Reviewed by Morgan Elektra
Starring Caroline Munro, Joe Spinell
Directed by David Winters
Distributed by Troma Entertainment
The Last Horror Film (also known as Fanatic, a perhaps more apropos title) is the story of horror fan Vinny Durand, an NYC taxi driver. Durand is a huge fan of scream queen Jana Bates (the beautiful Caroline Munro) and fantasizes about being a renowned filmmaker. Believing that all he needs to make it big is Jana in the starring role of his film, Durand heads to Cannes for the famous festival in hopes of attaching Bates to his project. However, once he arrives, he stumbles through one attempt after another to make headway with her agent, producer, and director. As Vinny becomes more and more desperate, the people who stand in his way begin to disappear, clearing his path to the delectable Ms. Bates.
While the premise of the film is simple enough, even taking into account the twist ending, and the look and sound of the movie is drenched in a sort of glam 80’s explosion, there is much to like about The Last Horror Film. Durand, whom most horror fans will recognize as Maniac’s Joe Spinell, oozes a sort of awkward sweetness coupled with an intensity that’s deeply unsettling as he careens further off the path of sanity. He’s the kind of guy you might see somewhere and feel a little sorry for at first, but the longer you spent in his presence, the more uneasy you’d become until you found yourself slowly edging away from him with a too big smile pasted rigidly on to your face.
Spinell’s performance is really the lynchpin of the whole film. Munro is beautiful and does what she does well, but most of the screen time is devoted to Durand. A lesser man than Spinell might not have been able to carry off a character balanced so precisely on the knife edge between fan and psycho with such believability for so much of the film. But I can’t think of a single frame where he wasn’t completely selling the role. For casual fans this nostalgia laden re-release of a 1982 film might be a pass despite how well it holds up (aside from the music and styling). But the real hardcore horror heads won’t mind the dodgy sound and print quality due to some of the restoration coming from less than stellar source material.
Troma’s re-release has decent special features, too. Aside from trailers for both the film’s titles, an interview with the director of Maniac, and a still gallery, you get both an audio commentary and an interview with Spinell’s best friend, Luke Walter. Walter is a card, and his stories about the making of The Last Horror Film are rambling and amusing, but he hits on a lot of the same notes in each so only the most diehard of fans will want to sit through both of them. The real gem of the pack is an interesting little short film starring Spinell called “Mr. Robbie AKA Maniac 2”. It clocks in at only a few minutes, but is a great little short. Troma fans even get a slew of Troma trailers like Poultrygeist and The Toxic Avenger to warm the cockles of their hearts…
The Last Horror Film is an entertaining flick that most horror fans will enjoy whether it be for the nostalgia, Caroline Munro’s feathered two-tone hair, or Spinell’s cringe-worthy (in a good way) performance; and Troma has done a fine job with this package. It’s definitely a worthy addition to your horror collections.
4 out of 5
4 1/2 out of 5
Discuss The Last Horror Film in the Dread Central forums!