18th Nov2015

‘The Executioner Part II’ Blu-ray Review (Vinegar Syndrome)

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Christopher Mitchum, Aldo Ray, Antoine John Mottet, Renee Harmon, Dan Bradley, Jim Dratfield, Sandra Sterling | Written by Renee Harmon | Directed by James Bryan

executioner-2-screen

For years I, and many others, believed that James Bryan’s The Executioner Part II was one of those “hilarious” movies – like Leonard Part 6 and Surf II – that posits that it is a sequel, only it’s a sequel to a non-existent movie! Turns out that is NOT the case here… Bryan’s film is in fact an in-name-only sequel to the 1970 George Peppard film The Executioner. How do I know this? Well it’s all thanks to the fascinating interview with James Bryan found on the new Blu-ray of the film from Vinegar Syndrome off-shoot Exploitation.TV – released as part of the Indiegogo campaign for the companies VOD service.

Hailed as one of the craziest, and most incomprehensible action movies EVER, The Executioner Part II is just that. I watched my Blu-ray twice just to make sure it wasn’t just me, that I hadn’t missed some vital piece of information, a throwaway line here or there, that would offer a solution to the puzzle that is this movies plot. I didn’t. Despite having a clear opening and end, the middle of The Executioner Part II is nothing more than a series of badly-staged scenes involving drug addicts, oddly behaved hookers and their vicious clientele, and the “tattoo man” – a figure of myth who is little more than a nasty gangster with a shit tattoo on his arm (and I do mean shit, it’s like one of the stick-on tattoos you used to get with bubblegum in the 80s). Oh and the oh-so-wooden Chris Mitchum, as a Detective on the trail of the titular vigilante, wandering about looking almost as puzzled as the audience!

The official synopsis reads thus (though take everything mentioned here with a pinch of salt): “Someone is killing off LA’s most vicious criminals and the police are powerless to do anything about it. As the commissioner (Aldo Ray) enlists the help of his top lieutenant, Roger (Chris Mitchum), to solve the case, Roger begins to suspect that the mysterious Executioner might be his old friend from Vietnam.” Which does nothing to describe the actual mind-bending content of producer Renee Harmon’s movie (Harmon was also responsible for the former Video Nasty Frozen Scream, which comes with both the Blu-ray and DVD versions of The Executioner Part II as an added bonus).

It’s hard to recommend Bryan’s film to anyone but masochistic film fans… Obviously inspired by the Robert Ginty starring The Exterminator movies, The Executioner Part II is the type of film that will stretch even the patience of even the most hardened bad-movie fan. The ineptitude on display is astounding. Nowhere moreso than in the Executioner’s use of grenades to kill his victims – it’s the same stock footage of an explosion used over and over and over. And as such we never actually get to see any of the titular characters victims suffer. And that’s to the detriment of the film… Despite the sleazy nature of the film there’s no gore, truly over the top violence or excessive nudity! For a down and dirty exploitation flick The Executioner Part II is actually rather tame, paling in comparison to other such exploitation flicks made in the same period.

In the end then, just who would enjoy The Executioner Part II? I did, if only for its sheer ridiculousness. However Vinegar Syndrome know their audience and I’ve no doubt this is very much in the wheelhouse of fans of this particular distributor. Which is probably why the limited edition Blu-ray is already in high demand amongst sleaze-fans. And for those that do get the Blu-ray, this is without a doubt the BEST you’ll ever see this movie – the picture quality is amazing given the low-budget nature and the age of the film, with film grain only rearing it’s ugly head in an excessive manner on a few occasions. Otherwise the image is crisp, colourful and relatively damage free. Which is an astounding achievement by the restorers at Vinegar Syndrome. One that is to be commended.

The Executioner Part II was available on Blu-ray as a perk of the Exploitation.TV Indiegogo campaign. For those that did not back it, you can buy the film on a DVD double-bill with Frozen Scream directly from Vinegar Syndrome.

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