Movies From the Black Lagoon: The Last Hunter - 1980, Unrated

Movies From the Black Lagoon
The Last Hunter - 1980, Unrated

When it comes to drive-on fare nobody can crank them out like Italy. They began churning out a product aimed at American shores in the 1960s with Westerns, Gladiator flicks, and atmospheric horror films. Come the 70s they were a force to be reckoned with as they diversified into gory horror shows and crime epics, which offered plum roles to American talent like John Saxon, Lee Van Cleef, Jack Palance and a host of others. They even jumped on the mini bandwagon by producing a slate of apocalyptic adventure stories in the wake of the success of "The Road Warrior". They also got into war movies, set in Vietnam, after the box office returns went sky high for films like "Apocalypse Now" and "The Deer Hunter".
These films are aimed to cash in on that trend and still work, but as a cheap jack action effort that sports plenty of cheese ball dialog and graphic set pieces from the same FX artists who also toiled away in the "spaghetti horror" genre.
This one begins with a pair of soldiers, Steve and Henry, enjoying some down time in Saigon where Henry tries to keep an eye on Steve, who is basically one step away from a total freak out. Henry proves unable to restrain his buddy who flips out and shoots a fellow soldier before turning the gun on himself. Henry barely manages to escape the joint before it blows up but he takes advantage of the lack of evidence to portray his fallen comrade as a hero who tried to evacuate the building.
Henry is all to happy to accept another mission which, of course, involves going in country and meeting up with a small squad to perform an assassination. Okay it's the same plot as Coppola's movie though the target here is a female DJ who has been encouraging soldiers to give up the fight and go back home to their girlfriends. This potentially interesting mission gets side tracked until the final reel as Henry and his crew (which includes a dopey female journalist and a guide they sensitively refer to as Hu Flung Dung) have the darnedest time making any headway on their journey. They wander into enemy villages, engage in several firefights, and accidentally set off more traps than Wiley E. Coyote.
The high point is when they stumble upon an outpost set up in some caves. Here they meet the crazy Major Cash, not played by Robert Duvall, who doesn't dig surfing but likes to send his boys through enemy fire to pick coconuts for him.
When the caves get invaded good old Henry saves his own skin and gets back on track for his mission after a goofy flashback sequence wherein he and Steve cavort with Steve's girlfriend and everyone loses their script as they refer to Henry as Harry.
Eventually Henry finds his DJ target who turns out to be...wait for it, the girl from the flashback. Killing her poses no problem for our morally challenged hero who then calls in an air strike and stands perfectly still as he, and the radio tower, are napalmed to kingdom come.
Okay this one doesn't make much narrative sense but the fight scenes are well staged, even if they are entirely lifted from Coppola's epic. Henry makes for a cold-hearted killer of men but also a bit of a doofus as he totally loses it when confronted with rats and one very small snake. You still get the fire fight on the boat sequence that Coppola staged so well in the original as well as some state of the art gore effects and plenty of groan inducing lines.
Best Line: "At night we do the most unspeakable things with our ticks and lice."

Tom Doty occasionally emerges from the Lagoon to check his e-mail. If you'd like to get a message to him, write to: dotyfox@pennswoods.net.