Monday, April 9, 2012

Thou shall KILL everyone...


THOU SHALT NOT KILL ... EXCEPT was one of the last gasps of the 80s exploitation indie movement. Directed by Josh Becker on 16mm with a budget you couldn't feed a family on, the film is really a triumph of where there is a will there's a way, up by your jockstrap style filmmaking. Typified by the fellas that came out of Detroit at that time. Josh Becker made this film, Sam Raimi, well we know what movies he has made, and their buddy Scott Spiegel made INTRUDER a few years later. This group all had the true indie spirit that shone through on all their projects.A lot of love and a LOT of time went inter their work. THOU SHALT NO KILL...EXCEPT is a shinning example of that spirit. 

 The movie opens with four buddies fighting their way through some stock footage in Vietnam (and some trees that are clearly up state Michigan). Soon the battle hardened friends are back home trying to adjust. Seeing family again, meeting girls, just trying to start over.

But a nasty cult of murderous fanatics have started cutting their way through the neighborhood and it is up to the boys to stop them. The cult gets all the good scenes with Sam Riami as the MANSON  styled leader and brother Ted Raimi as the efeminate gang member Chains who likes to torture people. Whether tormenting babies or feeling up babes with hands full of blood theses guys know how to party.

It all culminates in an ultra-violent low budget Peckinpah styled showdown that spreads the red stuff all over the screen. Are you looking for a gory action revenge movie to get you to your feet? This one delivers the goods. And then some. 

The long making of segment is shockingly thorough covering from the script stage all the way through the vhs release (they got $50,000  for the vhs rights!!! My god that is a dead era now!) I most enjoyed seeing the theaters playing the film first run. The marquee's with this title running along side the big films of the day was a kick to see. As it was only a few more years and these sorts of movies didn't get into theaters at all.

Also as an extra the Super 8mm version of the film, this time called STRYKER'S WAR and starring a very young Bruce Campbell. It is just as accomplished as feature version. A lot of the same scenes exist in the even lower budgeted version of the movie. Though at times it is even better as it is played completely straight, with no camping it up. At almost an hour long, it is just shy of being a feature. Too bad there was no way to distribute super 8mm films at the time as this one actually stands on its own as a gritty little movie. 

It is a funny thing that for my money the Blu Rays that have been the most impressive in my collection have turned out to be the completely no budget films. Movies shot on shoestrings, usually on 16mm for peanuts. When remastered with love and care they have turned into gorgeous Blu discs worth their weight in gold. Add THOU SHALT NOT KILL... EXCEPT to the list. Looking at this disc after the previous incarnations is almost mind blowing. It STILL looks like a 16mm film, with the grain and grit intact, but it is so clear and clean that it looks like it was SHOT yesterday. You can almost reach into your TV and put your fingers into the pools of coagulating blood. An astounding job in every way putting this movie back out in this format.

Review © Andrew Copp

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