Sunday, 12 February 2012
ENEMY TERRITORY (1987)
Directed by: Peter Manoogian
Screenplay: Stuart M. Kaminsky & Bobby Liddell
Starring: Gary Frank, Ray Parker Jr, Tony Todd, Stacey Dash & Jan-Michael Vincent
Empire pictures and Charles Band produced some wicked action, horror and sci-fi movies in the 80s (and 90s) and Enemy Territory is a quality example of their B-movie productions. Jumping on the 80s bandwagon of rampaging gangs (which The Warriors presumably kicked off) Enemy Territory sees insurance salesman Barry (Frank) venturing into the scary apartment complexes of the wrong side of town in order to get a signature on a policy that will guarantee him a big pay out. He’s desperate for the cash and despite his better judgement ventures into the most notorious complex: a complex “owned” by one of the toughest gangs in the city, The Vampires. With dark approaching and everybody telling him to get out of there fast, Barry gets the signature but not before pissing off a gang member and the rest of The Vampires turning up gunning for blood. Stuck on one of the upper floors and with a kindly telephone repairman (Ghostbusters hit tune maker, Ray Parker Jr) in tow, Barry attempts to escape the complex with his life as The Vampires hunt him down.
Cool concept, nice shot on location photography, a genuinely claustrophobic and scary setting, a crazy cameo from a wheelchair bound, machine gun wielding Jan-Michael Vincent, taught action and chase scenes and the always great Tony Todd towering over everybody as the ruthless leader of The Vampires, Enemy Territory is B-movie gold. It’s gives us a couple of cool characters, shoves them into a tense situation and plays out in quick, slick fashion as our heroes make their way through the grimy and graffiti laden building which is just as threatening as the gang chasing them. Gary Frank is suitably nervous and ineffectual, Ray Parker Jr (in one of his only acting roles) is likeable and makes for an effective action hero, Tony Todd over acts but manages to be menacing and Jan-Michael Vincent is, well, mad and shoots a load of gang members with his automatic weapon.
Nicely shot (presumably) on location, the movie has a cool grindhouse feel to it (they sure don’t make them like this anymore) and director Peter Manoogian (of other sweet B-movies Arena and Demonic Toys) keeps the action moving fast and the atmosphere tense. Thankfully the makers keep the film simple, not complicating matters with unnecessary subplots that slow the pace down. Quite simply, Enemy Territory is fun B-movie entertainment that uses its setting and characters well to create a tense and fun (albeit sometimes cheesy) thriller. Cool.