Wednesday, May 13, 2009


Reviewed by Keith Hall, Jr.

Just plain old KILL would have been a more accurate title since that's all that happens in this movie. No conversation begins without one of its participants being blasted. No scene proceeds without one character being dispatched. No task is completed without somebody getting plugged. It's as if director Frank Harris were constantly saying to himself, "Oops, I haven't had a killing in three seconds. Better toss one in."

The plot is very simple. Yes, that's a good word for it. Simple. Cameron Mitchell and Stack Pierce are gun dealers who sell a batch of automatic weapons to a gang whose motto must be "If we commit a robbery, we kill everybody within a hundred miles in order to eliminate any witnesses. That way, we won't have to wear masks, which would look suspicious." Thus, whenever these guys heist a supermarket, they slaughter everything in sight.

After several of these massacres, the police decide that things might soon get out of hand, so they assign Leo Fong and Richard Roundtree to investigate. Since this film is made with the full cooperation of the Riverside, California (I was married near there, but that's another story, I guess) Police Department, we are treated to lots of shots of the boys in blue gearing up for action, speeding around in their cars, and generally search for possible supermarket stickup guys carrying enough firepower to win World War III. The film's technical advisor, Special Agent Ronald J. Adams, even gets in front of the camera and portrays himself, telling our two agents to always get their man. To be honest, Agent Adams' performance isn't too bad; he's a hell of a lot more convincing than Fong.

Now, notice that I've nowhere said this is a bad film. Mitchell, Pierce, Roundtree and a few others give professional performances (I've heard that the really bad actors had money in the film), and you can find yourself laughing giddily as you try to decide how Harris will fit another killing into a scene. In fact, damned if he didn't fool me once: Mitchell enters a diner for a snack and is annoyed by a crying baby. I was positive he was going to blast the kid, but he only strangles the mother, so the film does offer some surprises.

But my big question is, whatever happened to Richard Roundtree? When he played Shaft, I thought for sure he would become a superstar, yet here he is third-billed in this cheapie. What's the story?

(Originally published in Temple of Schlock #8, June 1988)

1 comment:

Samuel Wilson said...

Harris, Fong, Pierce and Mitchell got together again for Low Blow two years later, a much cheaper film that Fong wrote about an attack on a cult compound by a team of fighters recruited from a literal pit-fighting tournament. Fong &/or Harris should probably be recognized as important junk auteurs of the 1980s.