The Action Mutant…
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review by Joe Burrows
So I run by this David A. Prior helmed A.I.P. ditty on late night TV and was giddily entertained by its immense badness for 1 hour 45 minutes (A.I.P. films are usually so short that the last 10-15 minutes of its 2 hour time slot are filled with junk like commercials or featurettes on My Wife and Kids or The George Lopez Show). After I see a newly discovered movie, I read up about it on IMDB to get a better perspective for my initial review. And who would have guessed this particular movie has a pretty (un)healthy cult following? How much so? Look at its message board, which has 2 pages of posts (most A.I.P features have no posts)! And while it’s seemingly not well known in America, the majority of Deadly Prey’s user comments are from Britain or Australia! Oh dear reader, I’ve only scraped the barrel of oddness. To do that, you need to check out this! Maybe there are some things I do better not know about.
The Plot, as it was:
A retired military man named Col. Hogan (David Campbell) is out to assemble the perfect band of mercenaries to employ for hire by a high powered businessman named Michaelson (Troy Donahue). Hogan trains the soldiers by plucking ordinary schmoes off the street and letting them loose in the woods to be hunted down for practice. Of course, the next guy captured happens to be MIKE DANTON (Ted Prior…trust me, the name deserves caps), the best soldier Hogan ever trained in ‘Nam (“He was the best in ‘Nam…and he’s still the best!”)! Systematically, DANTON picks off all of the soldiers (some who have the temerity to die more than 4 times!) and has some extra incentive when his bubble-headed wife Jaimy (Suzanne Tara) is captured by Hogan. HOOO-GAN!
Don’t shoot me…I’m only the reviewer!:
A proper synopsis cannot properly describe how horrible and (unintentionally, of course) hilarious this Grade Y action saga is! Must…devolve…into…list form! If any of the below appeals to you, this movie’s the ticket:
- extras that die several times, as opposed to hiring new extras to play dead soldiers!
- the hero hiding a scant few feet above his enemies in a bare tree!
- explosions that appear to be from different films!
- Ted Prior’s amazingly boss mullet!
- stilted line readings by Donahue and Prior semi-staple Cameron Mitchell (Rage to Kill, Space Mutiny) so screamingly wooden, they would make Shatner exclaim “That’s bad!”
- Mitchell’s seemingly clairvoyant interrogation of Jaimy’s knowledge of license plates!
- Styrofoam/ cardboard boulders!
- a man being beaten to death with his own arm!
- the fact that everyone can somehow find the “super secret” training base!
- seeing the hero eat worms and rats one night, yet easily making his way home the next night…to get more weapons!
- the fact that Hogan can deduce its DANTON doing the killing merely by seeing that his men were stabbed and placed face down (“That’s his style” WHAT FUCKING STYLE?)
- seeing the hero surviving multiple grenade and TANK blasts with barely a scratch!
What does this all mean? This movie’s fucking hilarious, from the obvious rip/ode to the plot of The Most Dangerous Game to the wholly inappropriate ending (following a brutal slaughter with a sappy 80s love ballad is only something that could have happened…in the 80s!). Bad acting, horrible SFX, ultra cheap production values, all done with a straight face? It’s a Prior/A.I.P. film and proud of it!
Body Count/Violence: 60! After a slow start, DANTON and Co. bring the party that rocks the body in many levels. People are (in no particular order) stabbed, shot, clubbed with logs, having backs broken against trees, necks snapped, stabbed by wooden spears in the back, chest and neck, drowned, taken out by sharp booby traps, having arm severed by machete and beaten with said arm (!), scalped, blown up, hit with grenades, crushed by cardboard boulders, etc. Some of the bloodier kills look somewhat competent…some others…um, don’t.
Sexuality/Nudity: There’s an implied rape at one point but nothing is shown. Seeing Prior run about in cutoffs and barefoot (and with that mullet!) is graphic enough.
Language/Dialogue: A few F bombs and milder profanities suffice here.
How bad was it?:
I’m sure I’ve made it clear by now but if not, this film is amazingly bad. Jaw droppingly bad. Orgasmically bad (?) However, the majority of feedback on IMDB christens this as one of the “best Worst Films” ever. No actual reviews are available but it’s definitely worth the look if you’re into cinematic train wrecks (and face it, you’re reading this).
Did it make the studio’s day?:
Filmed in Riverside, California, there are no box office/budget figures for Deadly Prey, as is the case with all A.I.P. features (though I’m sure the term “millions” will never show up). Its American video release date was 11/2/88 and can be found on amazon.com for as low as $9.88 on VHS (a testament of its cult value, considering VHS prices today).
Entertainment value: *****/*****
Copyright 2007 The Action Mutant.