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Film / The Ambulance

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A 1990 comedy thriller film directed by Larry Cohen, about an aspiring comic book artist named Josh (Eric Roberts) who meets a woman named Cheryl (Janine Turner), who then passes out and is taken away by ambulance. However, when Josh goes to check in on her at the hospital, he learns that there is no record of her and that her roommate has also disappeared.

Convinced of some kind of conspiracy connected to various disappearances, he tries to figure out what is going on but he falls under suspicion himself, forcing him to find out the truth.

The movie also stars James Earl Jones, Red Buttons, and Megan Gallagher.

It was released on March 22, 1990.

Tropes for the film:

  • Bury Your Disabled: Everyone who has been taken by the ambulance to be experimented on is diabetic.
  • Berserk Button: Detective John HATES being called Jughead.
  • Car Fu: In addition to being used for kidnapping, the ambulance itself is heavily armoured and has giant push bars so it can be used to kill people by ramming into them. Lt. Spencer and Officer Maloy are both hit by the ambulance; Spencer is killed and Maloy appears to be killed as well, but she survives.
  • Clear My Name: Josh finds himself also being suspected of the disappearances, making it a race against time for him to find out the truth behind the disappearances.
  • Cool Car: The ambulance itself, being a giant armoured 1973 Cadillac with armour and bulletproof windows and tires, plus a very powerful engine beneath the hood!
  • Cop Killer: The driver of the ambulance, revealed to be The Doctor himself. After Lt. Spencer is stabbed, he takes several shots at the ambulance, prompting The Doctor to turn around and run him down to finish him off. He also intentionally hits Officer Malloy with it as well, almost killing her.
  • The Cameo: Stan Lee makes his first movie appearance here.
  • Death by Ambulance: Not only does the ambulance take it victims somewhere for organ harvesting, but the ambulance's driver also runs people down who are investigating the disappearances.
  • Grumpy Old Man: A decent amount of Elias' dialogue is spent complaining about the current situation or things not working.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: The Doctor attempts to kill Josh with the ambulance but ends up driving it off a cliff he couldn't see because it was behind a wall, resulting in the ambulance crashing end over end before exploding upon reaching the bottom.
  • Immune to Bullets: The titular ambulance is armoured and has bulletproof glass and tires so gunfire can't even damage it.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: The street hoodlums who beat up Josh for intruding on their turf get the shit beat out of them by the paramedics when Josh goads them into attacking said paramedics.
    • The Doctor, who has had countless diabetics drugged and kidnapped so he could perform torturous expirements on, tries to kill Josh by ramming the plywood construction yard partition Josh climbs on to escape. What The Doctor didn't know was on the other of the partition was a 60-foot drop into a foundation pit which the ambulances crashes down end over end until crashing to the bottom and exploding into a fireball.
  • Mad Doctor: The Doctor, played by Eric Braeden. He conducts painful experiments on diabetics under the guise that he's working on a cure for diabetes. When someone insults him, he will not hesitate to inject with a toxin that attacks the central nervous system and causes intense pain.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Josh gets the crap beaten out of him by several gang members for seemingly no reason. When the ambulance arrives to take him to be disposed of, Josh attempts to get the gang members to assault the phoney paramedics to get at the drugs and needles in the ambulance. The five gang members attack but quickly get theirs asses handed to them by the two paramedics.
  • Shout-Out: Many to Marvel and Archie Comics.
    • Josh works as an illustrator at Marvel Comics and Stan Lee plays himself, though in a slightly larger role than his many cameos in Marvel adaptations.
    • Josh's illustrations of Cheryl, according to Mr. Lee, look like Veronica.
    • Officer John is often made fun of for supposedly resembling Jughead, though he doesn't even bear a slight resemblance.
    • Cheryl's name may apply as she shares her first name with a character from Archie, though this may just be a coincidence.
  • Sickly Green Glow: Whenever the ambulance is seen at night, it has a green glow coming from the inside, courtesy of lights built into the floor.
  • Spiteful Spit: Elias spits in The Doctors face after being told his evil deeds are being done for a greater good, rightfully believing none of it.
  • Stalker with a Crush: One of Harry's main motivations for getting to the bottom of the ambulance kidnappings is to rescue Cheryl so he can start a romantic relationship with her after seeing her at the same corner at the same time for months. She turns out to already have a boyfriend.
  • Trojan Ambulance: The Doctor kidnaps his victims by arriving to accident sites in his ambulance, loading up the patient, and driving off. It takes the police some time (at Josh's behest) to figure out the crime is happening.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Nurse Feinstein is one of the people kidnapped by the ambulance and it's phoney paramedics, but she's only mentioned once after as having been kidnapped and she's never seen again for the rest of the movie.
  • You Have to Believe Me!: Josh tries to convince people that there really was a woman taken by an ambulance and that there is something going on.