Horror, Satire, Slasher

The Last Horror Film (1982)

Comments Off on The Last Horror Film (1982) 22 January 2016

fanatic

Studio: Troma

Theatrical Release: October 9. 1982 (film festival) 

Blu Ray Release: December 15, 2015 

Director: David Winters

Review by James Klein

I don’t even know where to start with reviewing The Last Horror Film (presented here under the original title Fanatic). I saw The Last Horror Film many years ago on VHS which didn’t leave much of an impression on me. I think I wanted another Maniac, which also stars the same performers as in The Last Horror Film. I think the bizarre sense of humor threw me off at the time but watching it now, I enjoy the absurdness and the spontaneous insanity that suddenly takes place in The Last Horror Film. Plain and simple, this movie is batshit.

The late great always sweaty and greasy Joe Spinell stars as Vinny, a taxi cab driver in NYC who fantasizes about Hollywood starlet Jana Bates (Caroline Munro whose sporting one ridiculous looking haircut). Vinny wants to make a horror film with Jana Bates who he believes will be happy to star in his movie despite the fact that he’s this slimeball cab driver. Confusing reality with fantasy, Vinny quits his job and chases after Jana to the Cannes Film Festival where he hunts her down with his camera, making a guerrilla-style film. Jana’s entourage such as the sleazy producer and her boyfriend director cock block Vinny wherever he goes as he’s kicked out of clubs, restaurants and press interviews. Vinny soon flips his marbles and starts killing off anyone who gets in his path that tries to stop him from meeting Jana Bates.

A film like this could not be made today. First off, the film was shot during the 1981 Cannes Film Festival so there are several celebrities who pop up unexpectedly as they had no idea they were being filmed. Director Winters never got permission to shoot in Cannes so Karen Black, John Hurt, and Kris Kristofferson all make cameo appearances in a movie they probably had and still have no idea they were in. These are some of my favorite moments because its an amazing time capsule to see some of these older stars promoting films like For Your Eyes Only or The French Lieutenant’s Woman. Second, the movie is almost completely shot MOS so many of the actors voices were dubbed back into the film. The ADR work is laughably bad and very noticeable. I found it added to the strange charm that The Last Horror Film has. Listen, even with a higher budget, this ridiculous movie was never meant to be some sort of cinematic masterpiece. It’s a silly satire on fandom and film making and in that aspect, the movie works and is fun.

Both performers try their best without winking to the camera, as if they are in on the joke. Spinell’s Vinny is alot like Frank, his character from Maniac. He cries and screams throughout the movie along with being obsessed with his mother (played by Spinell’s actual mother). Munro takes her role seriously and actually looks frightened during several sequences when she’s being chased around by Vinny. The rest of the cast…well, thankfully aren’t in the movie much. I could have used more of Vinny’s mother as Mrs. Spinell is absolutely fucking hilarious any time she is on screen. The final few minutes of The Last Horror Film makes literally no sense at all and is so bizarre and so strange, I had to watch it a few times to make sure I wasn’t dreaming.

Now for the bad news: The Last Horror Film is released by Troma. The blu ray is missing a few extra seconds of gore that was on the old VHS tape that I had seen many years ago. The rest of the gore and nudity is intact, why are we missing a few extra seconds of gore? Not to mention the picture and print they used for this blu ray presentation looks like hell. While the brighter, indoor sequences don’t look too bad it seems that everyone in the film looks downright pale. The colors are washed out and there isn’t much detail due to the softness of the picture. And I couldn’t help but notice that during some edits the picture seems to shake at times. The 2.0 dolby sound is ok but there are moments of loud hissing and popping, especially in the opening scene. The special features that were on the old DVD (which I had never seen) have been ported over including an audio commentary by Spinell’s good friend Luke Walter who sounds too much like Abel Ferrera. I had enough when he started coughing uncontrollably into the microphone during his commentary. While there are some interesting stories told by Walter, his loud, Brooklyn accent got on my nerves after awhile. The short film Mr. Robbie directed by Combat Shock’s Buddy Giovinazzo is included as well on the blu ray. This was originally a reel made to get funding for Maniac 2 which was never filmed. This short stars Spinell as a murderous children’s show host. There’s also a video trailer for the film that may have been made when it was released on VHS. The rest of the special features are your usual Troma garbage such as Kabukiman’s Cocktail Corner and Return of Dolphin-Man and Tromadance 2015 Highlights. Yeah, I’m not watching these.

Do you like exploitation films or slasher films made in the glorious early 1980’s? If so, The Last Horror Film is for you. Others need not to apply.

Rating: Rating: ★★★☆☆

Blu Ray Rating: ★★☆☆☆

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