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Retribution - VHS - Medusa Pictures Print E-mail
User Rating: / 2
Written by Jay Creepy   
Thursday, 19 April 2012

Retribution UK VHS Cover Art from Medusa Pictures on Severed Cinema
Buy Retribution on VHS from on Severed Cinema

AKA: Diabólico terror absoluto, Die Rückkehr des Unbegreiflichen, Kötülügün gücü, Kara za grzechy, La pesadilla maldita, Les forces du mal, Oneira horis oikto, Retribution - l'ultimo

Directed by: Guy Magar
Written by: Guy Magar, Lee Wasserman
Produced by: Chris Caputo, Brian Christopher
Cinematography by: Gary Thieltges
Editing by: Guy Magar, Alan L Shefland
Special Effects by: John Eggett
Music by: Alan Howarth
Cast: Dennis Lipscomb, Leslie Wing, Suzanne Snyder, Hoyt Axton
Year: 1987
Country: USA
Language: English
Color: Color
Runtime: 1 h 47 mins

Distributor: Medusa Pictures

WARNING: We watch these films so you can be warned beforehand!

I watched "Retribution" again on VHS since I realised I had watched it back in the eighties and couldn’t remember a thing about it.  It has been released uncut on a bare bones German DVD by E-M-S since and is available at a decent price via Amazon.

Why the warning?  Well, I like horror films with an eighties TV feel, I really do -- when they are done well.  I usually like to be balanced in my reviews but with this late 80’s time capsule I will struggle.

We’re in California and classic “Booo Booo” electronic sounds play as a cop car zooms down busy streets full of Halloween revellers.  The title blasts up in a ball of fire.  This is intercut with extras in "Monster Club" style masks told by the director to stare at the camera.  The scene of the crime is actually George Miller (Dennis Lipscomb) a middle aged man with glasses and an ugly jumper, who is poised to jump from a hotel roof.  He removes his specs from his sweaty face and jumps.  Firemen, cops and onlookers all scream in slow-mo.  He’s laid on the road all bloody.

We cut to a green swirly mist with a disfigured guy screaming all blue faced and glowing as paramedics fight to revive George.

The next day George is laid on his hospital bed shaking and dreaming about a well dressed man being shot in a back alley which is all green mist and swirling.  The dreams progress to become more violent over time and he discusses them with a female doctor (Leslie Wing).  He refuses to describe the details of the dreams, choosing instead to explain why he tried to kill himself.  He’s a failed painter who hasn’t sold anything for five years and also a depressive.  He makes good progress though and is soon released.  The only thing is he has a walking stick and a limp.

He goes to see his friend Angel who is a colourful haired hooker working in the stereotypical bad side of town.  Leather clad bikers, hustlers, hookers and thugs, they’re all on display like an old black and white fifties warning to teen girls to stay home and meet the right kind of boy.  Except this is the eighties so they could have all starred in "Vamp!"

Back at the apartment George is painting late night when suddenly his paint brush bleeds onto the canvas.  He understandably freaks out, takes tablets, then gets some sleep.  Soon though he’s dressed in a black suit and goes out on the town to a bar.  Asking for a drink, the owner, Sally tells him only one other person ever ordered that drink.  They chat and off they go for some rambling sex talk at her home (he isn’t Issac Hayes, trust me).  Though he persists, she won’t tell him about the other guy who used to drink that certain drink.

Moments later the kitchen window explodes as does the fridge.  George is stood there with glowing "Salem’s Lot" eyes, laughing whilst her kitchen basically turns upside down.  “Santa Maria!  Mother of God!  Help me!” he says and points at her.  “Not you.” she cries and then tears her stomach apart with a kitchen knife.

The next day George confides in his doctor about dreams regarding a bar and a woman -- the same woman who is all over the newspapers.  She believes it’s all part of his guilt trip.  Afterwards he gets on a bus and is guided to a young boy called Vito Jr. in a part of town he has never been.  Vito’s mother calls him an “asshole” and threatens him with the police.

Is he schizophrenic?  Or is he possessed?  His next target is Johnny who owns a slaughterhouse.  Johnny ends up in the skin of a slaughtered pig and under a saw as George does his glowing eyes “mother of God” part again.

Back to his doctor crying again!  My horror soul mate pointed out how Dennis Lipscomb's crying sounds just like Paul Bearer, the Undertakers manager in WWF/WWE wrestling.  After a quick rewind and listen we fell about, laughing for a while.  Dennis is seriously over-the-top in some scenes and simply cannot be taken seriously when he's like this.  That is a fact!

At a cemetery he meets Vito Jr. and his mother again and finds out that the father, Vito Minelli who was born on the same date as George, died the exact same moment George hit the ground after being tortured to death.  So he is possessed and it’s a revenge flick to!

Enter Lieutenant Ashley (played by Hoyt Axton the gadget loving dad in "Gremlins") who personally hounds the doctor and hunts George.

On the old Medusa home video cover there is a quote from The Guardian saying: “Clever high tech special effects!”  Now I want to dig out the whole review to see how out of context that is because did the writer really mean this film?  Endless green eyes, blue faces, superimposed photographs to symbolise George’s next target (I’m not kidding), green mist and a bit of blood.  Speaking of the effects, the film really loves colors.  It’s like watching the celluloid version of a spilled paint pot over eighties neon signs!  Bright blues, greens and reds!  The music doesn’t help this bad drug-trip either -- it’s like someone listened to the "Electric Dreams" soundtrack and rushed their own version on a Fisher Price “My First Synth” Kit.

I suppose the cheese saves the film a bit.  Some moments had us both curling our toes into our feet in embarrassment and bugging our eyes in disbelief.  The worst culprits were George’s homecoming party and the scenes when he and Angel get stoned in an art gallery.  I recommend the film just to see those moments.

One more thing about the bad side of "Retribution" is that everyone seems to over act or under act, there simply is no in-between.  Dennis cries and shakes and laughs a lot, the doctor is bland as are her doctor support cast members.  Angel doesn’t really do much as a character and Hoyt Axton is the same person who entered a Chinatown junkshop to buy a Mogwai.

If I’m fair since the director worked his ass off writing it and editing it as well, the last ten minutes or so does lift up when the doctor confronts George and Vito Minelli together in a violent scene.  To be fair, the VHS cover gives that scene away a lot.

This review is from the VHS large box so I’m not sure if the aforementioned DVD release has any extra scenes.  I gather that the extras are quite vanilla though.  The VHS (UK release) does have some memory awakening trailers from the likes of "976 Evil" and "Cameron’s Closet."

Retribution UK VHS Screenshot from Medusa Pictures on Severed Cinema

Retribution UK VHS Screenshot from Medusa Pictures on Severed Cinema

Retribution UK VHS Screenshot from Medusa Pictures on Severed Cinema

Retribution UK VHS Screenshot from Medusa Pictures on Severed Cinema

Retribution UK VHS Screenshot from Medusa Pictures on Severed Cinema

Retribution UK VHS Screenshot from Medusa Pictures on Severed Cinema

Retribution UK VHS Screenshot from Medusa Pictures on Severed Cinema

Retribution UK VHS Screenshot from Medusa Pictures on Severed Cinema

Retribution UK VHS Screenshot from Medusa Pictures on Severed Cinema

Retribution UK VHS Screenshot from Medusa Pictures on Severed Cinema

Retribution UK VHS Screenshot from Medusa Pictures on Severed Cinema

Retribution UK VHS Screenshot from Medusa Pictures on Severed Cinema

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