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The Gratuitous B-Movie Column: Death Wish 3

March 14, 2018 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz
Death Wish 3

The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Issue #453: Death Wish 3

The Death Wish Marathon: Week 3

Hello, everyone, and welcome once again to the internets movie review column that doesn’t have any old Korean war buddies, The Gratuitous B-Movie Column, and I am your host Bryan Kristopowitz. In this issue, issue number four hundred and fifty-three, the Death Wish Marathon continues with the insanely entertaining Death Wish 3, which hit movie screens in the late fall of 1985.

Death Wish 3

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Death Wish 3, directed by Michael Winner in his last collaboration with star Charles Bronson, has Bronson’s architect/vigilante Paul Kersey headed to New York City to visit Charlie (Francis Drake), an old Korean War buddy. Kersey hasn’t been to New York since the end of the first movie, when the authorities basically told Kersey to leave and never come back. Kersey isn’t afraid to be seen, though, as it’s been over a decade since he was last in the city and his “new name” is Paul Kimball. And, heck, most of the old guard, both in the police department and in city hall, are probably gone. A good chunk of them were old as fuck back in 1974; most of them are probably dead now. So going back to New York City shouldn’t be a big problem.

Yeah, shouldn’t be. But this is Paul Kersey we’re talking about here. Bad things tend to happen to those close to him, and as soon as Kersey arrives at Charlie’s apartment Kersey finds Charlie on the floor, bleeding profusely after being beaten severely by three local hoodlum scumbags. After telling Kersey to “take care of my things until I get back,” the cops show up and arrest Kersey, thinking he’s the one who beat Charlie up. We know it’s bullshit, of course, but then this is a Death Wish movie and the cops are always hopelessly incompetent (or they’re just assholes). So Kersey gets arrested and interrogated (beaten) by various detectives. It’s at this point that Kersey meets head inspector Richard Shriker (the immortal Ed Lauter), the lead cop in the area. Shriker is a brutal asshole who also happens to know who Kersey really is (the vigilante!). Shriker tries to make nice, in his own way, with Kersey, but Kersey wants nothing to do with Shriker or vigilante stories. So Shriker puts Kersey in the lock up with the other criminals the cops managed to pick up throughout the day. And it’s in here that Kersey meets Fraker (Gavan O’Herlihy), a notorious local gang leader. Kersey and Fraker lock eyes and you know that the shit will eventually be on between the two. Fraker tries to get some of his fellow criminals to smack around Kersey, but Kersey can handle himself in a hand-to-hand situation.

So then some stuff happens, Fraker is let out of the lock up, and then Kersey is let out so he can talk to Shriker. Shriker wants to use Kersey as sort of his own personal vigilante. If Kersey agrees to go into Fraker’s gang territory and take out some of Fraker’s gang members, Shriker will keep the cops and the media at bay. If Kersey doesn’t agree to Shriker’s deal, he’ll send Kersey to prison, basically for violating the agreement he had with the city at the end of the first movie. Kersey quickly agrees to the deal and heads back to Charley’s to sort of set up his own base camp.

When Kersey finally gets back to Charley’s (he has a few quick detours to deal with first, like his court appointed attorney Kathryn Davis, as played by Deborah Rafkin, chasing the purse snatcher the Giggler, as played by Kirk Taylor, and smacking gang member Hermosa, as played by Alex Winter, across the face with a lead pipe) he meets Bennett (Martin Balsam), Charley’s neighbor. Bennett seems to know who Kersey is, and he quickly becomes friends with Kersey and tells him about the gang situation in the neighborhood. Basically, Fraker’s gang controls the neighborhood and keeps the “regular people” terrified. The cops aren’t much help at all (they’re either too afraid to show up or they spend all of their time harassing the regular people). Bennett then tells Kersey that he can stay in Charley’s apartment for the rest of the month (the rent is paid up). So Kersey holes up in Charley’s apartment.

And then the Kersey vigilante operation begins. Kersey starts by wasting two gang members that try to steal Kersey’s used car. He then walks the streets, beating up random gang members who try to start shit with people. Kersey also tries to capture the Giggler, but the gang members is just too fast to catch on foot. Kersey decides to bring in his friend Wildey for a little help. Wildey, of course, is a gigantic badass handgun that absolutely destroys everything in its path, and Wildey sure as hell takes care of the Giggler (the poor bastard never knew what hit him).

While all of that is going on, Fraker is trying to figure out what to do next. Kersey gives the regular people hope, and if Fraker is regain his total control of the area he’s going to have to find a way to take out Kersey once and for all. But how should he go about it? And while all of that is going on, Kersey finds out that Davis, his lawyer, has a thing for him. How is that not going to end badly for everyone involved?

To say that Death Wish 3 is ridiculous is missing the point. I mean, the movie is ridiculous, no question, but out of the five Death Wish movies Bronson starred in, part 3 is the only one that you could call fun. There are some messed up, dark moments spread throughout (the rape of local woman Maria, played by Marina Sirtis, the opening old person beating, how Kersey’s relationship with Davis doesn’t end well at all, and pretty much every scene involving Fraker oozes with the kind of sleazy menace that will make your skin crawl), but most of the time the movie wants you to smile and enjoy the absurdity of the whole thing. Take a look at the scene where Kersey shoots the Giggler, in public, in full view of the public. Instead of the locals freaking out/running when Kersey breaks out the Wildey, they stand around and watch him waste the purse snatching scumbag and then cheer when Kersey takes his shot. Check out that old woman who is “glad” the Giggler is dead as he stole her pocketbook several weeks ago. I know that the neighborhood is a hellhole and the people need a protector and all that, but would they condone a guy like Kersey killing bad guys in public like it’s no big deal? In the real world I’d imagine people would be concerned about getting caught in the crossfire. But in the world of Death Wish 3? It’s a call to arms, man.

Then there’s Shriker. Would he really be able to get away with allowing a guy like Kersey to run around the neighborhood wasting people left and right? Wouldn’t his bosses want answers?

And look at what happens in the big siege finale, when Fraker’s gang decides to cause even more trouble than usual and Kersey breaks out Charley’s old Browning machine gun? Kersey kills like thirty gang members in a two minutes and blows up a car. And that’s just the start of the chaos. Kersey kills tons of bad guys, Shriker shows up to help out and kills some bad guys, Fraker kills some neighborhood people and some cops, and some of the regular people decide that they’ve had enough of Fraker’s bullshit and kill some of his henchmen, too. The bodies pile up everywhere and stuff blows up. It’s freaking insanity. Wouldn’t the authorities start a massive investigation into how a part of New York City turned into a full on war zone in a matter of minutes? I’m sure some of them watched it on TV, like the Kaprovs. When it’s all over, you get the sense that the why of the war zone riot isn’t something the authorities are going to look into all that much. Fraker’s gang is beaten into submission. That’s all that really matters.

Once again, the bad guys are just that, bad guys. They’re all awful, terrible people that you enjoy watching get wasted by Bronson’s Kersey. They probably have reasons for their anti-social behavior, but the movie isn’t concerned with exploring them. The bad guys in this movie, the gang members, are savages and animals and you want to see them die. I know that isn’t very “artistic,” but it’s a strategy that works well in this movie. If Fraker had a scene where he explained his life story, how many people would actually believe what he said? He’s a goddamn criminal scumbag. You can’t trust a thing he says.

Do real life cops hate the way cops are portrayed in Death Wish 3? From the clueless beat cops to the middle management leadership to Shriker himself, the cops in this movie aren’t exactly solid citizens. Shriker openly admits, to Kersey’s lawyer, that Kersey has no rights. In what way is that permissible or possible? Would people in the real world stand for that kind of thing? And would cops in general like working like that, denying people their rights? I doubt it. And some of the cops in the Death Wish movies like the idea of killing criminals without getting lawyers and judges involved. Why aren’t the cops just doing what Kersey does since they’re such big fans?

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Bronson plays Kersey a little differently this time. He’s more laid back and somber this time around. When he arrives in New York he’s alone on the bus. He has no friends, no family, he’s just a guy carrying his own luggage off the bus. When the movie ends, after all of the carnage he’s responsible for and with the friends he’s made (Rodriguez, as played by Joseph Gonzalez, Shriker, Bennett, the Kaprovs, and that black kid that keeps popping up in the middle of the action), Kersey leaves the city the same way he entered it, alone and carrying his own luggage.

I also noticed that Kersey, despite being good at being a vigilante, would much rather see everyone in Charley’s neighborhood leave than fight. Kersey asks Bennett multiple times if it’s “worth living like this,” constantly under siege? He knows what’s coming if and when he has to bring out the violence. He doesn’t want to see anyone get hurt. And look at Kersey’s face when Davis is killed in the “car accident.” It’s all happening again. The chaos and death and destruction just won’t stop, will it? Just how cursed is Paul Kersey?

I love Bronson in this movie, both his quiet scenes and his action scenes. And while his relationship with Deborah Raffin’s Kathryn Davis seems implausible (Kersey isn’t some rich dude here), Bronson makes it work by just letting it happen. There’s no point in questioning why the hell Davis is into a 64 year old man. She’s just into him. Leave it alone, man. Leave it alone.

Ed Lauter is hilariously sleazy as Inspector Shriker. He’s arrogant, he has no problem violating a suspect’s constitutional rights, and he doesn’t seem to care if the cops under his charge get killed in the streets. I think, deep down, Shriker might hate his job. Shriker also says “dude” a lot for some reason. Watching him run alongside Kersey in the middle of the war zone with the badass guitar riff on the soundtrack is a thing of cinematic beauty.

Martin Balsam does a decent job as Bennett, Charley’s neighbor and Kersey’s new friend. It’s hysterical when he sits next to Kersey when Kersey creates the shells for the Wildey. Why doesn’t Bennett have other shit going on? And why isn’t he helping Kersey create the shells? Bennett is a veteran, he’s been around guns, so why not jump right in? Yes, he does fuck up loading Charley’s other machine gun when he decides to unload on the gang members, but he was in a panic at that particular moment. Anyone could have fucked that up. And I know it’s wildly inappropriate, but I always laugh when the gang members beat Bennett up and “throw him” off the fire escape. It isn’t funny because the gang members are beating up an old man, but it is funny because that’s clearly a stuntman getting chucked to the ground.

Deborah Raffin is fabulous in this movie as defense attorney Kathryn Davis. Her big “people have to fight back and hard” speech comes out of nowhere but she makes it work, Her smile is also hypnotic, which makes her eventual demise that much sadder.

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Gavan O’Herlihy is absolutely disgusting as Fraker the gang leader. He’s such a piece of shit that you can’t wait to see him fucking die. You want to see him die slowly, perhaps beaten to a pulp, but getting blown up with a rocket launcher is appropriate as fuck. One of the best bad guy performances of the 1980’s.

Kirk Taylor does a great job as the Giggler, the purse snatcher that loves to laugh. And Alex Winter is disturbing as Hermosa the henchman. The way he goes after Maria makes me sick just thinking about it. Too bad he didn’t get blown up with a rocket, too.

The soundtrack, once again by Jimmy Page, kicks ass. Page also collaborates with composer Mike Moran on a theme that rocks. Why the hell isn’t this soundtrack readily available? Why isn’t the world rocking out to the theme that plays over the end credits?

Death Wish 3 is a masterpiece of the highest order. It’s fun, it’s action packed, and it’s insane as all hell. It’s a movie that you need to experience at least once in your life.

See Death Wish 3. See it, see it, goddamn see it! Death Wish 3! Yeah!

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So what do we have here?

Dead bodies: 75

Explosions: Multiple, large and small.

Nudity?: Yes. It’s not appealing.

Doobage:A solemn bus ride into the city, window breaking, elderly assault for no real reason, luggage, getting a cab, people listening to a horrendous beating in the next room over, a brutal police interrogation, roach stomping, suspect beating, being processed, a seriously broken toilet, guy gets his head run through the bars of the cell, attempted unprovoked jail cell assault, neck stabbing, crime ridden streets, multiple instances of purse snatching, lead pipe to the face, more purse snatchings, a car used as bait, rival gang killing, attempted mugging, face punching, apartment booby-traps, a little old lady who is done taking shit from scumbags, TV stealing, cocaine, off screen spring board to the face with teeth removal, rape, surveillance footage of an assault, bullet making, ice cream buying, a massive gunshot wound, some cat and mouse bullshit in an alley, Uzi attack, attempted knife attack, a guy gets thrown off the roof, big ass machine gun hooey, off screen sex, more face punching, murder, two exploding cars, exploding storefront, old person beating, throwing an old guy off a fire escape, a very low budget hospital, reinforcements, grocery stealing, more big ass machine gun hooey, multiple grenade attacks, exploding building, exploding car, multiple man-on-fire moments, guy gets shot through a metal trashcan, people watching a massive riot on TV, cop killing, exploding cop car, a chain clothesline, baseball bat to the face, knife through the forehead, zip gun hooey, double barrel shotgun hooey, push broom hooey, a sudden lack of ammo, rocket launcher attack, exploding apartment, and walking out of town alone.

Kim Richards?: None.

Gratuitous: Charles Bronson, Charles Bronson riding the bus alone, Charles Bronson carrying his own luggage, Alex Winter, Ed Lauter, Ed Lauter constantly using the word “dude,” Charles Bronson in a police holding cell and beating the shit out of people who come at him, Gavan O’Herlihy, Charles Bronson going to work for Ed Lauter, Deborah Raffin, Martin Balsam, bullshit about the Korean War, the nice old Jewish couple next door, Charles Bronson wielding a .38, a black kid who keeps showing up every so often, “Right on, man!,” Charles Bronson setting up various booby-traps simply because he can and who the hell is going to stop him?, people doing cocaine, Wildey, Charles Bronson buying ice cream for a kid, the neighborhood celebrating the death of a notorious criminal, Charles Bronson going out on a date with Deborah Raffin, dead bodies that are clearly dummies, off screen old lady throat cutting, Charles Bronson putting on his socks, whatever the hell a zip gun is, Charles Bronson using a gigantic Browning machine gun, Charles Bronson and Ed Lauter running together and fighting, a bulletproof best ruse that ends with the killer getting shot with a rocket, rocket launcher hooey, and Charles Bronson walking out of town alone,

Best lines: “Give me the money, homeboy! Give me the money now!,” “Stay awake while we’re killing this guy,” “Hey, Charlie. Jeeze, Charlie, what happened?,” “Who’s this dude?,” “It’s not Kimball. You’re Kersey. Paul Kersey,” “Roaches. I hate them,” “You always violate people’s Constitutional rights?,” “You fucker!,” “Talk about getting shitfaced,” “I want to move on that one in the corner,” “Tell you what I’m gonna do. I’m gonna kill a little old lady just for you. Catch it on the six o’clock news,” “You’re letting me loose?,” “Kimball, watch it. There’s a new breed on the streets,” “Well, aren’t you going to welcome me back?,” “Yo, bitch, come here! I want to eat you! I want to lick you all over!,” “Who killed Charlie?,” “Is it worth living here like this?,” “Jesus, he really moves. Tell me about him,” “Well, my friend Wildey is coming. He’ll help out,” “What’s that for? The new car? Bait,” “Nice man,” “Hey, what’s the problem? Why? With the car, what’s the problem?,” “Your guys aren’t pussies, are they, Stein?,” “Who is this man? We need him,” “Well, what do you think of the neighborhood?,” “Shit, man, I’m hurt,” “Would you like to have dinner? What?,” “I live in a basement. It’s a nice basement,” “Eli, give him the gun,” “What are you doing? Thinning the herd,” “What are those? Teeth,” “Who’s Wildey? You’ll see,” “What are you, a couple of perverts? Get the fuck out of here!,” “Raped her? They raped her?,” “Mrs. Rodriguez has expired,” “You load the shells yourself? Nothing’s too good for our friends,” “I think I’ll go down the street and get myself some ice cream. This is America, isn’t it?,” “They killed the Giggler, man,” “I’m glad he’s dead! He took my pocketbook three weeks ago!,” “Chicken’s good. I like chicken,” “Dammit, people have to fight back and hard! The whole thing’s out of balance. Some people would consider that an extreme position,” “Let’s talk,” “He isn’t finished. It isn’t finished. It’s like killing roaches, you have to kill them all otherwise what’s the point?,” “It’s not working! Kill the motherfucker!,” “He had to go someplace,” “All I’ve got is a zip gun,” “Well, we should get a few of them,” “I can’t see anything. Come here, dear, we can watch it on television,” “I owed you that one, dude!,” “And now I owe you,” and “Better get going. I’ll buy you a few minutes. Get outta here. They’ll be after you.”

Rating: 10.0/10.0

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Check out my review of the new Death Wish starring Bruce Willis!

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Death Wish remake review!

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Things to Watch Out For This Week

KickboxerRetaliation

Kickboxer: Retaliation: This is the sequel to the pretty damn good Kickboxer reboot Kickboxer: Vengeance, which came out in 2016 (check out my review of the movie here). Star Alain Moussi is back as Kurt Sloan, and Jean-Claude Van Damme is back as the fedora wearing Master Durand. Connor MacLeod hisself Christopher Lambert is apparently in it, too, as are Mike Tyson and the giant Hafbor Julius Bjornsson. The story involves Sloan being forced to fight in a Thailand prison for some reason. The movie did receive a small theatrical release (it played in New York City and in California) and has received some decent reviews. I know I want to check it out. Anyone out there see this in a movie theatre or, perhaps, on Video On Demand? Anyone at all?

JusticeLeague

Justice League: I missed this DC movie universe team-up when it was in movie theatres, which I’m annoyed by because I wanted to see it on a big screen. I don’t think it looked all that good, but I still wanted to experience its spectacle on a giant screen. The movie didn’t exactly set the box office on fire either at home or abroad, and I’m not sure Warner Bros will even continue with the world/story that Zack Snyder put together with the help of Joss Whedon. Will we see how this plays out, perhaps with the eventual appearance of Darkseid, or will DC just keep the parts that it thinks work now (like Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman) and reboot the rest, or will the whole thing get a full on reboot/reimagining of some sort? I guess we’ll find out eventually.

ChildrenoftheCornRunaway

Children of the Corn: Runaway: This is the latest low budget, direct-to-video Children of the Corn sequel, a movie that was apparently delayed for quite some time according to this article over at Dread Central. I have no idea if it’s any good or if it’s going to be any good, but then John Gulager directed (the guy who did the Feast movies), Joel Soisson wrote the script, and the immortal Clu Gulager is in it in some capacity. I think that list of people is reason enough to give the movie a look. And this latest sequel gives me another reason to eventually get to that full on Children of the Corn marathon that I’ve been thinking about doing for quite some time. I think it’s high time I experienced this whole franchise.

TheShapeofWater

The Shape of Water: I know I should be stoked that a horror fantasy movie won the Best Picture Oscar and that Guillermo del Toro won the Best Director Oscar, but after seeing The Shape of Water and becoming aware of the whole “del Toro is a plagiarist” thing, I’m not sure all of the adulation for the movie is deserved. There’s something fishy about the whole affair (ha). The Shape of Water is a good movie, no question, but is it really an original product? Take a look at the evidence and make your own judgement.

TheAmbulanceBR

The Ambulance: This Larry Cohen movie starring Eric Roberts, James Earl Jones, Megan Gallagher, Red Buttons, Janine Turner, and Eric Braeden is getting the full on Shout! Factory/Scream Factory treatment, which makes it automatically worth picking up. I saw this movie once on cable back in the early 1990’s and, unfortunately, don’t remember a goddamn thing about it. However, a Larry Cohen movie is always worth seeing so, again, this new home video release of The Ambulance is definitely worth getting. Cohen does a commentary track on it. That has to be worth listening to, doesn’t it?

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Ash vs. Evil Dead is back!

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Check out my reviews for the third season below!

Episode 1
Episode 2
Episode 3

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B-Movie News

DeathKiss

Did you hear about this new low budget action movie Death Kiss?: It’s a low budget action-revenge movie written and directed by Rene Perez, a guy who has been churning out low budget genre movies for several years now (check out the guy’s imdb page. The movie also stars Robert Kovacs Bronzi, a guy who looks so much like Charles Bronson that it’s scary. And since the movie is apparently using that fact as a selling point, Kovacs is apparently playing a badass vigilante that has to protect a woman and child from ruthless bad guys for some reason. The fine folks over at Dread Central have the trailer, and it looks pretty good. It almost looks like the old days, when the real Bronson was blasting bad guys left and right because he was goddamn big Chuck Bronson. Are we set to see more of that kind of thing with Kovacs as a kind of Bronson?

Man, it sure as heck looks like it.

Go ahead, check out the trailer below. This really could be awesome.

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Steven Seagal apparently has a new TV show: It’s something called General Commander and it has big Steve as an ex-black ops something or other who teams up with a rich guy and some young people to take on international crime. Or something like that. The great Byron Gibson is in it, so at least it has that going for it. And based on the trailer that’s been released it looks like Seagal is a little more engaged in this than with some of his recent projects. Just check out the hand-to-hand fights in the trailer. If it looks like Seagal is actually doing the fighting and not a stuntman, it could end up being decent. If it looks like it’s a stunt person throughout, then it’s a crapshoot as to whether or not it’s going to be any good. That’s how the direct-to-video career of Seagal has gone for the last, ha, decade plus.

I don’t know about this. I enjoyed the first season of Seagal’s previous TV show, True Justice, but the second season was a ridiculous slog. This new show almost sounds like a newer version of both seasons of True Justice. We’ll just have to wait and see it when it comes out. At the moment, General Commander has no network home or a release date. Will it end up on cable on something like the Reelz channel, or will it go streaming?

Check out the show’s trailer below. It shows some promise, doesn’t it? This isn’t just me hoping against hope that big Steve made a good show, is it?

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Who is the Douchebag of the Week? Go here and find out!

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Next Issue: The Death Wish Marathon continues with Death Wish 4: The Crackdown!

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Interviews

david j. moore
Jino Kang
Vladimir Kulich
Paul Mormando
Shahin Sean Solimon
Michael Matteo Rossi
Tyrone Magnus
Hector Barron
Jeffrey Orgill
Michael Baumgarten
R. Marcos Taylor
Don “The Dragon” Wilson
Paul Kyriazi
Eric Jacobus
Juju Chan
Luke LaFontaine
Marco Siedlemann
Sam Firstenberg
Amariah Olson
Alexander Nevsky
Mathias Hues
Kristanna Loken
Steve Mitchell
Albert Pyun
Brad Thornton
Mathieu Ratthe
Damien Power
Kelsey Carlisle
Mike Dwyer
Nicholas Bushman
Brahim Achabbakhe
Etcetera
Richard LeMay
Andrew David Barker
Cynthia Rothrock
Leslie Simpson
C. Courtney Joyner
Shahin Sean Solimon (2)
Eric Miller
Alexander Nevsky (2)
Christopher Lawrence Chapman
James Mark
Casper Van Dien
Chris Mark
James E. Wilson
Barry Hunt
Vincent J. Roth
Mathew Ziff
Brandon Tyler Russell

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Well, I think that’ll be about it for now. Don’t forget to sign up with disqus if you want to comment on this article and any other 411 article. You know you want to, so just go do it.

B-movies rule. Always remember that.

Death Wish 3

Charles Bronson– Paul Kersey
Deborah Raffin– Kathryn Davis
Ed Lauter– Richard Shriker
Martin Balsam– Bennett
Gavan O’Herlihy– Fraker
Kirk Taylor– The Giggler
Alex Winter– Hermosa
Joseph Gonzalez– Rodriguez
Francis Drake– Charley
Leo Kharibian– Eli Kaprov
Hana-Maria Pravda– Mrs. Kaprov
Marina Sirtis– Maria

Directed by Michael Winner
Screenplay by Don Jakoby (as Michael Edmonds) and based on characters created by Brian Garfield.

Distributed by Cannon Film Distributors, MGM/UA Home Video, and MGM Home Entertainment

Rated R for graphic violence, language, nudity, drug use, and a rape scene
Runtime– 92 minutes

Buy it here