April 22, 2012

Filthy Review - Thou Shalt Not Kill...Except

Thou Shalt Not Kill…Except (1985)

Review by Jude Felton

As a teen horror fan growing up in the 80s there was always movies that I kept seeing mention of, yet never got a chance to see for whatever reason. Josh Becker’s Thou Shall Not Kill…Except was one such movie. The main reason being is that is stars Evil Dead director Sam Raimi, plus is has one of the coolest film names ever. Thou Shalt Not Kill; boring. Thou Shalt Not Kill…Except; super cool.

Now, twenty-odd years later I finally get to see the damned thing, and yes it was worth the wait.
The plot follows the exploits of Sgt. Stryker, whom we first join up with as he fights the Vietcong in the Vietnam war. Whilst in the midst of battle he takes a couple of bullets to the leg and gets to come home. Living a listless life he lives alone out in the woods with just his pet dog and a couple of bottles of booze for company. His life is not destined to stay quiet though, as before long he is joined by some of the soldiers he served with. Then he learns that his on/off girlfriend has been taken hostage by a Manson-esque cult, led by Sam Raimi, who gives an insane performance.

So there you have it, it’s your typical boys-own guns and gore revenge mission flick, and what superb fun it is. Sure, it’s low budget, the acting is at times a little wobbly and in no way, shape or form can Michigan ever look like the jungles of Vietnam, but that’s not the point. This is a movie that oozes fun, even when it’s at its most ridiculous.

Thou Shalt Not Kill…Except is violent, of course it is, would you expect anything else? The blood flows, the kills are inventive and everything, including the kitchen sink, seems to be utilized as a weapon. But, whereas many modern horror/exploitation flicks seem to revel in the cruelty of their violence, this film doesn’t take that nasty route. Granted, there are some scenes of violence that fairly grim, but it never seems to be the sole purpose. We have as much fun with the marines shooting and drinking as we do when they are kicking some biker’s asses. Fun times are the order of the day here.

The ties with the Evil Dead do not start and finish with Sam Raimi either. Ted Raimi turns up as one of the cult members, Scott Spiegel co-wrote and produced the film and even Bruce Campbells feet turn up in one scene. You’ll have to watch the extras to work out that one, and director Josh Becker also worked on the Evil Dead. In actual fact, Thou Shalt Not Kill…Except is based on director Josh Becker’s earlier short movie Stryker’s War, in which Bruce Campbell plays the lead role of Stryker. With all that in mind you might get a rough idea of the feel of this movie; it’s a group of friends making a fun flick, and it shows.

With this release Synapse Films have really gone out of their way to deliver the goods. I mean this is a cracking release. Not only do you get the film on Blu-ray (it looks and sounds great) and DVD, you also get the aforementioned Stryker’s War short movie, Made in Michigan: The Making of Thou Shalt Not Kill…Except, a couple of commentaries, an interview with the ever entertaining Bruce Campbell. Hang on, I’m not done yet. There is also an alternate title sequence, a deleted scene and the theatrical trailer. You can also pop out the sleeve and reverse it, if you get bored. It really is a jam packed release and it comes highly recommended.

Not everything in life is worth the wait, but in the case of this movie, and this particular release, it definitely is.

Thou Shalt Not Kill...Except is released by Synapse Films on Blu-ray/DVD combo pack and is available now.

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