Extreme Vengeance (1990)

 Extreme Vengeance
(1990)- * * *

Directed by: Roger Zahr

Starring: David A. Cox, Michael De Costa, Tanya Lemani, Al Bordighi, Gina Bergee, Lisa Hamilton, Brian Lally, and Mesmera

"Are we gonna do some talkin' or are we gonna do some dyin'?" – David

When evil mob boss Mario Blanco (De Costa) kills a young man named Michael (Kaidley), he upsets the wrong man: an angry ex-cop known only as David (Cox). David had to retire after 18 years on the force because he exposed police corruption. In other words, he "couldn't play by the rules". He flies from Chicago to L.A. to get justice for his son, and it's there he reconnects with his ex-wife Helen (Lemani) and their daughter Jenney (Bergee). He also starts his quest for revenge by working with his friend Billy (Lally) and ex-mobster Don Alfonso (Bordighi). 

When David's girlfriend Sally (Hamilton) follows him to California, his personal troubles break loose and melodrama rains down. Things get worse when Blanco's goons beat up his wife and attempt to rape his daughter. David wasn't home at the time because he was watching a snake dancer (Mesmera). Now nothing is going to stand in the way of David's EXTREME VENGEANCE!

If it's one thing we love here at Comeuppance Reviews, it's when a surly elderly man takes out the trash. By that we mean by shooting them, blowing them up, creating a convoluted exploding soccer ball, poisoning their pasta, whatever the case may be. Extreme Vengeance is a micro-budgeted mob movie that delivers the surly. And the elderly. In spades. The presence and the performance of David A. Cox as David (please tell me this is how he is in real life) is a joy to behold. You put that together with his fashion choices and you've got quite a heady mix. 

Of course, the similarities to the Death Wish series are rather obvious, and in case AIP thought that wasn't clear enough, their tagline for the VHS box is "His Death Wish Has Just Begun".

Is that a reference to the fact that they thought the Bronson series was over by that point? Because they were wrong - Death Wish V: The Face of Death came out in 1994. A per usual with AIP, the people featured on the box are not in the movie. Nevertheless, David and Blanco make good nemeses for each other - they both openly proclaim that they hate wimps.

Blanco looks like an overweight Hal Linden and clearly he's the ultimate villain for the grumpy grandpa to face off against.

According to the imdb, Cox had a small role in North by Northwest (1959). It's fascinating to think that not only does his career stretch back that far, but as an actor one minute you're working with Hitchcock, and in the blink of an eye you're starring in an AIP movie with practically no budget, pacing issues, amateurish technical qualities and muddy audio and filled with non-professional actors. Of course, for us that's all part of the fun and not at all a bad thing. Director Roger Zahr got his movie into stores and that's extremely impressive. About as extreme as the vengeance, you might say.

A highlight of the film is the main theme song, "Restless" by Andy. Just Andy. It's a catchy synth-pop ditty that follows David around as he does all the important things: arriving at Burbank airport, picking up his luggage, hunting for badguys in the strip mall with Dr. Deli, etc. Once heard, never forgotten.

Writer/director Zahr is indeed multi-talented. He also worked on the film's soundtrack, including the synths and, according to the credits, "percution". We assume they mean "percussion". As we always say, when your movie credits feature spelling errors, you know you're in for cinematic gold. Or at least an experience that is very much unlike most others and well out of the mainstream. That's what makes Extreme Vengeance and others like it so enjoyable to watch, and so fascinating: they're not just time capsules, they seem to have come from another world entirely. 

If that sounds good to you, then Extreme Vengeance will float your boat.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty


Dark Rider (1991)

Dark Rider
(1991)- * * *

Directed by: Bob Ivy

Starring: Joe Estevez, Doug Shanklin, David 'Shark' Fralick, Holly Floria, Alica Anne, Terry Brown, Larry Goodhue, and Cloyde Howard

Jim Wilson (Shanklin) is the Sheriff of the small town of Desert Springs, Nevada. The sleepy ol' burg gets a wake up call when Mayor Bradford (Howard) excitedly runs into Wilson's office, proclaiming that a new highway is going to begin construction that passes through Desert Springs. Because of this, Bradford sees hotels and casinos in his future. He wants it to be the new Las Vegas.

Unfortunately, this brings in a criminal element in the form of Anthony Sandini (Estevez) and his goons such as Joey (Fralick). Sandini is a ruthless baddie who is forcing all the locals to sell their businesses to him. If they refuse, he uses force. Meanwhile, Sheriff Wilson's wife Lisa (Anne) informs him that her sister Dani (Floria) is coming to stay with them for a while. When Sandini and his underlings don't get their way, they kidnap Dani.

That was the last straw for Wilson who quickly changes into his black leather Revenge Outfit, becomes a crusading superhero known as The Dark Rider, and proceeds to dispense justice. But will even Wilson run into the brick wall of bureaucracy when he meets a fed named Borgman (Goodhue) who informs him of the conspiracy that goes all the way to the top involving the town's water supply? Now with his hands full with many different problems and issues, will THE DARK RIDER be victorious?

Dark Rider begins with a bunch of yahoos in a car, having a discussion about how the sheriff of Desert Springs - who they have yet to meet - is rumored to be a "badass". They soon run into Shanklin (in his final credited film appearance) as Wilson, who has quite interesting helmet hair that's blonde on top but brown on the sides. He has the star and six-shooter of the sheriffs of yore and looks vaguely like Martin Kove. He makes short work of the yahoos.

When the sinister Sandini comes to town, we see he is ruining smalltown America by running down mulleted shop clerks with his car. Wilson has met his match with Sandini. He's not dealing with garden variety yahoos anymore. We also get a cinematic first with "Sandini Vision". Among the good guys standing up to Sandini is the likable Tommy Johnson (Brown). Brown really gives it his all and he wins the audience over.

The first half of Dark Rider is markedly more entertaining than the second half, as you may have been able to gather from the above description. Even after the appearance of the Dark Rider character - who, hilariously, no one realizes is Wilson despite the fact that he's the only lawman in town and the personal nature of his revenge, not to mention they're never seen together at the same time - we still missed the down-home, small town feel of the first half. Much like the Dark Rider's motorbike, the film starts to spin its wheels towards the end. If this had been 80 minutes, it could've been a new classic. At a seemingly-reasonable 94 minutes, it does tend to drag a bit.

As the main baddie, Joe Estevez gets a nice, meaty role. He's not in the background or in a room staring at computer screens. It's solid Estevez. Mayor Bradford, who resembles Richard Mulligan, also puts in a Terry Brown-like performance. He's very animated. A movie highlight occurs when he writes a note to Sheriff Wilson and spells "Sheriff" wrong.

So with Shanklin, Estevez, Fralick, Terry Brown, the two ladies - including the Christina Applegate-esque Dani, who we would have liked to seen more of - all in an AIP production, you can't really lose, and you basically don't. This was the sole writing and directing credit for Bob Ivy, who primarily was a stuntman. This would explain the presence of the great John Stewart, an amazing stuntman and director of Action U.S.A. (1989) and Cartel (1990).

In the end, Dark Rider is a lot like Fast Gun (1988). If you enjoyed that, check this out too. If it had maintained the momentum it opened with, it may have surpassed Fast Gun. As it stands, Fast Gun may be better overall but Dark Rider has a lot to recommend it as well and is very much worth checking out.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty

Also check out a write-up from our buddy, The Video Vacuum!