Hemdale Film Corporation
Written and Directed by Steven De Jarnatt
Produced by John Daly/Derek Gibson
Music by Tangerine Dream
Okay. Two things before I get into the story synopsis and summery part of the review. Bear with me for a bit, okay?
First off, I do not care a poobah’s pizzle about spoilers. Really, I don’t. I’ve been watching movies and TV shows long enough that I really can predict where the plot is going and what the characters are going to do. So it takes whole lot to surprise me. That’s not to say that I advocate people spoiling movies and TV shows for others. Which bring me to MIRACLE MILE. Despite it being made almost thirty years ago, the emotional power of the movie rests on you not knowing what its about. And so, unlike other movies made during that year such as “Scrooged” or “They Live” or “Killer Klowns from Outer Space” which everybody knows and is familiar with, MIRACLE MILE absolutely depends on you seeing it with a fresh eye and not knowing what is going to happen next so that you have that “Oh, Shit.” feeling you’ll have when the end credits roll. And if you see it for the first time, trust me…you’ll say, “Oh, Shit.” when the movies ends. If you don’t, you have no soul.
Those who have seen MIRACLE MILE who are reading this are now nodding in agreement with me.
Second, MIRACLE MILE is a movie that comes to my mind when people ask me about my favorite horror movies. You can keep your “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and “Friday The 13th” If that is your thing, Odin bless you. But for me, MIRACLE MILE is the a prime example of the real deal when I talk about horror movies. Because it’s something that could actually happen and something I wonder about and ponder how I would behave if I were in that situation.
MIRACLE MILE begins with a sweet romance between Harry (Anthony Edwards) and Julie (Mare Winningham) who meet up at the La Brea Tar Pus Museum and fall in love at first sight. They spend the day together and make plans to have dinner and go dancing after Julie gets off work at an all-night diner. Due to a power outage, Harry oversleeps and misses the date. He races down to the diner and finds out she’s left for home. Harry goes outside the diner to use a pay phone to call her. The phone rings and Harry picks it up. What he hears changes everything as he thinks it’s a panicky message about how nuclear missiles have been launched and World War III is only 60 minutes away. Harry attempts to find out more is cut off by machine gun fire and a voice on the phone telling him to go back to sleep.
Harry returns to the diner and informs the other patrons of what he’s heard. Most of them are folks you would expect to find at a diner at 1AM and they don’t believe him. That’s until the chick at the end of the counter (Denise Crosby) who is dressed like a lawyer takes her satellite phone out of her purse, calls a few numbers, asks Harry a few questions and confirms that everybody important in Washington, DC from the President on down to the janitor who cleans the toilet at The Washington Monument is leaving town and heading for everywhere nuclear missles can’t reach.
Everybody immediately scrambles to try to get out of Los Angeles before the missiles hit. But here’s the thing that makes MIRACLE MILE so brilliant: we’re never really sure if what we think is happening is really happening. Are nuclear missiles really coming to turn America into a radioactive wasteland? And does that make any different when we’re so willing to turn on each other and become brutal, bloodthirsty monsters just to survive?
As far a apocalyptic movies go, MIRACLE MILE is right up there with the best of them. It goes so fast from from being a sweet romance to a horror survivalist movie it’ll make your head burst. I have never been much of an Anthony Edwards fan but damn if he doesn’t nail it with this one. Harry spends most of the running time of the movie trying to to save the life of a girl he’s only known for a few hours but he sells that shit. 90% of the movie rests on his shoulders and he carries it with no problem at all.
And as for for Mare Winningham…sigh…this is an actress who should have enjoyed a more successful carreer. No, she’s not what we could consider conventionally pretty but she’s sexy as hell. And she can act. Back then Mare Winningham could do more with a look than Demi Moore or Courtney Cox could do with three pages of dialog. She’s nothing less than remarkable in MIRACLE MILE
And if you’ve never seen her in any other movie, watch her in this one.
So should you see MIRACLE MILE? Absolutely YES. It is at once one of the sweetest romantic movies I’ve ever seen and one of the most horrifying movies I’ve ever seen and there ain’t a lot of movies I can say that about.