Blu-ray Review: The Last Horror Film (aka Fanatic)

Sometimes an actor takes a role that allows them to delve into the cinema and real life biography. Marlon Brando exposed so much in Last Tango in Paris. Birdman stripped Michael Keaton down to his career choices. You can’t imagine anyone else playing those roles because the actor brought so much to character that it seemed like they were playing themselves in an extreme situation. Such is what happens to Joe Spinell in The Last Horror Show (aka Fanatic). You might not have a clue about Spinell since he wasn’t Robert DeNiro or Al Pacino. But he supported them with his vital roles. He was Willi Cicci in The Godfather. He hired Robert DeNiro to be a cabbie in Taxi Driver. He was the loan shark that paid Sly in Rocky to break kneecaps. The Last Horror Show allows Spinell to created a distorted view of his life and career.

Vinny is a cabbie in New York City with a simple dream. He wants to go to Cannes and get his horror film made. He has a plane ticket and a script. All he needs to do is land Jana Bates (Caroline Munro) as his leading lady. She’s not in the mood to make a horror film for a disheveled guy with no track record. Vinny isn’t going to give up in his pursuit of Jenna. Nobody gets a movie made if they accept every “No.” He struggles to get by the various members of her entourage. How extreme will he go? Turns out a few of Jana’s people are getting killed. Could Vinny be a complete nutcase instead of just a film fanatic?

The film is amazing on so many levels. The actors roam the actual Cannes Festival in 1981 so it’s not faked on a backlot. This is how movies were pushed on the French Riviera. One of the themes is psychotic fans. There’s references to John Hinkley Jr. shooting President Reagan because of his attraction to Jodie Foster in Taxi Driver. This leads us back to Spinell’s work in Taxi Driver. An even bigger connection is that previously Spinell had written a script for Maniac which featured him stalking the luscious Munro. Although odds are that he didn’t have to stalk her to accept his real script. The film reflects so much of his cinema life that it elevates the material. The Last Horror Film is a fine part of Spinell’s legacy.

The video is 1.78:1 anamorphic. The high resolution allows you to appreciate the views of Cannes. There is a bit of grain since a lot of the real footage was shot on 16mm to steal shots around the festival. The audio is DTS-HD MA mono. The audio has a rough feel that works with the rough

New intro by Lloyd Kaufman (4:07) includes Lloyd going drag to hype the film.

Audio commentary is from Luke Walkter, a friend of Spinell. Luke worked with Joe on the film so he has stories to tell including how the director paid for the big effect in the hot tub scene. He also produced the New York footage.

Highlights from the 2015 Tromadance Film Festival (5:21) takes us to the fun in Brooklyn.

Mr. Robbie (8:04) is a short film by Buddy Giovinazzo (Combat Shock) starring Joe Spinell. He’s a kiddie host dealing with dark issues.

A full episode of Troma’s latest web-series Kabukiman’s Cocktail Corner starring Paul Booth (9:44) comes from a really creepy tattoo parlor in Hell’s Kitchen.

The return of one of Troma’s most beloved characters, Dolphin-Man
(4:48) is a sketch.

Trailer (1:15) sells the view of Cannes.

The Last Horror Film (aka Fanatic) is a masterpiece about the obsession to achieve cinematic success.

Troma presents The Last Horror Film (aka Fanatic). Directed by: David Winters. Screenplay by: Judd Hamilton, Tom Klassen & David Winters[. Starring: Caroline Munro, Joe Spinell. Judd Hamilton & Filomena Spagnuolo. Rated: R. Running Time: 87 minutes. Released: December 15, 2015.

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