Monday, February 27, 2012


"Look out there's danger! Nowhere to run! Seems like desperate measures but sometimes it's GOT to be done!" ~Ronnie James Dio

If you read this blog regularly or have ever found yourself in a room in which I am commandeering the airwaves, you already know that I adore William Lustig's sleazy 1980 masterpiece Maniac and especially Jay Chattaway's deceptively simple and uncannily disturbing soundtrack. What you may not know is that Mr. Lustig invited Chattaway back to work his creepy magic for the mind-numbingly entertaining 1983 film Vigilante (among others) and the results are predictably amazing. Vigilante is a gritty "poliziotteschi" homage set in a bygone era of the crime-ridden Big Apple starring a stylish cast of instantly recognizable misfits such as Fred "Black Caesar" Williamson, Joe "Fancy Schmansy" Spinell and Robert "Alligator" Forster who vaguely resembles a softer Charles Bronson and who's receding hairline provides scripted comic relief in the aforementioned man vs. nature reptile romp (spoiler alert: man loses). It's really no surprise that there was a thriving cottage industry of street justice revenge flicks back in the 70's and early 80's. After all, nationwide crime statistics had been steadily rising since the late 1960's and within a decade entire tracts of Manhattan and its surrounding boroughs had become seething arenas of stale piss and unbridled hostility, the subterranean transit system a foreboding symbol of lawless urban savagery. Fan faves such as Straw Dogs (1971), Ms. 45 (1981), Savage Streets (1984), Death Wish (1974) and Death Wish II (1984) struck a lucrative nerve precisely because people were genuinely fearful and righteously disgusted. Who wouldn't cheer a band of furrow-browed proletariats takin' back the streets to a score that sounds like the feeling you might get while coming down from a three day meth binge at Studio 54? And who wouldn't want to catch this unsung classic on rare 35mm?? Well, thank your lucky stars that the streets are safe for your candy ass these days and thank Dan Halsted of Portland's Grindhouse Film Festival for bringing this gem to the Hollywood Theater for one exclusive showing! If you heckle the screen ironically like an attention-seeking Mystery Science Theater reject while this movie is playing I swear I will personally stab you in the fucking neck. On that note, I humbly present your soundtrack to violent revenge.

January 28, 2012
4122 NE Sandy Blvd.
Portland, Oregon

If you think I'm bullshitting you with my crime stat hyperbole, consider the fact that Riot vocalist Rhett Forrester was murdered during a 1994 carjacking in Atlanta when he refused to surrender his wheels. Incidentally, this record came out the same year as Lustig's film and I'd love to turn Fred Williamson and company loose on the scumbag that pulled the trigger.

Certainly not the only tune to stir up controversy on this fucking fantastic record.

To this day, a song that instantly makes me feel like smashing things. I just threw my beer at the wall. I'll go clean that up while you listen to the next ditty...

I'm pretty sure this one is actually a fantasy bar fight song but I'd definitely call in sick to catch a flick called Shotgun Justice. And my favorite Razor tune, Violent Restitution, is really just about killing a backstabber and fucking his woman, which sadly disqualifies it for our purposes today.

I couldn't find Street Justice as it's own song on youtube so you get the entire Captain Howdy/Horror-Teria saga. See ya at the theater, punk.


Lucio H. said...

I saw VIGILANTE for the very first time the few days off from school when I had the chicken pox in the 9th grade. That weekend as the "Afternoon Movie" or whatever on Ch. 5 (I know Dread remembers Ch. 5 ... !), they played VIGILANTE, THE EXECUTIONER, TAXI DRIVER ... and KENNY & CO. The last one sort of broke the pattern, but I still enjoyed it. I suppose the "teaching bullies a lesson" thing falls into the "street justice" motif?

Dennis Dread said...

I've never seen The Executioner. Did you mean The Exterminator? Now THAT is an excellent vigilante film!