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Retribution (1987)

August 7th, 2019 by unkle lancifer · 5 Comments

I finally caught up with 1987’s RETRIBUTION after years of several folks urging me to check it out (thanks to Ghastly1 and Eric’s IAHTKY). Sadly, I was all set to give you guys a heads up that it was streaming for free on TubiTv but when I went back there recently to grab some screenshots, I found that it had up and disappeared without so much as saying goodbye! Drats and double drats! Oh well, I’m sure it will appear again soon on some streaming service or maybe you can track it down on its expensive, out of print DVD. It’s really worth your attention and I’m officially joining the chorus of those who believe it is a highly underrated, idiosyncratic gem that should have earned much more praise and notoriety by now. This is one colorful, eye-popping film that bursts with fluorescent hues and eighties flavored exuberance. It’s all around visually appealing, juxtaposing glowing neon candy colors right next to the inkiest of blacks. The movie is much more than a treat for the eyes though, your ears are bound to be equally satisfied as the score is by frequent CARPENTER cohort ALAN HOWARTH (HALLOWEEN 2 and 3, ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK, et al.) and it’s one pounding electronic doozey.

I wrongly assumed in my head that because RETRIBUTION is a card-carrying possession film that it would be super religious and take place in a bunch of dusty, boring old churches. Instead, it’s one of those wonderfully gritty L.A. movies with lots of punky new wave hookers leaning into cars. In fact, there’s exactly zero religion in this possession film and I find that to be a sweet relief. Instead, it’s more of a horror character study about a lonely oddball who very nearly finds fulfillment only to have it snatched away tragically (see THE ATTIC, FADE TO BLACK, WILLARD) and it’s even got a heart-warming love story between a rather mismatched pair that you can’t help routing for. Another selling point is that the action starts off on Halloween night and obviously the world can never have enough horror movies that take place on October 31st. The opening scene involving clusters of costumed monsters witnessing a tragic event had me pretty much sold at the get-go.

Fascinatingly fastidious DENNIS LIPSCOMB (EYES OF FIRE) stars as George Miller, a failed artist who decides to kill himself only to survive the fall and have his body go all FREAKY FRIDAY with a mobster who died at the same moment who happens to have a long list of enemies he’d like to eradicate. And eradicate them he does thanks to his newfound unexplained telekinetic powers that deliver sadistic set-piece takedowns that are as cathartic for the viewer as they are to him. LIPSCOMB can go a little overboard at times when he’s sniveling to his over-her-head psychiatrist (LESLIE WING) but it’s a highly memorable and fully earnest performance nonetheless. Equally compelling is the endearing SUZANNE SNYDER of RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD and KILLER KLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE fame as yet another underage prostitute with a heart of gold named Angel. This is one of those movies that I almost want to jump inside and permanently live in regardless of the horrible events it depicts. If you like quirky eighties horror and are looking for something truly unique, something that balances gore and characterization by delivering heaping double doses of both, don’t dilly-dally like I did, RETRIBUTION is a dish best served ASAP.

Tags: General Horror

5 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Ghastly1No Gravatar // Aug 8, 2019 at 11:47 am

    Very cool you kept me in mind. Retribution is a pretty good film which actually has atmosphere (I cannot emphasize how important that is and how lacking in it are modern films) as well as great special effects (sans cgi, which doesn’t enhance anything, it only detracts from any sense of realism).
    Also, I can’t help but believe this film was “the inspiration for” (read ripped off) Chris Moltisanti’s film “Cleaver” in The Sopranos.
    David Chase did work on Kolchak and wrote Grave of the Vampire and so does have some knowledge of horror, maybe he saw this and decided “that’s a great idea”. Makes one wonder…

  • 2 Ghastly1No Gravatar // Aug 8, 2019 at 11:59 am

    Ripped off by*

  • 3 unkle lanciferNo Gravatar // Aug 8, 2019 at 2:59 pm

    Can’t thank you enough for this recommendation! I only wish it was still on TubiTV so that I could have gathered some better images. I really like the look of this movie. There’s also something really depressing and tragic about it even though it’s visually very colorful. Love the troubled artist angle too. I’m thinking one of the reasons it didn’t get more attention back in the day was because the lead is of a mature age and it didn’t appeal to teens? I don’t know. I really dug it. Something about it also brought to my mind PSYCHO 2 in the way you route for the protagonist’s recovery but also yearn to see him defend himself. George’s relationship w/ Angel also reminded me of a more romantic version of Norman and Mary Loomis.

  • 4 El BorakNo Gravatar // Aug 11, 2019 at 11:03 am

    keep it coming with the recommendations. does hoyt axton explode in this? i swear to god i saw a movie where hoyt axton explodes. and yes it was him.

  • 5 unkle lanciferNo Gravatar // Aug 13, 2019 at 11:17 am

    El Borak

    Everybody blows up real good in RETRIBUTION. Even Hoyt!

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