21st Jul2014

‘The Last Horror Film’ Blu-ray Review (88 Films)

by Paul Metcalf

Stars: Joe Spinell, Caroline Munro, Judd Hamilton, Devin Goldenberg, David Winters, Susanne Benton, Glenn Jacobson, Mary Spinell, J’Len Winters, Sharon Hughes, Sean Casey | Written by David Winters, Judd Hamilton, Tom Klassen | Directed by David Winters


Every year we seem to look at the horror genre and have something to complain about.  Mostly it seems that the move towards PG-13 and its bigger audience weakens the impact the films have and lessens the actual horror factor.  I’d rather look to the past to fill in some holes in my horror knowledge and forget all those worries.  This is why I tend to review a lot of the classic horrors that are released, this week one being The Last Horror Film (aka Fanatic).

The Last Horror Film is the story of Vinny (Joe Spinell) a New York taxi driver with an obsession with actress Jana Bates (Caroline Munro).  Following her to the Cannes Film Festival he fanatically tries to contact her, wanting her to star in his horror film.  The closer he gets to her though the more people around her start to die, is Vinny killing off his competition for her attention?

The Last Horror Film is not only famous for the reunion of Joe Spinell and Caroline Munro after Maniac but it’s also known as the film created using guerrilla style film making during one of the biggest film festivals in the world.  If it was to be questioned how big the festival was during the filming you just have to look at the movies at Cannes at that time, the film really gives a taste of just how big an event it was.  Watching the film and listening to the commentary that points out just how they got their shots, either a series of stunts that were brave or a little stupid depending on your opinion.  I’d argue though that it’s the fans that got lucky as it does feel like a snapshot of the film industry at the time the shots were filmed.

When watching the movie one thing that is obvious is that the success of what we see on-screen is very much on Joe Spinell’s shoulders.  Creating a character in Vinny that comes across as obsessive, demented and dangerous there is still a tragic edge to the character where you pity him.  His endless quest to have his mother proud of him go a long way to highlighting his issues.  You don’t want to believe that Vinny is the murderer but if it’s not him then who? Spinell’s performance creates Vinny as a man who is at the bottom of the pile, he just wants to make a movie with the actress he admires, but he’s a pitiful character that doesn’t really fit into the glitz and glamour that Cannes Basques in.  He’s a loser, and in Cannes the rich and famous don’t have the time for people like him.

88 Films have done a good job releasing The Last Horror Film but the warning that you’ll see when  the film start highlight the fact that there is some issues with the print.  For the most part the quality is very good, but there are some scenes that are bad quality, to the level of VHS quality or even less.  To get the film into its uncut form though this does feel like a necessary evil, especially when these quality changes are around some of the goriest scenes.  The fact that we are warned ahead of times about these problems goes a long way to negate any issues for viewers of the film, though it would have been nice for the whole film to look high quality and you could question whether the film could have still done with not including these scenes to keep overall quality high.  That would be a matter of forming your own opinion on that one.

The Last Horror Film feels like a love letter to the memory of Joe Spinell, especially with the special features that feature interviews, Q&A sessions and even the short Maniac 2.  For people who’ve not seen The Last Horror Film before watching it will be a nice surprise, especially for the horror fanatics.  Well made, with an excellent performance by Joe Spinell some may say that the movie is all Joe.  I don’t think I’d argue against that, but we can’t ignore Caroline Munro performance as it adds to what makes The Last Horror Film an old school cult classic.

The Last Horror Film is available on Blu-ray now from 88 Films.

**** 4/5

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek

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