(US - 1984)
Directed by James Bryan. Written by Renee Harmon. Cast: Chris Mitchum, Aldo Ray, Antoine John Mottet, Renee Harmon, Dan Bradley, Frank Albert, Bianca Phillipi, Frisco Estes, Ricco Mancini, Bruce Barrington. (R, 86 mins)
Not picking up where THE EXECUTIONER left off because there was no EXECUTIONER, THE EXECUTIONER PART II joined the T&A comedy SURF II in the very short-lived fake sequel craze of 1984. Oh, there was a movie called THE EXECUTIONER: a largely forgettable 1970 British spy thriller with George Peppard and Joan Collins. And THE EXECUTIONER was also an alternate title for Duke Mitchell's 1974 gangster opus MASSACRE MAFIA STYLE, and the US title for both the 1978 release of a 1974 Sonny Chiba martial arts movie and the British-made 1975 Dirk Bogarde spy thriller PERMISSION TO KILL. THE EXECUTIONER PART II has nothing to do with any of those films and its intent seems to be fooling less-savvy grindhouse denizens into thinking it's a sequel to 1980's THE EXTERMINATOR, beating the actual EXTERMINATOR 2 into release by three months in the summer of 1984. Directed by James Bryan, who also made the 1981 slasher film DON'T GO IN THE WOODS, THE EXECUTIONER PART II was made for $20,000 and it still looks like none of that money made it to the screen. Exhibiting a level of production values ranking somewhere between an industrial training short and a snuff film, it's only slightly more polished than, say, MANOS: THE HANDS OF FATE. To his credit, a realistic Bryan, interviewed on Vinegar Syndrome's new DVD (where it's paired on a drive-in double feature with 1975's FROZEN SCREAM, as both films share producer/co-star Renee Harmon), openly admits it's terrible, and that he did what he could do with $20K and a crew basically consisting of himself (he's also the cinematographer). Shot in the summer of 1983 (JAWS 3-D is visible on a theater marquee) and almost certainly without permits throughout Los Angeles, the film doesn't use live sound and was dubbed in post with all the care and precision of the cheapest GODZILLA movie. The words don't match the lip movements on American (or at least English-speaking) actors speaking English, and a lot of the sound and foley effects are either way out of sync or simply not there (car doors are slammed and shotguns pumped with no accompanying sound). Shots are cut together but often don't match, or Bryan will cut away from a dialogue scene, show something completely unrelated, then cut back to the dialogue scene, apparently still in progress. Then there's the bellowing and profusely-sweating Aldo Ray, who couldn't have been on the set for more than an hour and maybe even left his car running in a fire lane while Bryan got the footage of him that he needed, and is always shot in extreme close-up on his own, sharing the frame with no one and inserted into scenes so awkwardly that it's laughably obvious he's not there with any other actors. This happens a lot in movies due to the availability of people and conflicting shooting schedules, but a good editor makes it smooth and seamless. Rarely has such a reality of the movie business been handled so badly. How badly? Ray isn't wearing glasses but his over-the-shoulder double is. In short, right on the heels of the stunning NIGHTMARE WEEKEND, Vinegar Syndrome has resurrected an '80s obscurity that deserves to be the next Bad Movie sensation. The classic MST3K line about MANOS: THE HANDS OF FATE where "every frame of this movie looks like someone's last known photograph" certainly applies here.
|He's your judge, your jury, and|
your executioner. Part II!
SUMMERTIME KILLER (1972) and RICCO THE MEAN MACHINE (1973). He bounced between the US, Europe, and the Far East, rarely distinguishing himself but occasionally turning up in something like Alejandro Jodorowsky's TUSK (1980) and the Emmy-nominated miniseries A RUMOR OF WAR (1980). But generally, he was confined to things like the Frank Stallone-starring DEATH FEUD (1987), Jess Franco's FACELESS (1988) and some schlocky but stunt-crazed Indonesian martial arts movies like LETHAL HUNTER (1989), where he'd get to display what can best be described as his unique "Lanky White Guy kung-foolery" (© me), which also gets an inevitable showcase in THE EXECUTIONER PART II. In recent years, the 72-year-old Mitchum--who's extremely likable and a great raconteur in interviews but has blamed his lack of Hollywood stardom not on his limited acting abilities but on being a staunch conservative associated with Vietnam War supporter Wayne--has had unsuccessful 2012 and 2014 Congressional bids as the Tea Party-backed House candidate from California's 24th district.
|A typical extreme close-up of Aldo Ray |
in THE EXECUTIONER PART II
|"OK, if you have to look directly into the camera,|
try not to do it more than five or six times in the
ten seconds you're onscreen."