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Flesh Suitcase

Desperados and dirty tricks are rife in the feisty indie "Flesh Suitcase." Essentially a heist-that-goes-wrong pic, the low-budget effort has just enough comic edge and invention to attract specialized playoff. Modest returns are in the offing for the effort, which highlights some promising tyro talent.

With:
Craig ... Corey Parker Michael ... Kai Ephron Tate ... Harold Gould Taka ... Liz Burnette Emily ... Katherine LaNasa Robin ... Lesa Carlson Chad ... Chris Curson Dollar ... Kiloh Fairchild

Desperados and dirty tricks are rife in the feisty indie “Flesh Suitcase.” Essentially a heist-that-goes-wrong pic, the low-budget effort has just enough comic edge and invention to attract specialized playoff. Modest returns are in the offing for the effort, which highlights some promising tyro talent.

Story centers on two drug couriers, old pro Michael (Kai Ephron) and first-timer Craig (Corey Parker). They’ve just landed in L.A. and are laying low in a nondescript residential hotel until the bosses arrive.

Part of the film’s novelty comes from the method of transportation and delivery referred to in the title. Michael and Craig’s load of heroin is literally working its way through their system. Prior to departure, each swallowed dozens of ping-pong-ball-size, balloon-encased packets of the drug and are now waiting for nature to take its course.

The time in between takes its toll. Craig, who’s heard tales of slow leaks in the balloons, may or may not be ill from such a rupture. Michael’s more concerned because phone calls have not been returned and arrangements have altered. Something seems dangerously amiss.

Added to an intrinsically tense situation are the marginal folks who are regulars at the hotel. Down the hall is some sort of religious nut and next door are two women sending out mixed sexual signals.

First-time feature director Paul Duran, who co-scripted with Jayne Caeneddi, proves adroit in conveying the pressure-cooker environment of his tale. Script is an intricate latticework of characters and plot twists, deceits and reversals.

Story’s ambition and a generally strong cast are not equaled on a technical level. The look of the piece is extremely modest, with sparse sets too brightly lit, working against the possibility of building atmosphere. It also has a traditional downbeat finale that doesn’t quite fit its skewed perspective. “Suitcase” carries a lot of baggage, most of it quite fascinating. Its rawness primarily works to its favor, and that bodes well in a marketplace where there’s still a small space for quirky movies.

Flesh Suitcase

Production: A Valiant Films production in association with American Cinema Group. Produced by Ivan Victor, Kai Ephron. Executive producers, Meike Kopp, James Magowan. Directed by Paul Duran. Screenplay, Jayne Caeneddi, Duran, from a story by Caeneddi.

Crew: Camera (Deluxe color), Arturo Smith; editor, Victor; music, Mark Mothersbaugh; production design, Kopp; art direction, Jennifer Calbi; costume design, Eduardo Castro, Wendy McPherson-Benitez; sound, Jehuda Maayan, Aletha Rodgers, Chris Leplus, Eric Erslan; assistant director, Joel Nishimine; casting, Cynthia Kane, Yasmine Abraham. Reviewed at Slamdance Film Festival, Park City, Utah, Jan. 26, 1995. (Also in Santa Barbara fest.) Running time: 88 MIN.

With: Craig ... Corey Parker Michael ... Kai Ephron Tate ... Harold Gould Taka ... Liz Burnette Emily ... Katherine LaNasa Robin ... Lesa Carlson Chad ... Chris Curson Dollar ... Kiloh Fairchild

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