REVENGE!!!

This edition of BRAIN HAMMER’S PICKS FROM THE CRYPT features a terrible trio of hardcore exploitation favorites. Three classic genre flicks filled with racism, violence, rape, & most importantly: REVENGE!!! I love flicks where lots of scumbags get wasted, especially when they really have it coming – and these are three of the very best!

 

LET THE BLOODSHED BEGIN!!!

 

FIGHT FOR YOUR LIFE (1977)

When a movie opens with a line like “Where you goin’ bitch? I want my smack back!” you know you’re in for a treat. A freak car accident allows a trio of convicted killers on their way to prison to escape. They kill their guards, steal a pimp’s car and head for the sticks. Along the way they commit a pair of bloody armed robberies that both end in murder. During the last holdup the gang takes a young Black female hostage and goes back to her family’s house to lay low until night falls.

Racism by the truckload quickly ensues as the redneck leader of the trio, Jesse Lee Kane (played to perfection by William Sanderson of “Blade Runner” fame), constantly insults both the Black family members and his Latin & Asian partners in crime. The family suffers constant humiliation and degradation at the hands of the sadistic bigot and his pals. Mom is forced to piss herself, wheelchair bound Grandma is threatened at gunpoint, the feisty son is referred to as “King Coon Junior”, his teenage sister is raped, and the Father of the family, a Reverend no less, (the hilariously named Ted Turner!) is savagely beaten with his own bible! The brutality is ramped up by the attempted rape and eventual murder of a white female friend of the family, and worst of all the backyard slaying of the cute little best friend and “blood brother” of the young son!

The cops finally catch up to the killers, and a tense and drawn out hostage situation seems inevitable. The cops silently surround the Turner house and wait for an opportunity to strike. But in order to stay alive, justice will have to be dealt out by the Turner family, not the police or the courts. Malfunctioning surveillance equipment and a sudden change of heart by the formerly by-the-book police officer in charge allows the family to dish out the type of brutal and exacting punishment that the bastards deserve. “There is no higher law than an eye for an eye.”

This flick really works because of how extreme it is. If it pulled any of its punches it wouldn’t be nearly as effective and entertaining. This gut-cruncher is infamous for the scene where a little boy has his head bashed in with a rock. This scene was almost always edited out of the early video releases, and was enough to have the film branded a “Video Nasty” and banned in the UK. It’s very nasty stuff that rivals the more well known “Vanilla Twist” child murder scene in John Carpenter’s “Assault On Precinct 13.” There’s also rape and several bloody murders on display. But even the ample amounts of violence featured take a backseat to the primary exploitive element – RACISM! This is perhaps the most incendiary film ever made!

I counted no less than 70 racial remarks. There were 28 different anti-Black epithets. I give a lot of credit to writer Straw Weisman for coming up with so many different horrible racist terms for the script. A lazy writer would have simply tossed the N-bomb around a few dozen times and called it a day. Not Straw. In FIGHT FOR YOUR LIFE the word “nigger” is only used 8 times. That may sound like a lot but it really isn’t for an exploitation flick, and it pales in comparison to the much more nasty and unusual insults frequently used here including “monkey face,” “deputy dawg,” “jive ass spade,” and “black ass booger.” There were seven different variations of the word “coon” alone, including the incredible “a real bend over backwards and shine your shoes master coon!” But the Blacks aren’t the only ones who suffer this kind of verbal abuse, as terms like “spic,” “slant eyes,” “white trash,” “pink pig,” and “faggot” are liberally used as well. This flick is truly an equal opportunity offender.

This clas-sick genre flick had a short but memorable theatrical run in the late Seventies that included near riots on 42nd Street and in Baltimore MD. Blacks in the audience went CRAZY watching this movie and started tearing seats out of the floor and throwing them at the screen and at each other! By the final reel where the Black family finally gets revenge on the white racist, the audience (or what was left of them) would start loudly cheering and applauding! Legendary director and pervert John Waters saw the film in Baltimore and later wrote about this wild experience, calling it “fabulous!” Blue Underground released a beautiful dvd of “Fight For Your Life” which is completely uncut and features a hilarious commentary track with writer Straw Weisman, director of photography Lloyd Freidus, and Blue Underground head honcho Bill Lustig. This is essential exploitation.

 

 

THE EXTERMINATOR (1980)

This flick opens with a bang right in the middle of a burning jungle in Vietnam. A trio of GI’s including our hero John Eastland (Robert Ginty – RIP) and his best pal Michael Jefferson are taken prisoner by the Vietcong, who proceed to tie them up and interrogate them. One of the unlucky soldiers is decapitated before Jefferson can get free and proceed to blow the shit out of everybody in a merciless slow motion bloodbath. John and Mike fight their way to a helicopter which carries them both to safety.

We then flash forward about a dozen years or so and find the two vets working together in the same NYC warehouse. John discovers a pack of street thugs stealing beer one afternoon and a violent confrontation ensues. Mike shows up and the two pals manage to run the punks off. This leads to a retaliatory beat down and flesh ripping attack that leaves Mike in a hospital bed, paralyzed for life. John uses his trusty flamethrower to get information and quickly tracks down the punks that crippled his friend. After a dramatic confrontation that includes the classic line “That nigger was my best friend, you motherfucker!” John fills the scumbags full of lead and leaves one of them still alive to have his face eaten off by rats!

Not content to stop there, John soon unleashes an onslaught of violent fury against the entire NYC underworld. No pimp, pervert, or pusher is safe. THE EXTERMINATOR is best known for his trademark flamethrower, but he also takes the time to make his own homemade mercury filled bullets, and really knows his way around an industrial meat grinder too! I always get a chuckle out of seeing a fully clothed mafioso going into the meat grinder and nothing but fresh ground hamburger coming out of it! No pesky clothing or shoe pieces to worry about!

The late great Christopher George (“Pieces,” “Enter The Ninja”) plays the hard boiled cop trying to track down the exterminator down. Chris takes up a lot of the running time slowly investigating the case and romancing his doctor-girlfriend, played by Samantha Eggar (“The Brood”). The scenes with these two are pretty much worthless. The vigilante quickly becomes a hero to the public but is considered a dangerous menace by the mayor, who fears more for his re-election attempt than he does the publics safety. As the body count rises John also becomes a target for the C.I.A., who consider him to be a threat to national security.

The legendary James Glickenhaus wrote and directed this classic exploitation flick which is chock full of nasty violence and SLEAZE including child prostitution, sex slaves, torture, mutilation, and disfigurement! The perverted sequences featuring the “chicken shack” are unreal. It makes you wonder where in the hell this stuff was filmed! There’s an especially gory decapitation during the violent opening sequence that ranks as one of the best I’ve ever seen. Not realistic by any means, but exceptionally cool looking! This flick is a little uneven in terms of pacing, but more than makes up for it with grit and grue.

Like any exploitation flick, this has to be seen in all of its full uncut glory to be appreciated. When the more extreme moments of splatter are scissored there’s not a lot left here to be enjoyed. This film was heavily edited to earn an “R” rating. Tango Entertainment recently released the digitally remastered unrated director’s cut on dvd. That’s the only version worth seeing. Fans of violent genre flicks influenced by “Death Wish” and “Taxi Driver” will eat this up.

 

CLASS OF 1984 (1982)

A masterpiece of prophetic punk rock perfection written and directed by Mark L. Lester, who also helmed the classic “Commando.” An idealistic pacifist music teacher named Andy Norris (played by the bearded and sensitive looking Perry King) is transferred to Lincoln High, an ultra violent and dangerous inner city high school. After settling into the neighborhood with his pregnant wife he immediately runs afoul of the local teenage gestapo, led by the brilliant yet twisted student Peter Stegman. (played by Timothy Van Patten of “White Shadow” & “Master Ninja” infamy)

Stegman is a ruthless kingpin of crime who controls the booming high school drug and prostitution rackets. His slightly less than impressive gang consists of: Drugstore: the skinny and strung out drug dealer and wisecracker, Fallon: the muscle who beats people up and breaks in the new prostitutes, Barnyard: the token fat slob who loves The Clash, and Patsy: the pasty faced punk rock skank. The five of them somehow manage to control the entire school population and staff AND dominate other rival gangs via intimidation and violence. There’s an awesome racially fueled gang fight between the Swastika sporting punks and a Black gang highlighted by the young Caribbean accented gang leader saying “No one messes around with my man Leroy. I’m gonna cut you white meat!”A fresh faced and non twitchy Michael J Fox appears in an important supporting role as a band geek who takes a shank to the kidneys after narcing on the gang for selling his best friend a lethal dose of dust.

Mr. Norris tries his best to do things by the book and keep the kids in line but it proves useless. He tries to turn the kids in but the police are unable to do anything because of a lack of proof. His only ally in the school is the burnt out and booze addled Biology teacher, played very convincingly by the legendary Roddy McDowall. After a sick and disgusting act of retribution where the punks skin every cute little bunny in the bio lab, Roddy eventually snaps and decides to teach his class at gunpoint! Mr. Norris barely manages to talk him out of blowing the students away, and he will eventually regret that decision.

During a bizarre bathroom showdown with the teacher, Stegman smashes his own face into a mirror and convincingly blames Mr. Norris for it. Norris finally gets pissed off and destroys Stegman’s beloved automobile in return. Stegman then declares all out war on the teacher. The movie reaches a whole new level of nastiness when the punks show up at the Norris household and gang rape his pregnant wife! This unspeakable act leads to the final showdown at the big band recital. The pasty faced punk rock skank (who looks very fuckable by the way!) shows up and presents Polaroids of the dirty deed to Mr. Norris, which is enough to finally make him ditch his pacifist ways and start spilling blood like a man! This teacher will assure that the class of 1984 will earn a higher degree in pain! “Life is pain. Pain is everything. You will learn.”

I’m a huge fan of this flick! Few revenge themed films are this satisfying. The end sequence where Mr. Norris has to fight his way though the high school and finally gets his revenge on the gang is fantastic. Arms are severed, table saws sever spines, people are set on fire, plummet to their deaths, and are crushed with cars! This flick is also exceptionally well made and acted. It almost plays like an after school special, only with a bad case of herpes. This flick drips with a genuinely sleazy punk rock atmosphere. There’s a nifty scene where Stegman and his pals go to a punk rock club and skank to the ripping sounds of Teenage Head! Speaking of music, I almost forget to mention the incredibly cheesy theme song “I Am The Future” which was provided by Alice Cooper. Quite an embarrassment for old Alice, as it sounds like a very lame Broadway tune!

Anchor Bay released a beautiful dvd of CLASS OF 1984 that features goodies like the trailer, a director’s commentary track, and interviews with Perry King and his on-screen wife Merrie Lynn Ross. I highly recommend a purchase. This one gets better every time I watch it.

 

KEEP THE BLOOD FLOWING!!!

 

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One Response to “REVENGE!!!”

  1. Davesplatter Says:

    Love ’em all but The Exterminator is my favorite on this list. Another good Edition Hammer. miss you bud.

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