Some exploitation films hold an unexplainable spot in the rabid filmgoers heart, defying any logical analysis. They may suck eggs from wet dog's mouths, have shitty plots, and all the technical skill of a college kid with a camcorder, but there is just SOMETHING about them that registers. While the films appearing in Dark Sky's new Double Feature threat don't follow this pattern, sporting surprisingly inventive plots and awe-inspiring action sequences, they are definitely love 'em or hate 'em pictures -- and many fans of Eurosleaze embrace them with youthful abandon. There is much to love about this unique pairing. Two of the more under appreciated efforts in action exploitation and crime violence, these pot-boilers embrace their exploitation heritage. This doesn't negatively effect the stories. In fact, the camp dialogue, comic book colors, gritty action, and sprawling settings add to the overall sense of escapism . . . which is what such movies are all about.

The first picture is a grimy fest of guts and guns that successfully merges elements from the action and slasher genres into a unique and mean spirited vision. Search and Destroy is a revenge drama that focuses on disloyalty and vengeance as members of an elite combat team unit are stalked and murdered by the fellow soldier that they left behind during a mission. Ex-GIs Perry King and Don Stroud find themselves struggling for their very lives against this embittered GI, who will go to any lengths to teach his fellow brothers-in-arms the bloody price of betrayal, and the high cost of freedom. A terse, action packed, suspenseful little thriller following in the tradition of The Last Hunter, this picture gives off an aura of explosive action and desperation, embodying the tension that made such survival films as Southern Comfort effective.

A riotous combination of sadism, outrage, and sweating, bleeding fun, Search and Destroy is a flesh-and- muscle fest devoted to the fine art of spilled blood and outrageous violence. A battle of betrayal and guilt, this simplistic if effective plot races from one explosive set-piece to another, leading to a powerful if unsurprising finale. Exploitation is the name of the game here, including copious amounts of skin and sin, blood squibs and ass beatings. Marketed somewhat misleadingly as a horror film in some markets, one can see why general audiences might see in the film's themes more than just a suggestion of horror. A particularly dark mood permeates the action, although the violence is accompanied by unconscious 'camp' humor. Ignoring many of the troubles of conscience and taboos that more serious crime thrillers focus on, this flick is low on brains but packed with grit. An excellent pulp fest!

* * *

Distinguishing itself with bold interpretations of political, cultural, and personal corruption when most crime thrillers were dragging aesthetic and moralistic ass in banal, anti-intellectual fantasies of fixed moral concepts that resulted in boring, nonsensical cinema, truly adventurous US and European filmmakers were exploring disturbing and righteous levels of moral ambiguity. The Glove is a wonderfully exploitative example of what was a new move towards exploring violence and amorality.

"Hate And Revenge Go Together Like Hand In Glove," reads the promotional material for this seriously ballsy film, and captures perfectly the male-orientated violent fantasy of the plot. A depressed, bitter bounty hunter (John Saxon), low on money, love, and self-respect, tries his luck at capturing a vengeful and very dangerous ex-con. This criminal has vowed to wreak havoc on the corrupt prison guards that tortured him when he was inside, wielding the same weapon that they used against him -- a riot glove made of steel and lead! What results is a bloody, bad ass opera of rage, redemption, and amorality, as a surprisingly complex script (for this sort of film, anyways) makes us question and change our loyalties as bounty hunter and dark avenger reach their final confrontation.

Exchanging the diluted surface action and gutless thematic 'safety' of typical police fare for exploitative violence and an emphasis on subjective justice, The Glove is quick to depict the squalor of urban living -- physical and emotional environments seeped in alienation. At its best, this film questions the conservative assertion that the world is divided into only two camps: the 'good guys' and 'the bad guys.' This childish conceit, reinforced by governments and censor groups, was only beginning to be openly challenged by the arts in the seventies, and such hard-boiled hybrids as this were partially responsible for shattering this harmful illusion. Similar in scope and depth to the bleeding-knuckle crime tragedies of Lenzi and Casterelli, this picture very rarely lags in pace, and mirrors its blood and balls action with mentalities and characters just as grim and subversive. Dark Sky Films, after releasing the espionage heavy hitters Assassination in Rome and Espionage in Tangiers, have rescued from undeserved obscurity one of the hidden diamonds of the crime/thriller genre with this gem full of righteous ass whippings and anti-heroism, featuring one of the best characters in practically all of revenge filmdom -- the glove, baby, the glove!

The quality of both these films is good if not excellent. Both Search and Destroy and The Glove are featured in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. Both titles betray slight grain and occasional soft imagery, yet, for the most part, are surprisingly detailed, sporting bold colors. Audio for both is featured in 2.0 Mono Dolby Digital, and, besides some minor interference, sound remarkably cleaned up. Extras consist of a handful of fun concession stand ads and exploitation trailers that further enhance the Drive-In feeling that this series so vividly captures.

Review by William Simmons

Released by Dark Sky
Region 1 - NTSC
Not Rated
Extras :
see main review