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Enemy Territory - CBS/Fox Home Video - VHS Print E-mail
User Rating: / 3
Written by Richard Taylor   
Monday, 06 July 2015


AKA: Territorio enemigo, Paholaisjengi, Territoire ennemi, Ellenséges terület, Manhattan Warriors, Terenwroga, Sovrazno ozemlje, Terror Night - Hochhaus in Angst.

Directed by: Peter Manoogian
Written by: Stuart Kaminsky, Bobby Liddell
Produced by: Cynthia De Paula, Tim Kincaid
Cinematography by: Ernest R. Dickerson
Editing by: Peter Teschner
Special Effects by: Matt Vogel
Music by: Richard Kosinski, Sam Winans
Cast: Gary Frank, Ray Parker Jr., Jan-Michael Vincent, Frances Foster, Tony Todd, Stacey Dash, Deon Richmond
Year: 1987
Country: USA
Language: English
Color: Color
Runtime: 1h 29min

Studio: Millennial
Distributor: CBS/Fox Home Video

This 1987 Grindhouse gem is a great find, practically obscure and not destined for a legit updated release at any time soon, but worth seeking out nonetheless. Garnering a cult following, it’s highly entertaining, racially offensive (possibly unintentional), it boasts a great cast, simple but effective plot, off the wall dialogue and the apartment building setting for the film makes it work. Enemy Territory deserves more recognition and frankly I'm surprised there hasn’t been an attempt to remake it.

The story line follows working slob Barry played by Gary Frank (numerous TV appearances on General Hospital, Magnum, P.I., Family, Murder She Wrote, Matlock and movies such as The Distinguished Gentleman) as an insurance salesman who has been having a dry spell lately. Frank’s unsympathetic boss sends him to immediately collect what he calls an easy insurance policy from an elderly lady in Lincoln Towers in the projects. Lincoln Towers is not the kind of place you visit late in the day so Frank’s boss, whilst looking like he's trying to help him, actually does more harm than good. Frank goes to the Towers, even though every character he meets there tells him he shouldn't be there. At night the building is ran by a sadistic gang calling themselves The Vampires.

Frank collects his signing fee from the retired schoolteacher, Elva Briggs (Frances Foster in a warm-hearted but feisty role), who quickly sends him on his way, where she says he shouldn't be around after dark in the building. An elderly security guard waits for Barry by the elevator, but things get serious when an earlier verbal exchange with a young member of the Vampire gang proves fatal and causes Barry to be a target for the crazed blood hungry gang. While trying to escape the gang, Barry catches the attention of Good Samaritan electrician Will (played by Ray Parker Jr., perfectly bouffant hair and all -- I was waiting for him to break out with The Ghostbusters theme song!). Will had been doing some under the covers work in the building on company time it seems. Will decides to help Barry and from there on in the pair make an unlikely duo. Together on this night, they will meet a cast of delightful tenants in the building who will help them elude The Vampires.

I have read reviews saying the film is Blaxploitation, and it does have a pile of stereotypes plastered all over it, but I think it rises above that sub-genre. It’s more about people helping each other in a desperate situation. Obviously all the tenants of the building are sick of being prey for The Vampires and they want it to stop. The script is effective but cheesy and laden with hilariously bad dialogue. The cast is what makes the movie, especially a little role by crazed army veteran Parker, played by Jan Michael Vincent of Airwolf fame. Parker is the turning point in the film where the tenants decide to fight back. The dialogue in this scene is particularly good between Parker, Barry and Will as they converse over each of their lives and past. The Candyman himself, Tony Todd, plays The Count, the leader of the gang and he is as over-the-top as you would expect, playing a wonderful villain role here. Then you have other characters, such as Stacy Dash playing Elva's firecracker of a daughter, Toni, who all come together to make an entertaining thriller.

Not to be taken seriously, Enemy Territory is a guilty pleasure. It features a delicious 80's hip-hop soundtrack by The Boogie Boys, the movie was produced by Charles Band’s Empire Pictures production company, features early cinematography by Ernest Dickerson and director Peter Manoogian has worked on movies such as The Slayer, Galaxy of Terror and directed some Full Moon Pictures such as Demonic Toys as well as the movie The Eliminators. Mangoogian is known for working with Charles Band in some shape or form.

Long compared to John Carpenter's Assault on Precinct 13, Enemy Territory shares the sub-genre of siege films with it, but is by no means directly similar. It is its own entity entirely. Genre film fans would definitely be doing themselves a favor by seeking this out.



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