Nov 20, 2020 • 50M

Red Wind with Gwendolyn Kiste

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This Is Why We're Like This
Boston area comedians Julia Rios and Geoffrey Pelton discuss the movies we watched as children that shaped who we are today, for better ... or for worse
Episode details

Gwendolyn Kiste, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of The Rust Maidens and Boneset and Feathers (among other things), joins us to talk about a movie she somehow saw as a seven or eight year old: Red Wind. Gwendolyn is awesome, and we encourage you to check out her work!

Image Description: Therapist Kris Morrow goes through a gate next to an “EXOTIC SEX” sign in search of the club her patient frequents.

Gwendolyn posted about this movie on Facebook, and Julia immediately knew we had to cover it. Here’s what Gwendolyn posted:

Okay, everybody: there's a movie I've been trying to remember the title of for years, so let's see if someone can help me with it.

(Full disclosure: I saw this film for the first and only time more than twenty-five years ago when I was a kid, so some of these details may not be exact.)

So first off, this movie was fairly sleazy, like one of those low-rent thrillers they produced a lot of in the late 1980s and early 1990s. I think it was made-for-TV, but like Showtime or Cinemax or USA Up All Night made-for-TV. Again, pretty sleazy. Way too sleazy for a kid to be watching, but too late now. I swear it was called something like "Red Willows" or another title with Red in it, but that might be totally wrong.

The plot was typical thriller stuff: a plucky heroine dealing with a serial killer. I'm fairly sure it takes place in the Pacific Northwest since there's a lot of logging equipment hanging around, which comes up later. As the heroine is dealing with the murder plot, she falls in love with a guy who's helping her, and--who would have guessed it?--but that dude turns out to be the killer. When she discovers he's the killer, he tries to kill her too, but she fends him off, at which point he asks her to kill him so that he stops killing people. Rather than, you know, calling the police or something, she obliges by putting him in a contraption that looked a lot like a wood chipper. Which seems like the most difficult way possible to casually murder someone, but hey, I'm not a plucky heroine in a sleazy 80s/90s thriller, so what do I know?

Now here's the part I remember most clearly: as she puts him through the wood chipper, he says "I love you," only the words are all warbly and distorted because he's obviously being put through a wood chipper. She goes into absolute hysterics at this point, as though she's been waiting a long time to hear him say those three special words to her, and now he's done it, only it's too late because there's tons of blood running out of the wood chipper (the movie is very specific in showing her both feeding his body into the chipper and the resultant blood seeping out the other end). The reason this movie has stuck with me is specifically this scene, and not for its violence but for its inexplicable take on relationships. It led me to the unshakeable conclusion that adult relationships must be both terrifying and confusing, and I promptly resolved to live a life without relationships ever because that seemed better than being expected to put your serial killer-lover in a wood chipper (which again, just seemed like a lot of needless work).

Then the last scene has her musing all philosophically in voiceover as she walks through her Pacific Northwest wilderness property where she put her killer-lover in the aforementioned wood chipper, and I think there's even a dog frolicking beside her, because this movie managed to be both sleazy AND maudlin.

Now, again, some of these details are probably off. Perhaps it's not a wood chipper she uses but instead something like a stump grinder or a harvester. I don't know. I was like seven when I saw this. It looked like a wood chipper to me. And this was absolutely before the wood chipper scene in Fargo, because I distinctly remember when I saw Fargo for the first time thinking, "Oh this is like that other sleazy movie!"

I've searched for the title repeatedly over the years, and I've never been able to come up with what it is, leading me to believe that perhaps I've slipped into a Berenstain Bears reality in which this strange little sleazy movie does not exist. Which is probably kinder for everyone in this reality, to be honest.

At any rate, if I did not in fact dream up this film, I would love it if someone could tell me the title, if for no other reason really than morbid, sleazy curiosity.

Gwendolyn was pretty spot on in that summary, though there was no dog, and the movie is set in Miami, Florida. It’s also just dreadful, and full of sleazy insinuation without any on screen sex, but plenty of blood coming out of a wood chipper at the end.

It also has one of the least believable S&M club scenes we’ve ever seen. This led Geoffrey and Gwendolyn to compare it to Exit to Eden, a 90s BDSM comedy starring Rosie O’Donnell and Dan Akroyd. We didn’t discuss this in the podcast, but apparently that one was based on an Ann Rampling (Anne Rice’s erotica pen name) novel, but Hollywood decided to add in a comedy plot? How… how did Anne Rice feel about the Exit to Eden movie?

We would 100% not show this movie to a child, and we also note that this podcast episode contains discussions of murder by wood chipper, and S&M, so, you know, take that under advisement.

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