Thursday, November 7

Some quick thoughts on The Executioner, Part II (1984)


Bad movies are great, except when they're actually bad, and James Bryan's Executioner Part II is definitely that. Snapping into the very definition of "z-grade", this cobbled together mess was fashioned purely as an attempt to capitalize on the popularity of James Glickenhaus' The Exterminator (1980). It's a feat unto itself something so shitty could come from an ultra cheap melding of that rough-hewn exploiter and Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver (1976).

Christopher Mitchum, one of the sons of the infinitely more famous Robert Mitchum, "stars" as a detective on the case of a mysterious assailant in army fatigues and black mask brutally murdering street thugs by kicking the shit out of them and then stuffing live grenades down their pants. Meanwhile, a frumpy young virgin drawn into prostitution out of drug addiction eventually crosses paths with the Executioner's bodycount. Mitchum finally discovers the vigilante is an old 'Nam buddy that once saved his life, but is that enough not to bring him in? (queue the big still on the back cover for an obvious clue)

Okay, that sounds way better than this actual endurance test. Looking over the also-ran Mitchum's filmographyExecutioner II marks the exact point where his screen career was shot in the face. He could have literally instead stared at a wall for what his character adds to the story. More interesting is a declining, skin-like-glazed-ham Aldo Ray during his glorious acting twilight. The once immensely popular and talented actor known for his war pictures shows up for a couple scenes, fumbles all over flustered lines, and uncomfortably sweats in every shot. Non-actor Antoine John Mottet as the flashback nutter dispatching gang members turns in the "best" performance, but it's drowned out by the dubbing. In fact, except for a scant few scenes, the entire movie is laughably dubbed over.

Still, there might be a few morsels if you're a diehard (and thoroughly drunk) trash fanatic. The grenade kills consist of a sloppy cutaway to a stock explosion filling the frame...in widescreen(?!?). A female reporter that keeps hounding Mitchum has one of the worst Germanic accents in film history. White gang members sporting bandanas showing their total disregard for authority by being loud and hopping off walls. Terrible fistfights scored to swingin' porn music. A strange and total lack of nudity. Or an inept Taxi Driver-riffed climax of the Executioner saving the homely girl from imminent deflowering.

Otherwise, stay away if you want to save seventy-eight (or eighty-six) minutes of your life. Director James Bryan, best known for Don't Go in the Woods (1981), exhibits no zeal despite the fun that could have been mined from such a cheap piece of crap. Overall, The Executioner, Part II is something you'd stop watching after twenty minutes if made today, but being from '84 and landlocked on VHS, you'll watch twenty minutes and then slam Fast Forward out of desperation. If you're still interested, Continental Video cut the movie down to seventy-eight minutes for their double feature big box VHS paired with an also chopped down Frozen Scream (1975). The scarce Japanese VHS above from MiMi Video presents the presumably uncut eighty-six minute version, only prolonging the head pain.

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