Monday, December 21, 2015

Joe Spinell is a Fanatic in The Last Horror Film

aka Fanatic

Director: David Winters

Cast: Joe Spinell, Caroline Munro, Judd Hamilton, Devin Goldenberg, David Winters

Troma Team Video / All Region Blu-ray / Rated R / 16x9 widescreen / Mono / English / 87 minutes

EXTRAS: The return of one of Troma's most beloved characters, Dolphin-Man / New intro by Lloyd Kaufman / Audio commentary / Highlights from the 2015 Tromadance Film Festival. / Mr. Robbie (A shortfilm by Buddy Giovinazzo (Combat Shock) starring Joe Spinell) / A full episode of Troma's latest web-series "Kabukiman's Cocktail Corner" starring Paul Booth


Any self-respecting "reviewer" can't properly analyze or scrutinize a movie starring Joe Spinell without mentioning his most famous role as "Frank Zito" in the seminal grindhouse slasher classic Maniac. In that most infamous of roles, Spinell portrayed one of the most disgustingly sick killers of all time, and he did it well. He just has the look of a greasy, filthy scumbag who would rape you and throw you in the river after he chopped you up into little pieces. What a lot of horror fans don't know is that he had a bit part in The Godfather, a recurring role in the first two Rocky movies and also appeared in some capacity in 50+ other movies. But let's be realistic... he IS that grimy psycho killer we know and love from Maniac and he revisits the role (kinda) here in The Last Horror Film.

Spinell plays "Vinny Durand", a disturbed NYC cab driver who believes he is going to direct the most brilliant horror movie ever made that will star his celebrity crush "Jana Bates" (Munro). His delusions are kicked into high gear after some co-workers mock him for his crazy crush and it sends him into overdrive. He follows Jana to The Cannes Film Festival where she is promoting her new movie Scream (not the Neve Campbell one!) in hopes of convincing her to act in his horror masterpiece. As he creepily stalks her and her entourage trying to get a chance to talk to her about the hypothetical opportunity, it seems that he may be getting too close as everyone in his way is getting murdered in grisly ways by a mysterious killer. Has Vinny finally gone over the edge with his obsession or does someone else want to make this Jana's last horror film?

Even though this is sort of a continuation of the Zito character, don't make the mistake of thinking that Spinell is a one-trick pony. The two are very similar but "Vinny" and "Frank" also have their own personalities as well as their own motives. Vin is more of a troubled, lonely little boy more than a seething, misogynistic killer. Although he has the potential for the latter, for sure. He is the guy that you don't want to tell that you think he's making shit up because he may just eat your head, but he also calls his mother to gain her approval for a job well done. Spinell plays the obsessive fan-boy to an uncomfortable tee. His character has delusional visions of grandeur and fantasy and at one point during one of the visions, he dons make-up and a dress and dances around while watching a stripper shake her thang.

"Bond Girl" Caroline Munro does a decent job as the object of Vinny's affection but I couldn't get past her skunk-colored hair. It just looked... odd. Speaking of girls in the movie, there is ass-tons of tits throughout the run time of The Last Horror Film. From the opening scene of a buck naked, fake-titted chick getting electrocuted in a hot tub to the plethora of French honeys sunbathing topless on the beach, there had to be at least 30 juggs (on 15 women) on screen. But not only do we get bushels of boob-ahs, but the kills are pretty fucking violent and messy. The one that stands out to me is the killer taking a hatchet to his/her victim but all you see is the force of the hatchet coming down and the torrents of blood splashing up. The way it was shot was brutal. Good acting, likeable characters, tits, violence, gore... this one is a winner in my book.

Now for the bad news; this Blu-ray looks pretty terrible. In the opening scene where the girl is in the hot tub, bathing in pink light, you literally can't tell what the fuck is happening. The contrasts throughout are completely jacked up making everything too bright, blowing out the colorful palette of the movie. I popped in my Troma DVD from a couple of years ago and aside from the new widescreen presentation, the Blu-ray is definitely not a complete upgrade. The DVD has nice contrasts and the colors pop much more than the Blu-ray. The DVD is pretty muddy and dark in parts which may be the reason they decided to try and brighten up the whole picture. Also unfortunate is the deletion of the Lustig interview from the DVD on the new Blu-ray although they do add some new stuff like an episode of the very silly web series "Kabukiman's Cocktail Corner".

The movie is pretty fucking great so do yourself a favor and pick it up if you can find it for a good price. Just don't expect a quality high-definition experience.

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