Still on an AbFab kick, I was keeping an eye out for the main cast’s other work, so I happily snapped up a four-flicks-on-two-discs bundle containing Bring Me the Head of Mavis Davis (1997), when I saw it on sale for a single pound sterling!* The film stars Rik Mayall as ‘Marty Starr’, a has-been “record executive” who has racked up some serious debts with a scary American gangster (Danny Aiello), and is about to lose the only profitable star left on his books, ‘Marla Dorland’ (aka ‘Mavis Davis’), played by Jane Horrocks. Desperate to make a quick buck, and disgusted to discover that the mousy ingénue he nurtured to fame has become a raging diva, Starr resolves to have her snuffed, so he can cash in her chips. Unfortunately, the only assassin he can find at short notice (Marc Warren) is totally inept, and incapable of hitting his target. As her friends and pets get caught in the crossfire, Dorland reveals a vulnerability that reminds Starr why he was so drawn to her in the first place… but can he cancel the hit in time to save her life, or will he have to watch the woman he (maybe) loves get shot down on stage, knowing that he’s the one who’s ultimately responsible for her death? Tension!
Except, not really. When you summarise the storyline, it sounds like a pretty great premise for a black-hearted rom-com along the lines of A Fish Called Wanda… but the execution leaves a lot to be desired, and this isn’t anywhere near Wanda’s league. The characters are too broad, the jokes too lame, and the potential romance/tragedy angle isn’t given the push it really deserves. I was also disappointed that Horrocks never really got to let lose in her role… I mean, to win the audience over to Starr’s side as he plots her murder, it might have helped if she’d been depicted as a raving, megalomaniacal monster… and it would certainly have been more fun to see Horrocks play her that way. Instead she just comes across as slightly arrogant, but not in an especially outlandish or amusing way. For example, there’s a scene where she meets Starr for a business lunch in a fancy restaurant, and brings her yappy lapdog along with her. The waiter suggests that she let him look after the dog for her, and she quickly agrees. The waiter then carries the dog away. Hilarious! Still, the outfits she wears throughout the film are pretty gorgeous, so that’s some consolation… in fact, this is probably the most glamorous I’ve ever seen her! The musical numbers should have been the highlight for a Horrocks fan, but the arrangements sound so dated that it was hard to enjoy them as anything other than mildly diverting interludes. To be fair there are a few funny scenes… mostly between Mayall and his assistant, played by Mark Heap (of Spaced fame), and a penitent bodyguard, played by Ricky Grover (of Getting On fame)… but overall the film was a bit of a damp squib. Shame.
* On the flipside of the disc was a controversial “comedy” called Carbon Copy (1981), which marked Denzel Washington’s debut as a film actor… but you only need to skim the plot summary to see why he has consequently disowned the flick. And yes, it really is as awful as everyone says it is!