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The Ambulance

Director: Larry Cohen Run Time: 96 min. Format: 35mm Rating: R Release Year: 1990

Starring: Eric Roberts, James Earl Jones, Red Buttons, Megan Gallagher, Janine Turner, Eric Braeden

Print courtesy of The Academy Film Archive

Setting his sights on his latest prey on the busy sidewalks of Manhattan on lunch break, comic book artist and wannabe ladies’ man Josh (a magnificently mulleted Eric Roberts) is pulled down the rabbit hole when Cheryl (Janine Turner) collapses mid-come-on and is whisked away by an ambulance. As he sets out to find her, he quickly realizes something is amiss as no hospital knows of her and other people begin to vanish. Enlisting the help of skeptical cops Lieutenant Spencer (James Earl Jones) and Officer Malloy (Megan Gallagher), Josh’s entanglement deepens as he chases the mysterious ambulance around the city.

Writer/director Larry Cohen (The Stuff, It’s Alive) injects his signature oddball sense of humor into this conspiracy thriller, matched well with Eric Roberts’ own style of doing-it-all acting. It’s a buffet of absurdity that includes an unhinged performance by Red Buttons, and Stan Lee’s first cameo (as himself, in the Marvel Comics office where Josh works).