That's not exactly a title that inspires a lot of terror or even discomfort (unless it's the closing of a postcard from your least favorite stalker). Further, this one is most assuredly not a horror movie, but more of a courtroom thriller! A courtroom thriller from Canada. Yep, I Miss You, Hugs and Kisses (also known as Drop Dead Dearest and Left For Dead) is one of only two films from Canada that made the Video Nasty list. It's even packed with references to "The Canadian Dream", which, I'm guessing, is a lot like the American dream, but isn't quite as full of itself.
That's not to say it's not "Nasty". Make no mistake about it, although many have questioned how and why this flick ended up Banned in the UK, I Miss You, Hugs and Kisses is most assuredly... nasty. Or, at least, it qualifies for what the BBFC declared to be "Obscene", questionable as that definition might have been. From the depiction of dead animals (this time in a poultry packing factory) to the implicit combination of sex and death, this one has its fair share of no-nos attached to it.
We start as a beautiful model (Elke Sommer's Magdalene Kruschen) has her head bashed in and is left for dead in her garage. Soon after her husband, Claus von Bülow... I'm just kidding, her husband, Charles Kruschen (Donald Pilon), discovers her body, a media frenzy starts and he goes from grieving widow to suspect to defendant. How's that for a "Reversal of Fortune"? Okay, I'll stop.
The rest of the film takes place in flashback, mostly heard from the witness stand. These start with Charles' escape from Communist Hungary (after dreams of living in Canada) with his friend Gershen Isen (Chuck Shamata) and their subsequent rise to the flashy heights of big Canadian business. Isen falls for his model Magdelene, Charles woos and marries her. Charles proves that, in spite of the fact that he looks like a poor man's "Edward James ALMOST" and isn't exactly the most athletic man on the planet, somehow he has become the luckiest man in Canada. This is demonstrated when he begins an affair with an even hotter (naked) woman called Pauline Corte (the interestingly named Cindy Girling). Look, I admit that she's really hot, but he's married to the most super of Canadian Supermodels. Way to be unappreciative, bro.
Not to be outdone, a naked Magdelene starts an affair with Isen, who is even less attractive than Charles. Go figure. When all these things come to a head, Magdelene plots to have Charles killed and Charles has all kinds of conversations with Isen about how he might off Magdelene.
This results in a long, long string of "What If-" scenarios in which Magdelene is murdered in various ways, some more graphic than others. Just which one is the real one is pretty much impossible to determine, seeing as how the more we learn, the more we realize that there were all kinds of people with motive (or at least, interest) in killing one or the other of them. Somehow, even though it was Magdelene that died (in the beginning, no less), the list of possible suspects isn't even cut in half. Hell, we soon learn there's even a Serial Killer on the loose and the whole thing could have been just a coincidence.
Sound exciting? Well, it's really not. Director Murray Markowitz (who also wrote the screenplay and produced the film with his brother Charlie) clearly has a good idea where he's going with this, but can't break past his budgetary constraints to make a truly quality motion picture. Much of the acting is decent enough, but an equal amount falls short of the mark and comes off as unrehearsed in a place or three. The claim declared in the opening crawl and repeated in the closing credits doesn't help much either. Apparently this film was based on a true story, but every element was altered to the point that any similarity with actual events is purely coincidental... so... why'd you bring it up, then?
Still, the film isn't a total loss. I Miss You, Hugs and Kisses does boast Howard Shore's first feature score and enough fairly decent plot points to warrant Two Stars out of Five. Great nudity (if not enough) and fake looking blood for our gratuity doesn't make this a great film. There was some skill brought to the screen, but in general it looks more amateurish than anything else in its look and sound. Unless you're some major Howard Shore completist, you need not apply to this one. As for me, I'm a Video Nasty completist. For those others of you out there... good luck on finding I Miss You, Hugs and Kisses. I got lucky and found an old rental copy on VHS (as Left for Dead) after running almost completely out of hope. Most people selling this thing aren't even sure what they've got on their hands. For you collectors, this can work both for and against you. After lots of searching I boggarted my copy for cheap, because the seller wasn't aware of its Nasty Status (if he even knew what "Video Nasty" meant). Others who are selling similarly named movies might think they've got it to offer you, but don't. Be wary of Auctioneers bearing Video Nasties!
See you in the next reel, and until then... I Miss You, Hugs and Kisses!
If you miss me and want to hug and kiss me...
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Unlike SOME people, I still love my WIFE!