and with a bigger budget and more polished screenwriting and production teams (and better actors, of course), he could likely produce a good comedy product, but this is one show that is not ready for prime time."
Mama Mia!
Karen Shaub | the inner reaches of the outer limits | 07/19/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)

"I didn't even bother to watch the Shatner movie, I got this solely for the purpose of seeing low budget guru Mark Pirro's flick DEATHROW GAMESHOW. While it's a much more polished effort (believe it or not) than his previous efforts, it's not nearly as much fun as either A POLISH VAMPIRE IN BURBANK or CURSE OF THE QUEERWOLF. Those little 8mm flix (transferred to 16mm) were great in their own, exuberant, undeniably childish way. GAMESHOW, while a great premise, suffers from its own ill advised version of maturity. It needed a heavier dose of adolescent goofiness to really make it work.

The story? Chuck Toedan (John McCafferty)hosts the titular show on KSIK tv and it's just what its sounds like; criminals sitting on deathrow sign waivers and compete for prizes, the possibility of parole, or just a memorable televised death--with the latter being the most likely. The show is very Springer-like in that it is both hated and loved passionately. Our heroine Gloria Sternvirgin (Robyn Blythe) hates it. And while expressing her disgust with Chuck and his show in person one day she accidentally becomes involved when hitmen try to take Chuck out--and I don't mean for pizza. It seems that in addition to the millions of other people who loathe him, Chuck made some very dangerous enemies when he unknowingly submitted Mafia Boss Don Spumoni (Mark Lasky) to an especially embarrasing death on his show. And they want revenge. Chuck's an old hand at dealing with this sort of stuff however and he tosses Gloria in his car and they escape with little effort. Now really ticked off, the Mafia calls in their most effective hitman, Luigi Pappalardo (Beano, no kidding, Beano) who is such an horrific slob that he'll offend every Italian in the audience. And Luigi brings his Mama with him. Mama (also Mark Lasky) wants to see the game show Let's Make a Big Deal that tapes next door to Chuck's show. Various degrees of hilarity ensue.

As I said earlier Pirro is working with a MUCH larger budget here and it shows. There could be as many as 5 digits in the budget, maybe even one more. There are some funny gags to be found here as well, such as the prisoner who is going to be guillotined if he can't identify an old black and white horror movie in which a sexy blonde is attacked by a mummy but escapes. The mummy then lurches into the camera swearing his head off. The title of the movie? THE CURSES OF THE MUMMY, what else. If you give this flick a try stay through the credits because there's some cute stuff. Its not that bad an effort. And you've got to give writer/director Pirro props for anticipating reality tv in 1987."