The Census Taker (1984) Poster

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was garrett morris vehicle, now residents music gem
SatyrIX17 December 2002
I remember the original appearance of this film - it had all the corporate venality of the SNL product we've come to accept as so much saturation in movies over the last two decades, and was DOA in theatres when released.

Today however, the movie has a bizarre level of subliminal black humor that manages to play pretty entertainingly; it also has incidental music by the Residents throughout (mostly stuff from the Commercial Album), which works surprisingly well.

Overall, the movie is similar in feel to Eating Raoul, or the late 70s tv show Mary Hartman, in terms of questionable funniness but sustained 'edginess'. Speaking of MH, MH, the husband reprises his role here, more or less; his Martin Mull-ish cop buddy, IMO, was the comic highlight of the film.
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Be careful what you ask?
donlhumphries28 November 2000
Came across this movie just recently, and found it quite a good suspense thriller. The tension builds gradually, as the census taker asks all kinds of impertinent questions, thus invoking the wrath of the married couple. Complications ensue, and the body count mounts. A grim comedy, with several twists.
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A Total Steam Pile
rreger5 August 2003
By far the worst movie I have ever seen. (And I've seen "Flesh Eating Mothers.") When I'm laying on my death bed, one single tear will roll down my cheek as I remember the 1 1/2 hours I wasted subjecting myself to this movie.
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Interesting black comedy with an odd concept
abbazabakyleman-9883427 July 2019
This obscure 1984 comedy works thanks to Garrett Morris' performance as intrusive census taker Harvey McGraw, who disrupts a quiet dinner for a suburban couple. the Dades (real-life couple Greg Mullavey and Meredith MacRae) and their smart-mouth teenage kids Robert and George III. When their sons go out for the evening, the questionnaire McGraw conducts turns personal and the enraged couple shoot him dead. They must hide the body from their arriving company, Pete (a local detective) and his wife Eva.

Though there's not really any laugh-out-loud moments to be had, there's several unique plot twists throughout the movie. No clue if this film was ever released theatrically, though it was issued on VHS under the more appropriate title Husbands, Wives, Money & Murder.
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Attempt At Avildsen/Waters Style Dark Satire Comes Off Like Bad Dinner Theater
JasonDanielBaker27 January 2015
The small but affluent suburb of Appleton is burdened with the nuisance of a special census survey. Harvey McGraw (Garrett Morris), a profoundly irritating statistician who likes to abuse his power is sent there to ask a long, tedious series of invasive questions.

McGraw makes the faux pas of visiting the Dade household interrupting dinner and inviting himself in. The Dades are locally known for being disagreeable and obsessive about their privacy. Head of the household George Dade (Greg Mullavey) - an argumentative crank & right-wing libertarian is instantly perturbed by McGraw.

When McGraw doesn't let George's wife Martha Dade (Meredith McRae) get away with giving her age as 29 things deteriorate further. The Dades alligator shirt-wearing Hitler Youth/android sons Edward and Robert then question the constitutional validity of the survey and are blatantly recalcitrant.

As the questions become more personal McGraw realizes first, that he wore out his welcome on the doorstep and second, that he might not leave the Dade residence alive. The subject of how many firearms are in the house prompts the method of extermination - a shooting which is neither completely on purpose nor entirely accidental.

The constant bickering in the family impedes their attempts at covering up what they are sure will look like murder. They have company visiting i.e. Martha's lover/George's best friend Pete Taggert (Sam Bottoms) who happens to be a cop and his wife Eva (Austen Taylor) who happens to be Mrs.Dade's sister and George's lover.

An awkward evening ensues as the Dades attempt to hide their affairs from each other and a corpse from those whom they are having affairs with.

They entire rhythm of the performances are like that of a stage play, That approach doesn't work on film. The timing of what absurdist humor there is to be found gets thrown off by that undermining all of it. The result is that comes off like bad dinner theater performed on the sales room floor of a rattan furniture store.

Jennifer Precious Finch - beloved former bassist of grunge era band L7 appears briefly as a punk rocker girlfriend of one of the Dade brothers.
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A Neglected Gem
BillRossVLogic23 July 2011
Yes, this is a low-budget comedy with cheap sets, but it is a direct spoof of "Who's Afraid Of Virginia Wolfe?" Even the characters see the parallel, as their names are George and Martha. Martha's first words are, "What a dump!", a direct quote. You have a dysfunctional couple who have to host a younger couple. Secrets are revealed. If only they had eliminated that annoying census taker this would have been even better. The couples' interaction could carry the movie. The best aspect is you get to see the FUNNY side of Meredith MacRae. She was usually typecast as the ingenue, occasionally getting to sing, but always serious, even in comedies. You had to see her on a game show to find out how smart and funny she was. This was the only time she showed off her sarcastic, comic delivery. I was a big fan of hers in the 70s, but never heard of this until about 8 years ago. Thank goodness for cable.
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