Directed by: Jun Gallardo
Starring: Chris Mitchum, Linda Blair, and Gordon Mitchell
Steve Baker (Mitchum) has anyone’s dream job: he’s a special effects technician on movie sets, specializing in pyro. In other words, he travels to jungles far and wide in his tricked-out van and sets up the controls that provide the explosions. When the director calls “action!”, that’s exactly what Baker provides. His life gets more complicated, however, when he has a chance meeting with a woman named Doris (Blair). It seems Doris is on the run from mobsters, the lead baddie being Morgan (Mitchell). So, Baker fights off the baddies the only way he knows how – using his bag of “SFX” tricks. You’d think the bad guys would learn not to mess with Steve Baker, but at least they get one valuable takeaway: don’t upset his cobra.
The ever-reliable and ever-laconic Chris Mitchum teams up with The Firing Line (1988) director Gallardo to turn in this entertaining winner of a movie. There are some extremely cool sequences, and, speaking of cool, it’s hard to get much cooler than Chris Mitchum, especially in this movie. His nonchalant attitude is a joy to watch. He’s surrounded by a swirl of silly accents, sillier dialogue, and plenty of mindless shooting. That’s what highlights the “SFX” scenes that much more; other exploding-hut-type movies don’t have that type of innovation, so ‘Retaliator stands out from the crowd. Much like how Steve Baker’s awesome van would stand out in traffic.
The whole outing is like something Arizal would direct, and features a low-budget exploding helicopter. Criminally, SFX Retaliator has never been released on any format in the U.S. (or even in the U.K. as far as we know). This could have been, at the very least, a cult classic if someone like Vestron or Lightning Video had put it onto video store shelves in 1987. Sadly, that was not to be, and as of this writing, SFX Retaliator sits patiently waiting for rediscovery. A company like Roninflix or Vinegar Syndrome should release it on Blu-Ray. Until that happens, there’s always YouTube.
SFX Retaliator is a lot of fun and well worth your time.
Comeuppance Review by: Ty and Brett