Combat Shock Reviews
He suffers flashbacks and hallucinations throughout the film, where he is being tortured in 'Nam and then his supposed recovery in a hospital after. He is cut off from the world and desperate for money. We then meet one of his friends, a drug addict who is in equal dire straits. At one point, the addict uses a coat hanger to open his vein and pour in the drug whilst he bleeds - a truly horrifying moment.
This is very strong stuff. It has no budget but that somehow suits the story - it's totally gritty and real, no gloss whatsoever. It's probably the bleakest, most depressing film I've ever seen and all I can say is, if you're having a bad day or work or a bad day in general, just see what happens to this guy!
I got the excellent Troma DVD release which features the full uncut Director's version - the only one really worth seeing.
I don't know if I'd exactly recommend this; it's so hard going that it sure ain't entertainment, but it does have an appeal and is worth watching. However, if you're not used to zero-budget horror, avoid at all costs.
It lives up to most of the hype, and would be recommended to most anyone who is a fan of low budget horror.
The production values are piss poor and could not be more fitting. Non actors, tone deaf mood synth and low, even for troma standard of cinematography all combine to immerse you into one mans constant nightmare existence.
I cannot recommend this film on any level of entertainment or conventional basis of merit. It's just an experience so devoted to its depression, it comes off as potent, even moving.
Still, for die hard celluloid cynics only.
Plot: The story is very simple. An ex prisoner of war tries to survive unemployment, hunger, drug addiction, extreme poverty, and a nagging wife. To make matters worse, our friend Frankie was exposed to the spraying of Agent Orange over Vietnam during the war. The outcome after his 2 year captivity as a P.O.W, is a constant screaming deformed baby.
PLOT SPOILER ALERT # 1:
Frankie is constantly nagged by his wife for being a victim of post Vietnam unemployment. As Frankie tries to find employment failing miserably, he wanders the streets avoiding the discomfort of his home. Our friend is starving and drinks sour milk out of desperation.
He later meets an addict friend in lack of a needle. He is trying to cut his veins open with rusty coat hanger to sprinkle the drugs into. As he continues to wander the slums, he meets a gang of thugs with bad hair, who beat him up and mug him.
I'm sure you can imagine how the film progresses, so there is no need to go into further detail.
Filmed on a budget lower than the film looks, it actually helps the narrative and mood. The photography looks clumsy and the editing cheap and rushed. The soundtrack is awful weird 80's synth that goes on and on through out the whole film, irritating the viewer. There are long shots of Frankie walking the streets doing nothing at all. A lot of the film is told in flashbacks and hallucinations as well. The downbeat low production value actually helps the films mood and looks.
Don't let this put you down because it is all quite nicely put together and delivers a punch. This is bleak depressing stuff, filmed in the outskirts of Staten Island. Strong stomachs are required, so you have been warned.
Not a film to recommend if you're not into the genre, but if you enjoy weird films as a sleazy anthropological discovery, you're in for a treat. Just imagine "Taxi Driver meets Eraserhead" on a budget cheaper than a roll of toilet paper.
I had this on a Norwegian VHS that trimmed the final anti climatic ending by 15 minutes. It is now available totally uncut as a "Directors Cut" DVD released by Troma.
PLOT SPOILER ALERT #2:
Okay ... I can't help myself ... the final 15 min : Frankie throws his screaming deformed infant in the oven and blows his brains out.
The reason i give this movie 50% is really because of the script! I know i may be killed for this but i would compare the story of this movies to something like the writings of william shakespeare! If this movie was remade whith good actors and a much better director this would come out a great masterpiece, something like Taxi Driver i mean!