Milton Parker has made millions inventing and selling games. Upon his death, his relatives and domestic staff gather for the reading of the will. However, Old Mr. Parker is a game player to the last, and his will stipulates that a Scavenger Hunt will be held to determine the beneficiaries of his sizeable estate. The winning team gets all the money, the rest get nothing. Cinematography by Ken Lamkin (TV's Frasier: The Complete Series).
Director Michael Schultz' 'Scavenger Hunt' is similar to Stanley Kramer's 'It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World' in that it sends a collection of characters running around to lay claim to a fortune. In the latter, people are searching for $350,000 stolen during a tuna-factory robbery. In the former, they are playing a game to see who will inherit $200 million. Another difference between the films is that 'Scavenger Hunt' is boring and not funny, which doesn't bode well for a comedy.
'Scavenger Hunt' opens with a lame scene where a nurse (Carol Wayne) is heard talking off screen in double entrendes that are so ridiculous they wouldn't be believable in a porno, but the material does bring to mind the role she is most associated with: The Matinee Lady of the Tea Time Movies with Art Fern sketches from The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. It's clear from the start that the humor isn't likely to be too highbrow.
Her patient, the elderly Milton Parker (Vincent Price), is a wealthy gamemaker, who dies after playing a bizarre proto-Frogger. However once it's revealed, viewers are very likely to have a hard time believing Parker made his fortune from making games. At his will reading, it turns out he has created one last game to award his $200 million estate. No surprise, it's a scavenger hunt. The teams have until 5pm to acquire what they can and return them to a color-coded pen back at the estate. The items have different point values and the only rule appears to be that they can't purchased.
There are five teams in competition. Team #1 is Milton's sister Mildred Carruthers (Cloris Leachman), her son Georgie (Richard Masur), and her attorney Stuart Selsome (Richard Benjamin). Team #2 is Milton's nephews Jeffrey (Dirk Benedict) and Kenny Stevens (Willie Ames) and Mildred's stepdaughter Lisa (Maureen Teefy). Team #3 is Milton's late daughter's husband Henry (Tony Randall) and their four children. Team #4 is Milton's house staff: butler Jenkins (Roddy McDowell), maid Babette (Stephanie Faracy), chef Henri (James Coco), and chauffeur Jackson (Cleavon Little). Team #5 is cab driver Marvin Dummitz (Richard Mulligan), who is so dumb screenwriters Steven A. Vail and Henry Harper made the word a part of his name, so dumb he cant figure out how to open a door to his own cab. Marvin caused Milton's business partner to miss a corporate meeting that allowed him to take over the company, but it doesn't explain why Milton included him. Marvin would eventually be joined by Sam (Scatman Crothers), a security guard at a bridal shop.
Unfortunately, the gags aren't funny and even worse, the actors aren't able to lift the terrible material, which is surprising considering their resumes. For example, Selsome has a run in with a biker gang leading to predictable results. The staff has a scene that goes on way to long where they steal a toilet from a hotel and the maid acts like it's a person. Marvin dresses like a mummy to cause a diversion at a museum, but the audience has to believe adults would believe in one and be terrified upon seeing it. The film is filled with misfire after misfire, like all the jokes about fat people and many of the characters being just plain annoying, making it a tough watch.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
Kino Lorber Studio Classics presents 'Scavenger Hunt' on a 50GB Region A Blu-ray disc in a standard blue keepcase. The disc boots up directly to the menu screen without any promotional advertisements.
The video has been given a 1080p/AVC-MPEG-4 encoded transfer displayed at 1.85:1. The most notable element in the transfer is the grain, which at times is the worst I have yet to encounter. It appears like scurrying insects in dark scenes, like the opening, and on many blue objects but it gets so intense it disrupts the color of Stuart's suit during the will reading.
Otherwise, the colors come through in hues ranging from bright primaries to solid earth tones and accurate flesh tomes. Blacks are inky and have good separation. The source looked clean and free of other digital artifacts. Moments of softness detract from the image's overall sharpness and depth, but many of scenes offer good texture detail.
The audio is available in DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0. The mix is unbalanced. Some elements are hard to hear clearly when combined with the others. Billy Goldenberg's score is frequently overwhelmed by the dialogue and effects, such as when the teams first leave Milton's estate. And even when it can be heard on its own, the score's dynamic range is narrow. A hiss is present throughout the track.
I unfortunately found 'Scavenger Hunt' to be quite lacking, both the movie itself and the grain issue in its high-def presentation, causing me to be unable to even recommend Kino's release to fans.