Cut and Run (1985)

Cut and Run (1985)- * * *1\2

Directed by: Ruggero Deodato

Starring: Lisa Blount, Eriq La Salle, Willie Aames, Leonard Mann, Karen Black, John Steiner, Richard Bright, Michael Berryman, and Richard Lynch

Fran Hudson (Blount) is a local Miami TV reporter who never shies away from a story that is potentially dangerous. After some drug-fueled murders in the area, an informant, Fargas (La Salle) points Fran and her trusty cameraman Mark (Mann) in the direction of a mysterious man named Brian Horne (Lynch). Horne was a disgraced Army Colonel who ended up in the employment of the infamous Jim Jones. He was said to have died in the massacre at Guyana, but recent photos have surfaced featuring Horne. Fran and Mark want to go deep into the jungles of Venezuela where they believe he is hiding out in order to interview him. This coincides perfectly with the wishes of their station manager, Bob (Bright) as well as Karin (Black). Bob’s son Tommy (Aames) has been missing and thought to be in the same area. So Fran and Mark have their work “cut” out for them, as they must report on the drug killings, find and interview Brian Horne, and rescue Tommy - all the while dodging the many pitfalls of the jungle, not the least of which is the violent and frightening killer Quecho (Berryman). Can they do it?

Out of all the jungle movies released in the 80’s, Cut and Run has to rank as one of the best. While it sits comfortably with other items on video store shelves at the time such as Cocaine Wars (1985), Cut and Run has a lot more going for it. Namely the strong cast, and equally strong direction by Ruggero Deodato, who most people would associate with Cannibal Holocaust (1980) - but here at Comeuppance we associate him with Live Like a Cop, Die Like a Man (1976), Raiders of Atlantis (1983) and The Barbarians (1987). Though, truth be told, Cut and Run shares more of the themes of Cannibal Holocaust than any of the other movies we mentioned - jungles, white people entering them and facing hostile Indios, and gore a-plenty. So while lesser filmmakers were off making nondescript El Presidente movies or Jungle Slogs (as we call them), Deodato corraled an impressive cast and raised the bar on all films of this type. He set the standard for the 80’s video store-era jungle movie, and it has yet to be surpassed.

Lisa Blount makes an appealing lead, and she’s an actress we don’t often get a chance to talk about. Eriq La Salle - much like his co-stars John Steiner, Gabriele Tinti and even Karen Black - puts in a colorful and worthwhile, but brief, role. Fan favorite Michael Berryman is on board doing what he does best, as is fellow fan favorite Richard Lynch. Both Berryman and Lynch have loinclothed goons - presumably no jungle movie would be complete without them. It’s hard to say exactly what’s going on with Willie Aames (or is it Willie Bibleman; not really sure) what with his curly mullet and Mickey Mouse tanktop over a red sweatshirt, but like Blount, we don’t get to talk about Willie too much on this site, so we were happy to see him in a non-Charles in Charge role. But seeing as how the movie was directed with energy by Deodato, and has typically-excellent Claudio Simonetti music, you can’t really lose...or can you?

Actually, you CAN lose if you view the New World VHS. The Anchor Bay DVD is uncut so make sure that is the version you see/buy. The moments of well-executed gore are one of the main ingredients that set this movie apart from its jungle-based competitors. So make sure you see it all on the DVD. Corman and New World have a tendency to cut movies and make sure they don’t go “too far”, and Cut and Run was sadly a victim of that back in the day. But it’s been rectified now, so there’s nothing to fear. Except maybe Quecho.

Cut and Run is a solid movie, and the DVD is a solid addition to anyone’s collection.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty

Also check out a write-up from our buddy, The Video Vacuum!


She-Wolves Of The Wasteland (1988)

She-Wolves Of The Wasteland (1988)- * * *

AKA: Phoenix The Warrior

Directed by: Robert Hayes

Starring: Persis Khambatta, Kathleen Kinmont, Sheila Howard, and Peggy Sands

 In yet another post-apocalyptic future, men have been eradicated. The surviving women left alive on the planet battle for supremacy. The head baddie in this manless future is Reverend Mother (Howard), sort of a cross between The Emperor from the Star Wars movies and Plughead from the Circuitry Man movies. She has a way of impregnating people, but she doesn’t want any male children born. She’s kind of like the opposite of China. When Keela (Sands) becomes pregnant, she goes on the run. A baddie-ess named Cobalt (Khambatta) faithfully executes the orders of the Reverend Mother. Thankfully, Keela meets up with a warrior chick (also called a “Sandtrapper”) named Phoenix (Kinmont) so they can both battle all the goons that are after them. Along the way, they find the last man alive, not surprisingly named Guy (Emery), and they face many trials and tribulations as they fight to stay alive. What will happen?

It’s not Warriors of the Wasteland, it’s She-Wolves of the Wasteland, so, you know, let’s keep that in mind. (Though, to be fair, this did come out on VHS as Phoenix The Warrior). For an American post-apocalyptic slog, this is modestly entertaining, and the pace isn’t that bad. It’s not terribly different from others of its kind, but the main twist in the formula, if you want to call it that, is the 98% female cast on display. If nothing else, you can always gawk at the eye candy. There’s certainly no shame in that - heck, what else would you be gawking at if not for that?

Many of the post-apocalyptic mainstays are here: riding around a desert setting in dune buggies, characters with torn/bizarre outfits, wacky makeup/hair, narration in the opening that sets up why there was an apocalypse, but never comes back to explain anything else, and of course, some shooting and blow-ups. By definition this time around, all the fights are cat-fights, though that description may be demeaning to Kinmont as the noble heroine. She doesn’t need a man around, much less Lorenzo Lamas. Persis Khambatta as the baddie is tough too, however - she even has an Andrew Scott-style necklace of ears. Women love necklaces and earrings so this really saves time. Khambatta is also listed as an associate producer, and she does seem intensely into her role as Cobalt. We applaud her professionalism in the face of low-budget silliness.

There are some organized prison fights to the death (THIS close to Punchfighting but not quite, mainly because swords and other weapons are used instead of fists, and we don’t see anybody clutching the cash in their hands), and of course where would we be in life if there wasn’t a Final Warehouse Fight? Interestingly enough, in the future, bizarrely deformed mutants will use TV Guides as religious articles and remembrances of TV shows are the new religion. Ideas like that help propel the movie along. And it is comforting to know that in the future, after the apocalypse, hair crimpers will still be widely available.

God bless you, AIP, you’ve managed to wring some last droplets out of the post-apocalyptic genre. We knew we could count on you.

Comeuppance Review by: Brett