(US - 1987)
Directed by David Winters. Written by Maria Dante and David Winters. Cast: Robert Ginty, Merete Van Kamp, Cameron Mitchell, Olivia d'Abo, Sandy Baron, Henry Darrow, Brooke Bundy, Eduardo Lopez Rojas, David Kaufman, Clement St. George (Clement von Franckenstein), Miguel Angel Fuentes. (R, 96 mins)
After cementing his place in cult movie history as the title vigilante in 1980's THE EXTERMINATOR, Robert Ginty (1948-2009) stayed busy in B and usually C-grade exploitation fare throughout the '80s before drifting into directing in the '90s. Prior to THE EXTERMINATOR, Ginty first gained notice on a two-season stint on the NBC WWII series BAA BAA BLACK SHEEP, starring Robert Conrad, and from his co-starring gig on the first season of CBS' THE PAPER CHASE. He also had a supporting role in 1978's COMING HOME, but it was THE EXTERMINATOR that set the course for Ginty's career. He would still log time on TV with guest spots on shows like DIFF'RENT STROKES, SIMON & SIMON, QUINCY M.E., and KNIGHT RIDER, and even had his own short-lived ABC series HAWAIIAN HEAT in 1984, but he was also a regular presence at drive-ins and on video store shelves in the burgeoning '80s home video explosion. In addition to the Cannon-produced sequel EXTERMINATOR 2 (1984), Ginty also starred in films like the Thai actioner GOLD RAIDERS (1982), the Italian ROAD WARRIOR ripoff WARRIOR OF THE LOST WORLD (1983), the Spanish horror film SCARAB (1983), the Sig Shore political thriller THE ACT (1984), the French emeralds-and-chainsaws adventure WHITE FIRE (1985), and the long-shelved Empire horror film THE ALCHEMIST, shot in 1981 but unreleased until 1985, and directed by Charles Band under the pseudonym "James Amante." 1987 was Ginty's most prolific year as a B-movie headliner, with the TERMINATOR ripoff PROGRAMMED TO KILL, where he pursued cyborg Sandahl Bergman (it also featured a 14-year-old Paul Walker); the French-made Eurocine horror film MANIAC KILLER from BURIAL GROUND director Andrea Bianchi, co-starring a slumming Chuck Connors and Bo Svenson; the little-seen and even less-loved Cannon actioner THREE KINDS OF HEAT; and MISSION: KILL, a fixture in every video store in America in the late '80s that's just been rescued from oblivion with a new Blu-ray from Code Red.
Jack Klompus). Naturally, a furious Ariban and his chief lackey and supporter, wealthy aristocrat Borghini (Henry Darrow, smirking as if to say "I'm almost Robert Vaughn") use everything at their disposal to stop Cooper/"Kennedy" and quash the rebellion.
THE LAST HORROR FILM, with MANIAC stars Joe Spinell and Caroline Munro. Shoddily-made but demonstrating some clever ideas and genre deconstruction before such things were cool, THE LAST HORROR FILM displays an ambition that's carried over into MISSION: KILL. Winters isn't exactly making Oliver Stone statements, but he's also not making a mindless, jingoistic, "America! Fuck Yeah!" shoot 'em up, either. Alas, neither Winters nor co-writer Maria Dante possess quite the chops required to pull off the Thinking Man's Action Movie for which they're aiming (they would later seemingly give up on seriousness altogether with their next collaboration, the MST3K favorite SPACE MUTINY). Any time MISSION: KILL takes a step forward, it's immediately followed by two steps back, whether it's the mismatched and clumsily-integrated stock footage of explosions or Olivia d'Abo's embarrassing performance as one of the freedom fighters, saddled with a laughable wig and using an even worse accent ("Jew take care of deese peeg!"). Though it's a middling, forgettable action movie at the end of the day, MISSION: KILL has moments where it's really trying to be something more but just doesn't have the money or behind-the-scenes talent to pull it off.
|Robert Ginty (1948-2009)|