A young woman is gang raped and murdered in a California college town, sparking her brother Kevin to take up arms by night with a gang of like-minded vigilantes from his fraternity, ...
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John F. Goff,
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Penelope Ann Miller,
A young woman is gang raped and murdered in a California college town, sparking her brother Kevin to take up arms by night with a gang of like-minded vigilantes from his fraternity, brutally punishing any miscreants they catch in a criminal act. In the meantime, Kevin debates the issue of violent crime in the U.S. with his teachers and others during the day. As Kevin and his gang head toward a final, bloody confrontation with the low-lifes who murdered his sister, other scenes show the difference between his character, now violent, and the normal people he is supposedly protecting. Written by
Normally I hate 80's action movies, but this one was written and directed by anti-auteur Lawrence Foldes, so I knew that, although it would no doubt be completely incompetently made, it would also violate all the tedious clichés and formulas of the genre (not to mention all the boundaries of good taste), and I certainly wasn't disappointed. This starts out as a typical dumb frat comedy (with some surprisingly homoerotic pranks and hazing rituals). Then in a change of tone so sudden it might give you whiplash, the younger sister of one the fraternity guys is brutally and graphically raped and murdered by a gang of bikers. The cops won't do anything as usual, which is very odd since they are represented here by the father of the hero and the murdered girl (Ernest Borgnine)and his partner Shaft, I mean, Richard Roundtree. The brother becomes a vigilante and very implausibly gets his beer-drinking, good-time frat buddies to join him, even though he gets almost all of them killed. But you see they're all graduates of Foldes infamous "Malibu High" of which this movie is completely unrelated sequel.
Unlike most of the action movies made during the happy fascism of the Reagan era this movie definitely doesn't glorify "make-my-day" vigilantism, but is more in the spirit of harrowing 1970's rape-revenge movies like "Last House on the Left". But any message this movie might have about "digging two graves" when you go seeking revenge is lost in the jaw-droppingly incompetent narrative and film-making (my favorite scene is when the protagonist gets in an argument about violence with his philosophy professor and emphasizes his point by throwing his desk through a window).
Unlike in his previous films, Foldes has quite a cast on hand here. Besides Borgnine and Roundtree, Lynda Day George plays the protagonist's mother. Linnea Quigley also makes an appearance as one of several girls whose sole function seems to be to strip off and substantiate that the male characters are not actually gay. The lead is also interesting given that he is the son of Dick Van Patton from TV's "Eight is Enough". Recommended, but for all the wrong reasons.
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