The Foot

Chloris Leachman falls victim to The Foot.

DVD Release date: November 12, 2003
Original theatric release: February 1982
Special thanks to Criterion for the advance copy of the DVD

Oliver Stone likes to give the impression that he began his directorial career in 1986 with 'Salvador' and 'Platoon'. In reality, he began over a decade earlier with the grade Z flick Seizure (1974). It took him another seven years to recover enough credibility to take the chair again with 1981's The Hand.

This film should have ended Stones career with no chance of resuscitation, but fate smiled upon him. In the starring role was Michael Caine, a hammy actor at a particularly bad time in his hammy career. In a startling performance which can only be compared to Faye Dunaway in 'Mommy Dearest', Caine shouts, Caine screams, Caine gets into a wrestling match on the garage floor with a prosthetic hand. The film was a modest success.

Desperate for a follow-up, Stone spent two drugged out weeks in Juarez writing a screenplay for his next film, 'The Foot'.

'The Foot' seemed doomed from the start. Dennis Hopper (another actor in a career lull) was cast in the lead role of Martin Murphy, a soccer player nearing the end of his playing days. While riding his motorcycle through the Arkansas back woods, he is sideswiped by two rednecks in a pickup truck, who speed away laughing as Murphy crashes into the swamp. Hopper seems unsure whether to act dazed, angry, or anguished, as he attempts to pull himself out of the swamp, only to have a gator bite his foot off.

The rest of the movie is sadly predictable. We flash forward six months to an embittered Hopper  who is in the final throes of his disintegrating marriage to Juanita (Annie McEnroe). It is clear that he has become unstable, and we see several quick cuts of a black and white Reebok interspersed with the dialogue. As might be expected, the foot begins to kill Hopper's enemies, real and imagined. Two are kicked to death while sleeping, and in one of the most ludicrous scenes ever filmed, Hopper's new love interest Angie (Chloris Leachman) is suffocated when the foot jumps into her mouth.

The climax comes, none too soon, with a drunken Hopper fighting to the finish with the foot (just a shoe in reality) in his front yard, as the neighbors look on with stunned amazement.

The film was quickly shelved, and Stone would not work again for five years.

'The Foot' (1982)
Available 11/12/03, Criterion DVD.
Suggested retail: $19.95

DVD Extras: Enhanced 5-1 soundtrack, 'The Making of The Foot' documentary, Trailer, Audio commentary by Chloris Leachman.

2003, Mark Hoback