Weekly Wire
Weekly Alibi Videodrome

By Scott Phillips

DECEMBER 14, 1998: 

The Last Hunter
(1980)

Another ass-whoopin' flick from Videodrome's favorite Italian director, Anthony M. Dawson (Antonio Margheriti)! Hunter is Margheriti's oddball melding of The Deer Hunter and Apocalypse Now, and it opens with a drunken brawl in a cheap bar that quickly turns into a bloody, suicidal rampage of mayhem and destruction that sets the stage for the downbeat (yet squeal-inducing) thrills to follow. Low-budget action king David Warbeck plays Captain Henry Morris, who sets out on more-or-less the same mission Martin Sheen was on in Apocalypse Now. Morris' chopper is blown out of the sky and the tough-as-nails soldier is the only survivor of the crash. Swimming to safety, he meets up with George Washington (the machine gun-toting black soldier, not the father of our country). Washington introduces Morris to his rag-tag platoon (which includes the big pimp from Demons), but Morris is cheesed by the presence of Tisa Farrow, courageous photojournalist (women in combat situations, y'know). They set out through the jungle, stumbling across decomposing paratroopers, pits filled with spikes, dead villagers, exploding babies--all the stuff that made Vietnam such a great place to be. The waif-like Tisa Farrow's presence in the midst of all this--especially when she's poundin' down whiskey with the boys--is a little hard to swallow, but then again, she wasn't much more believable as the waif-like daughter of the scientist in Zombie, and all she had to do there was look scared and avoid being eaten. Aww, I kid that Tisa Farrow. Anyway, as night falls, we find ourselves in New York harbor for a love-drenched dream sequence, but don't worry--it turns sour real fast. The entrails, gunplay and dope-addled soul-searching come fast and furious as Morris draws ever-nearer to the end of his mission, which you just know has gotta go wrong. Nobody does this low-rent action cheese better than Antonio Margheriti, who imbues his flicks with a funky, gritty feel that you just won't find anywhere else. Grab this one and Tiger Joe, and your Vietnam experience will be complete! (Vestron)



Tombs of the Blind Dead
(1972)

This Amando De Ossorio classic is packaged as part of a terrific double-feature DVD (with Return of the Blind Dead, which I'll review soon) from Anchor Bay, but is also available on VHS. Virginia and Betty, two old friends, run into each other at a swimming pool. As they're getting reacquainted, Virginia's studly boyfriend Roger (the suavest guy ever!) emerges from the pool and invites Betty to join them on a camping trip--much to Virginia's chagrin. As they tool along on the train, we discover that Virginia's got some history of the horizontal kind with Betty. When Roger flirts with the new arrival, Virginia gets huffy and jumps off the train, making her way to a nearby castle--a castle the locals superstitiously avoid. ... OK, I don't think I have to tell you that this old pile of rocks is home to--the Tombs of the Blind Dead! Virginia starts a fire, unrolls her sleeping bag, and before she can get even a few pages into her cheap novel, a shitload of creepy zombies are clawing their way outta the ground and shambling (or riding horses!) toward her. When her body turns up chewed and manhandled, Roger and Betty set out to get to the bottom of things. Tracking down a screwball professor, they get the poop on the zombies--actually the mortal remains of the Knights Templar, who were punished for their satanic misdeeds by being strung up, after which their eyes were eaten by crows! This leads to some especially freaky stuff, as the zombies can only track their prey by listening for them. Roger and Betty recruit the professor's son, a well known smuggler (!) to help them find the truth about Virginia's killers, and then all hell breaks loose as the walking dead shuffle into action. I gotta say, nothing gives me the heebie-jeebies like a good zombie flick, and while Tombs has some slow places and is relatively light on the gore, it delivers the atmospheric chills in bucketloads. (Anchor Bay)


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