Ahh, David Heavener. The 90s direct-to-video Renaissance man. He’s a subject of much discussion around my household. Although he produces, directs, acts, writes, sings, and composes, and although we own several of his films, I maintain that his chief export is being kind of hot, but my husband says his talent is somehow convincing people to give him money to make his films. We both agree his greatest acting chop is looking sad in a Will Smith’s son’s eyebrow game sort of way. You might think Heavener has a sense of humor about himself and the internet’s opinion of his schlocky output because he used to have a website called I Hate David Heavener, but then he also runs an acting school. You decide. The movies are ridiculous but I’m the idiot who keeps buying and watching them. What can I say? He’s kind of hot, he’s action-y, and he plays the guitar.
Anyway, here is an early effort from him: a kickboxing musical drama called Ragin’ Cajun. You can tell right off that it’s a labor of L-U-V because the opening scene has Heavener almost beating Benny Urquidez in a mafia sanctioned kickboxing match. If it hadn’t been for one of those damned Vietnam flashbacks striking Heavener, or Cage as his character is called, he totally would have kicked Benny the Jet’s ass.
Cut to some time later, and none other than Samantha Eggar is a shrink throwing Cage out of a mental institution saying he is cured of his flashbacks. You know, I have to say as a long aside here that I have seen Samantha Eggar in only three films, and somehow in every one she is in a mental institution. In the first one, The Brood, she is in a clinic that is basically a shed, being treated by crazy ass Oliver Reed, Lord have mercy. In the second one, Curtains, she is back on the macadamia ranch when John Vernon tricks her into staying there to prepare, method style, for a part in a movie he is directing, and then never checks her out. We think she is killed at the end of Curtains, but what if she survived, immigrated to the U.S. from Canada because of our clearly more profitable health system, and is now posing as a psychiatrist in David Heavener films? Think about it, and don’t look in the basement if you know what I mean.
In another plot, Cage has a friend with agoraphobia named Legs, and he is played by one of the acting Bottoms brothers. Our house is divided as to whether this guy and Eggar are above this material. I say he is, at least. So here’s damaged Cage, seeing helicopters on the beach in California and in an illegal boxing ring in New York, not to mention every time someone breaks a glass at the nightclub where he washes dishes but he’s personally going to talk this dude out of having panic attacks every time he leaves his hospital room. Spoiler alert: you can cure agoraphobia by buying someone some duded up Western wear, that’s all I’m gonna say.
And in a third plot, that chick who played Lucy Ewing on Dallas is in love with Cage because she thinks she can fix him. (My dad used to get mad and ruin literally minutes of my viewing enjoyment during Dallas in the early 80s with his commentary because he thought it was so dumb that Lucy was a high fashion model despite her being four feet tall.) It’s okay though, because here her name is something else and she’s a singer not a model and she and Cage are best friends and he’s going to trip on her and fall in love, as heard in the garden path sentence that makes up the title of one of the many Heavener-penned songs in this film. Did I mention she also works at the club, booking acts such as that guy who sang “At This Moment” on Family Ties, and Dolly Parton’s sister? And she sings too. That’s right, this is a musical, and there’s a concert at the end.
But first, the main plot of the film. The mafia wants Cage back in the ring for a fight to the death. In what must have been the deciding factor in the real-life passage of the 1996 Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, two goons go to the mental hospital and just ask the desk nurse if Cage has been there. And she helpfully says, “oh him? he was here but he got out, and stop by later cause he’ll be back today for therapy!” Thank God they find him due to this violation of privacy and threaten him and kidnap his girl in order to force him to fight, otherwise we’d have no control over our medical information today.
What is the deal with B-grade action movies and guys forcing other guys to fight, anyway? Aren’t there enough willing participants in fights at any dive bar on a Tuesday without having to resort to extortion to find someone who wants to kick another guy in the face? It always seems kind of rapey to me that they’d rather fight someone who won’t consent. (See also, the dialogue in Road House right before Marshall McTeague gets his throat ripped out.)
Anyway, Cage is the Best Fighter the Mob Boss Has Ever Seen, even though he wants Cage dead. I’m not sure it’s actually Heavener doing the fighting, because they have tricks for that in Hollywood, like shooting people from behind or from a distance. I suspect Lorenzo Lamas was his stunt double, the two guys being the same age and basically interchangeable. And of course, despite the constant harassment, constant that is when the script doesn’t veer off in another direction, no one ever thinks to call the police on the thugs or even tell anyone what is happening except for informing the guy with agoraphobia, like he can help them from the safety of his room. Worst of all, Lucy or whatever her character is called here is almost late for the big concert at the end, and she is NEVER late to work. The film tells us this several times.
In summary, yeah, this is a really bad movie, but I’ve watched it many times regardless and I even wrote to Mike Nelson on Facebook last night to beg him to do a riff of it.
He didn’t answer me of course, because who the hell am I, but you heard it here first. I was a fan of Ghosthouse, Future Force, and Death Promise before they were riffed, so I have a way of picking what might make a good episode of Rifftrax. Or, I just watch too many shitty movies.
The copy of Ragin’ Cajun I have is from AIP (that’s Action International Pictures from David Winters and David A. Prior, not that other AIP company) and I’m super glad to have it because AIP is one of the companies from whom I try to collect every tape I can. If you like 90s B action movies, you can’t go wrong with any tape on that label. Later it was re-released by Troma to DVD, so if I’m just too persuasive for you then you can probably pick it up on Amazon for a song. A sophomoric country song (and don’t you dare say there is no other kind). Or, watch it on Troma’s YouTube channel! They’re really good about making their stuff available.