Saturday, February 2, 2013
The Last Horror Film (1982)
"I never seen a hooker run so fast" says Luke Walter, Joe Spinell's best friend in the interview featurette on the DVD of The Last Horror Film. The running prostitute has just seen Joe sitting on the toilet, in his robe, with hundreds of lit candles around him, showing his cock while demanding "Blow me!". I can imagine the shock, because Spinell was totally crazy when he made this oddity, and it's also one of his most fascinating and interesting performances outside Maniac.
I'm not sure why, but TLHF have never been as appreciated as Maniac. I think it's in the same league, but also in a very different one. Where Maniac is dark and gritty, TLHF is just far-out insane and packed with odd jokes, some amazing guerrilla-style filmmaking and Spinell being - it seems - drunk or high during many scenes. Something that doesn't take away what an amazing performance he gives, so edgy you can cut yourself on it. This is far from being traditional exploitation film and instead focuses on satirizing the exploitation cinema and how absurd that world is. It's set in a different universe where crappy z-horror movies is regarded as fine culture, which shows during the wonderfully funny scene where the Cannes jury watches Caroline Munro getting burned to death with a blow-torch and at the same time commenting her amazing performance, hoaw brilliant she and the movie-within-the-movie is. It's a daring movie, because it's one of many scenes that's way to smart for the audience that probably saw the movie later.
For you who haven't seen it, this is Joe Spinell playing a stalker, obsessed by a horror movie star played by Caroline Munro. He travels to
to, in secret, without her knowing it,
shoot a movie with her in the lead. Soon people around Munro starts to get
killed in gory ways and the only suspect is of course Spinell... Cannes
But TLHF is so much more. It's an orgy of colourful documentary footage from the film festival, often starring real life celebrities like Kris Kristofferson, Karen Black and Marcello Mastroianni as themselves - also without permission and tons and tons of bystanders acting as extras in the wacky adventures of Spinell's very special way of acting. Many scenes was shot directly after the real celebrities has left, and Spinell would enter the scene (for example the hotel lobby or cinema) to pretend to be a big star, getting all the photographers to go crazy over him. This is movie magic. Pure fucking movie magic. This and the experimental style makes it a unique and not entirely commercial experience. I'm pretty sure there was a lot of ad-libbing and non-scripted scenes shot in the moment. It's visible and it feels like that, but it also fits perfectly in this very original and slightly chaotic slasher-mystery-satire.
Joe Spinell chews the scenery as much as possible, but he's also very good. There's one scene when he breaks into Munro's bathroom and threatens her with a broken bottle and he's so real, so "in there" that it's kinda scary to watch. Spinell was a magnificent artist and actor, one of those few that completely committed himself to the part - and probably used other peoples fear of, his looks and style, without hesitation. An original man. With Spinell in the cast all other actors kinda disappears, but they're doing what they're suppose to do and at least doesn't sink the movie by abandoning the characters because of Spinell taking over.
I honestly thing The Last Horror Film is a brilliant film. An original piece of arty exploitation. There's never been done anything like it before and after. It has gore, nudity, satire, Joe Spinell and female underwear, Caroline Munro and disco scenes. That's what I demand from a good film. And so should you.