Joe Spinell is one of the most interesting characters to ever grace the big screen. He just has a personality that few before or since him have had. He’s larger than life but not in the traditional Hollywood, movie star way. He’s probably most remembered for 1980’s Maniac, but his best film may have come two years later with The Last Horror Film.
The Last Horror Film was directed by David Winters (Thrashin’) and pairs Spinell back up with his Maniac co-star and Bond girl Caroline Munro. This movie actually pairs quite nicely with Maniac because it sort of plays like a more light hearted version of Maniac, if that’s something you can imagine.
Spinell plays Vinny Durand, a New York City cabbie who has a bit of an obsession with the queen of horror films, Jana Bates (Munro). Being a cab driver is just something Vinny does to make some cash; his real passion is to make his own horror film starring Jana. He packs his bags to fly out to the Cannes Film Festival, despite his mother (played by Spinell’s real-life mother) thinking it’s a dumb idea. Vinny’s plan is to meet Jana in Cannes and convince her to star in his movie.
It doesn’t take Vinny long to locate Jana and he begins to follow her around filming her with his camera. It’s a pretty good idea. He’ll just record her without her knowing and then she won’t be able to say no. Things are going pretty fine at first but then people around Jana start dying. Is it Vinny or someone else?
I really love this movie. I think it’s a ton of fun and shows off a bit more range from Spinell than we typically see. It’s also a nice slasher/mystery with a fairly surprising ending. Not sure it all completely makes sense, but the film does enough job selling it so I’m willing to buy. And then of course there is the guerilla style filmmaking that went into this. The crew just went to Cannes and shot, permits be damned! So the movie is good. I’m a fan.
The downside is this release from Troma is very Troma-esque. This is only the second Blu-ray from Troma I have, the other being Tromeo & Juliet. The Tromeo & Juliet Blu-ray is a good one, but apparently all their other ones since leave a bit (or a lot) to be desired. I haven’t seen any of those, so I can’t commit on them, but if this release of The Last Horror Film is any indication, then yeah the Troma released Blu-rays are pretty bad.
The transfer just doesn’t look good. Like not at all. I would say it’s a little better than a VHS but worse than any mediocre DVD. Everything looks very dull. I expect a lot better on a Blu-ray. This should be crystal clear HD, but it’s not. I’d understand it if the master print was poor and this is the best we could get. Unfortunately I don’t think that’s the case. 88 Films previously released a region free Blu-ray and from what I understand it looks great. I haven’t seen that release, but that’s what I hear. I have to imagine it looks better than this Troma release and probably by a wide margin.
So yeah, this release is a bummer. The movie itself I would recommend to any horror fan. It’s awesome. This release is not one I’d suggest picking up, however. Maybe someday Troma will treat releases of their movies with the respect they deserve. Unfortunately that day doesn’t appear to be today.
The Last Horror Film is now available on Blu-ray from Troma.
*Please note the below rating reflects the Blu-ray release as a whole and not the movie.