Copper Heart

(1987)

Directed by:
Harold Wells

Writing credits:
Harold Wells
John Milius(uncredited)



Genre:Action/Crime/Drama/Sci-fi

Tagline: One good cop. Five billion ways to die.

Plot Outline:Eddie Reynolds is a New York cop with a bad heart and a score to settle. When a boxcar filled with seized radioactive… (more)

User Comments:Uneven and sometimes confusing, Copper Heart provides enough cheap thrills to win over even the stodgiest, most miserable piece of… (more)

User Rating: A STAR!?A STAR!?A STAR!?A STAR!?A STAR!?NO STAR!!!!NO STAR!!!!NO STAR!!!!NO STAR!!!!NO STAR!!!! 5.2/10 (644 votes)

Cast overview, first billed only:

Michael Nouri

Eddie Reynolds

Powers Boothe

Max Branson

David Patrick Kelly

Dan Kitten

Michael Ironside

Dick Rutherford

Diana Venora

Jean Prowozikylantioni

Rip Torn

Lemuel Hugo

Joe Grifasi

The Savage

(more)

AMDB Trivia:

  • NewcomerHarold Wellswas brought on to direct afterDavid Lynchbowed out due to his commitment to direct “Maniac Bellhop 4,” a project which was never completed.
  • John Miliustook his name off the screenplay after directorHarold Wells“butchered” it by adding several bizarre sci-fi subplots.
  • The role of Eddie Reynolds was turned down byTom Cruise,Harrison Ford,Eddie Murphy,Brian Blessed, andSteven Seagal. Australian actorBryan Brownsigned on for the part, but had to pull out after being severely electrocuted by an extinct species of crab on the set ofF/X(1986).
  • Gay rights group GLAAD nearly boycotted the film due to an ad-lib by co-starPowers Boothe. When actorMichael Ironsidelost a pair of sunglasses on the set, Boothe exclaimed, “they’re in your fanny-pack, right between your rape whistle and your Virginia Slims, faggot.” The cameras were rolling, andHarold Wellsliked the line so much he wrote it into the script.
  • Director Trademark: Close-up of scrotum.
  • David Patrick Kelly, who insisted on doing his own stunts, fractured his skull while filming the cactus dance sequence. Kelly, who held an MA in Biology from UCLA, had his degree revoked after the accident left him with a minor speech impediment.
  • The originalJohn Miliusscreenplay had the working title of “Last Cop.” AfterHarold Wellstook control of the project, proposed titles included “Trained to Die,” “NYPD: Bloodshed,” “Bloody Nightstick,” “Bellow of the Andrioid,” “Alien Holocaust” and “The Last Human.” Test screenings of the film were billed as “Destinyhammer,” but the title was changed yet again after test audiences reacted negatively to the sword-and-sandal barbarian subplot.
  • Harold Wellsinsisted that actorJames Remardrink real human urine during the transformation scene. After almost two hundred takes, Remar left the production, accusing Wells of being “a pervert.” Remar was replaced with an abstract funnel-shaped puppet designed by French philosopher Jacques Derrida, himself a urine enthusiast.
  • Director Trademark: Characters are chewing during every scene.
  • The bank robbery scene was filmed inside an abandoned gymnasium filled with mattresses, which annoyed the actors involved and bewildered test audiences.Ridley Scottwas hired to reshoot the scene after principal production was completed, but he refused to shoot in another location on the grounds that it might compromiseHarold Wells’ artistic vision.
  • Harold Wellshad constant disputes with lead actorMichael Nouriover how to portray the character of Eddie Reynolds; Nouri wanted to play him as a hard-boiled, streetwise detective, but Wells envisioned the character as a bilious, surgically reformed dwarf.
  • Production ground to a halt for three months afterMichael Ironsidecontracted hepatitis-B from eating an old man’s tooth.
  • More cars were destroyed during the production of Copper Heart than any other film before it; the record was broken in 2005 byTerrence Malick’sThe New World(2005).
  • Midway through the production,Harold Wellsbriefly toyed with the idea of reshaping the film into a teenage sex romp called “Hardbody Carwash Weekend.” The idea was scrapped after studio executives burnt down the Malibu sets.
  • Harold Wellswas furious when the studio chopped the film’s running length to only 58 minutes, making it ineligible for an Academy Award for best picture. The original cut ran 2 hours 19 minutes.
  • Cameo:Ringo Starras the voice of the Perroquet de Viande. (uncredited)
  • To prepare for the role of Dan Kitten,David Patrick Kellywent eight months without sleep.
  • Harold Wellsoriginally demanded a budget of $136 million, a figure which studio executives dismissed as “Caligulan.” The film was greenlit at an unassuming but supple budget.
  • Director Trademark: Close-up of yelling mouth filled with food.
  • Rip Tornwas nearly killed when his boat capsized during the filming of the soup dream sequence. Shaken, the actor briefly turned to Christ; a body double was used during his nude scenes.
  • ActressDiane Venora, the only woman involved in any capacity with the production, spent most of the shoot in a self-induced drug coma at the approval ofHarold Wells. Conveniently, there were only two scenes in the movie that called for her to be awake: the scene in which she is decapitated and the scene in which she leaps into river of lava.
  • Harold Wellswanted to film the landing sequence atop the Tecohulcochen Ruins in Peru, but due to budgetary constraints it was filmed on a wet baseball diamond covered in marbles.
  • A thirty-foot tremiere lond was constructed for the train crash sequence, but it collapsed under its own weight. It was the biggesst such lond ever fabricated, and the biggest overall lond ever engineered for a motion picture.
  • Powers Boothedeveloped a rash (which did not affect the production).
  • Michael Nouriunsuccessfully sued the studio after an accident while shooting an action sequence atop a windmill resulted in the half-developed fetal Siamese twin on his back being sheared off by a wooden rotor. Although he was medically unaffected, Nouri insisted that half of his soul lived inside the tumid hump.
  • Director Cameo:Harold Wellsappears as a singing walrus (uncredited).
  • Director Trademark: Character spitting chewed food into a baby’s mouth.
  • The chrome earwig model had over three hundred points of articulation. Crew members affectionately referred to the creature as “Tits.”
  • After filming for several weeks in Canada, the Canadian government was so enamored ofHarold Wellsand his unique artistic vision that they declared April 14th “Harold WellsDay.”Harold WellsDay was taken off the national roster of holidays in 1994 when Wells was publicly revealed as a bigamist.
  • A speech therapist was brought to the set afterPowers Boothewas found to be unable to correctly pronounce the world “toilet” (he kept saying “turlet”).
  • After Copper Heart’s underwhelming critical and commercial performance,Harold Wellsfound it difficult to find work as a mainstream director; however, he found his calling directing straight-to-video erotic thrillers such asBoob Alley(1989),To Catch a Boob(1991) andNightboob(1994).

– Dr. David Thorpe (@Arr)

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