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Scarecrow on Seattle: SERIAL BOMBER





For the past few years, Scarecrow Video has contributed reviews of movies made in the Pacific Northwest to the Seattle Office of Film + Music's e-newsletter (you may have seen some of them when we had our Scarecrow on Seattle rental section up last year). We're now proud to be able to share these reviews on our site as well.


Serial Bomber (1996)

In the tradition of “mad bomber” movies like Speed, Blown Away and uh…The Mad Bomber comes this so-so crime thriller about a guy who likes to blow stuff up. Jason London (Dazed and Confused) stars as Chris Murdoch, the titular serial bomber. Lori Petty co-stars as Sara Daniels, an FBI agent with a cute bulldog and a muscle car. Her boss (James Le Gros) has assembled a crack team of anti-mad bomber agents that are trying to capture the elusive criminal who has been blowing up Japanese businessmen and professors with things like booby-trapped VCRs. Murdoch is in love with a Japanese woman who is going to college in Seattle and the agents try to use her to stop all the violence. The girlfriend ends up getting mistakenly shot by a sniper Tony Doupe (Safety Not Guaranteed) which causes Murdoch to want to blow even more stuff up and mess with Sara Daniels in particular. Writer/director and frequent Steven Segal collaborator Keoni Waxman sends his characters through a series of typical action clichés where nothing makes much sense or is particularly exciting. Waxman did make one very wise choice--he shot Serial Bomber (or Countdown as it was originally titled) in Seattle.

Throughout the film there are several shots of our city's skyline, often incorporating helicopters flying around. Serial Bomber takes place near Christmas and the Space Needle is shown several times with its special lighted Christmas Tree hat, and First Avenue’s stretch through Pioneer Square is decked out in full holiday regalia. They also use the New Year's Eve Space Needle fireworks show, which is always a treat to see, even in a dumb action movie. Much of the film unfolds in warehouses so it’s hard to tell exactly where these scenes are located, but I’m guessing this footage was shot in the South Lake Union neighborhood before it was overhauled. The end credits indicate that some of Serial Bomber was made in Tacoma so, perhaps, some of the warehouse footage was filmed down south. Other recognizable locales include Gas Works Park, where Murdoch confronts a female Japanese detective, and Blessed Sacrament Church (located on Eighth Ave NE and NE Fiftieth Street). An FBI action montage incorporates a nifty backlit map of Seattle’s familiar layout.

The climax takes place at the Moore Theatre during a special Christmas concert. Murdoch, who attends the performance with Agent Daniels’ mom, has placed bombs all over the Moore with plans to blow it up real good. Will the serial bomber explode the concert and ruin Christmas? You’ll have to visit Scarecrow’s Bang! section and find out for yourself. The best part of the movie is when Daniels parks her muscle car in front of the late, lamented Pizza Pete’s the Calzone King, which was located just north of Scarecrow, and during this scene you can glimpse Dante’s bar and Giggles in the background. Dammit, Lori Petty, since you were right in the neighborhood you should have stopped by and autographed Scarecrow’s Tank Girl box! —Spenser Hoyt


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