Friday, March 14, 2008

Dead End City

The Action Mutant…
wonders when street toughs will come back into style.

Dead End City

review by Joe Burrows

Action Mutant FAQ time! Q: What is an A.I.P. picture?
A: An A.I.P. (Action International Pictures) film is a cheap, low budget Action and/or Sci-Fi film that will most likely show up during the 2 a.m. time slot on your local syndicated station. These films would most likely not pass muster anywhere else, even during TNT’s late night glory days of Joe Bob Briggs (Best double bill ever: Motel Hell followed by Night of the Lepus, IMO). Anyway, A.I.P. (not to be confused with American or Arkoff International Pictures) was founded in 1986 by David Winters, Peter Yuval and David A. Prior. Though the company lasted just 8 years, there were 41 films distributed by them and many of them included the same reparatory cast. Prior would direct most of the efforts, usually shot on location in his home state of Alabama. There, a limitless parade of Vietnam combat fields, tropical jungles and bustling metropolises were filmed with a budget equal to that of a stop at Home Depot for a weekend project on the Hibachi. Today, such a place doesn’t exist anymore but remember…when you’re drunk off your ass at 2 in the morning and you keep seeing a war scene with soldiers wearing Converses that looks like it was filmed in your backyard and containing explosions that are on the scale of a 4th grade science project…well, it’s not a dream.

The Plot, as it was:
Robert Z’Dar (Maniac Cop, Tango & Cash) is the leader of a street gang known as The Ratts. They have terrorized an unnamed city to the point that its tenants have been evacuated by authorities, essentially turning it into a wasteland. Only one group of people, led by a factory owner (Greg Cummins) and a persistent reporter (Christine Lunde) are left in the city and they are sticking around to take a stand against the gang. However, there is more to the gang’s actions than meets the eye.

Don’t shoot me…I’m only the reviewer!:
Despite a somewhat promising start, there’s not much to distinguish this from the usual A.I.P. offering. The further it goes on, the more it looks like every other apocalyptic biker movie from the era. The subplot involving government conspiracy (isn’t that how it always is?) just tends to bog the film down; despite the fact is was just gun battle after gun battle before that. Z’Dar actually gives a fun performance, as he’s easy to pay attention to anyway with his distinctive facial features. He’s easily the most entertaining thing about the film, which strains to be nothing more than an occasionally entertaining time killer, despite its limitations (which, considering it’s A.I.P., are many).

Body Count/Violence: 44. There’s lots of shooting and some blood involved, along with some fighting and explosions. Not as gratuitously violent as other A.I.P. efforts but it will satisfy those knowing of its low standards.

Sexuality/Nudity: Ingrid Vold has her bra exposed and gets her skirt lifted up but that’s as far as in goes. As a break from action protocol, Cummins and Lunde never get to consummate their relationship. As an aside, Lunde looks like a wrestling valet that works in the Maryland area…except with 80s hair.

Language/Dialogue: A few F words and other milder obscenities.

How bad was it?:
A.I.P. films don’t tend to be reviewed much, probably because most only see a video store shelf or drive-in, let alone the light of day. The IMDB has it at a 6.3 but with only 11 votes, which tells me there may be a lot of stuffing in the ballot box.

Did it make the studio’s day?:
There are no box office figures, which isn’t much of a shock. I assumed it turned in a profit at such a low budget. It is available on Amazon under AIP Video and for as low as 69 cents! Brilliant!

Film: *1/2/*****
Entertainment value: ***1/2/*****

Copyright 2007 The Action Mutant.

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