Saturday, July 11, 2009

"Combat Shock/American Nightmares"(1986)d/Buddy Giovinazzo

As a much younger Wop than the one you're gazing at lovingly before you,I remember being Christmas morning-excited when Buddy G.'s symphony of shellshock was finally given its vhs baptism,after hearing so much about it in the pages of my favorite horror 'zines of the day like Chas Balun's Deep Red.I rallied the neighborhood troops that night and we screened it on the woodgrain Magnavox in the parlour,and delighted in the horrific,disturbing spectacle that played out on the screen like David Lynch meets Martin Scorsese-on-welfare and scripted by Kevin Smith.As twisted as we were,the doctor could have never written us a 'script of this magnitude,baby!Giovinazzo was on the page we were just turning over to,yet as quickly as we had discovered his venemous video visions,he all but disappeared...
The noisy whirr of the fast forward button brings us over twenty years ahead,where the classiest of the classless,Troma Inc. have once again gone above and beyond the competition in releasing this forgotten cult classic in a beautiful two disc twenty-fifth anniversary edition,stuffed full of mouth-watering extras,and boasting of two cuts of the crucial independent shocker,the original "Combat Shock" theatrical cut(which you probably missed unless you were a listless wino on the Deuce back in '86),and "American Nightmares",the never-before-seen director's cut!Fucking glorious!
The portions never look this big when I order ribs at the Vietnamese joint by my place...
Frankie Dunlan(Buddy's brother Ricky)has nightly flashbacks to the killing fields of Vietnam,where he may or may not have gone bananas,wiping out an entire village and his own platoon in a meaty bloodbath,before being taken prisoner and subjected to psychological and physical torture at the hands of the communist enemy in a muddy bamboo hell-cage.For Frankie,unfortunately,those were the salad days.Nowadays he subsists in a skeevy ghetto broom closet with his pregnant wife and one year old,brutally deformed and defected by the Agent Orange his father was exposed to while fighting for the American way,somewhere in the worst corner of Staten Island.He hasn't worked in months,the family hasn't eaten in days,the cupboards are bare,and the old lady in the shoe would have cashed her chips in ages ago.He dons his least dirty set of rags and braves the urban sprawl,desperately striving for survival.His friends mug people in broad daylight for fix money,his enemies chase him down alleys,shaking him down for money he couldn't dream of having at this point.He even contemplates wrestling a slobbery bone out of a junkyard dog's mouth.While he stands hopelessly in the unemployment line,his junkie pal Mike scores a hundred bag of skag,which he overdoses on in a dilapidated lot full of garbage,after tearing open his vein with a rusty coat hanger and dumping the stepped-on heroin into the gaping,bloody hole in his arm.Glamorous.
A vein-tapping that would make Joan Crawford's toes curl.
After striking out at the unemployment office and a phonecall to his father,who believed he was killed in duty years ago,and being slapped up by the local pimp when he tries to befriend a hussied up pre-teen prostitute,Frankie decides to take matters into his own hands,and mug a young girl for her purse.Back home,his wife Cathy is spooning stale breadcrumb/water mix into the crying mouth of their freak baby,watching the broken tv set,and washing their rags in the dirty sink.Ah,family life.Just as Frankie feeds his victim a hearty knuckle sandwich and makes off with her pocketbook,Paco and his ridiculously dressed henchmen chase down and reaquaint their luckless friend with the concrete.A half-conscious and bloodied Frankie discovers a pistol that had fallen out of the purse in the melee,that the female vic had stolen earlier from his friend's corpse(!),and exacts revenge on the three goons.He gathers up some ammunition and stumbles groggily back to his tenement building,his mind finally clear about both the events in Asia,and what he must do to end his family's perpetual suffering.The conclusion of this grim fairy tale will stay with you long after you've ejected the disc.Trust me.
The Dunlans might wanna skip that sitting at Picture People.Just saying.
I really can't say enough about the bang up job the folks at Troma(Thanks Evan!) have done with this film,and wholeheartedly endorse you running right the fuck out and adding it to your respective movie collections.It's easily the genre DVD release of the year thus far.Look for a full interview with director Buddy G. right here at Wopsploitation in the very near future,as a follow up to this entry.If you're any kind of cult/horror/exploitation enthusiast at all,this gritty little ditty has it ALL.Ample gore,impressive low-tech effects and makeup,an effective script chock full o' black humour(the best kind,eh!),and adequate performances by the cast,which was made up of Buddy's family,friends,and even ex-wife.This comes VERY highly recommended,and upon it,I bestow the highest possible number of Wops!
"It's only three swigs of curdled milk,Ricky,jeez,stop being such a diva!"

1 comment:

sildenafil said...

It is a great movie, a lot of blood is shown in this one, the plot a little odd, but overall it is a must see movie.

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