Movies & TV / Columns

The Gratuitous B-Movie Column: Enemy Territory

March 13, 2020 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz
Enemy Territory

The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Issue #546: Enemy Territory

Hello, everyone, and welcome once again to the internets movie review column that has never been a big fan of briefcases, The Gratuitous B-Movie Column, and I am your host Bryan Kristopowitz. In this issue, issue number five hundred and forty-six, I take a look at the classic badass action thriller Enemy Territory, which received a limited theatrical run back in late May 1987 before hitting home video and then cable, which is how most people likely saw it. The first time I saw it was via pay-per-view.

Enemy Territory

EnemyTerritoryVHS

Enemy Territory, directed by Peter Manoogian, stars Gary Frank as Barry, a lame ass insurance salesman that has been going through a serious rough patch. He’s divorced, he hasn’t seen his kids in a while, and he hasn’t had a major sale in seemingly forever. Barry’s boss tells him that if he doesn’t start making big deals soon he will be fired. So Barry agrees to go the Lincoln Towers in inner city New York City to get old woman Elva Briggs (Frances Foster) to sign off on a huge insurance policy. The problem is Barry has to go right now, which, under normal circumstances, would be a bad idea. See, the Lincoln Towers are the main territory for the violent street gang the Vampires, and, as a rule, the Vampires “attack anyone who doesn’t belong” in the area after dark. Barry has to get Mrs. Briggs to sign off on the policy, though, so he has to go. And so Barry goes to the Lincoln Towers.

As expected, Barry’s trip to the Lincoln Towers is a shit show from the very beginning. Despite getting an escort from the building’s only security guard, an old man with a gun and a uniform, Barry is targeted by a young Vampires member. Barry manages to meet with Briggs and get her insurance policy signed, and almost makes it out of the building unscathed. Almost. While attempting to leave, Barry is confronted by the leader of the Vampires gang, The Count (a young and brilliantly unhinged Tony Todd), and a brief scuffle ensues. The security guard accidentally shoots the young Vampires member in the head, The Count stabs the security guard in the gut, and suddenly Barry is a marked man.

What the hell is Barry going to do? Who is going to help him get out of the building alive? It’s at this point that Will (Ray Parker, Jr.), a phone repair technician/Vietnam vet that’s hanging out with his girlfriend in the building, hears all of the commotion out in the hall and decides that Barry needs his help. So Will grabs the dead security guard’s gun and tries to lead Barry to safety. But where is safe? Will any of the other residents in the building agree to allow them in and call the police for help? That’s unlikely, as damn near everyone in the building is rightfully scared of the Vampires. Will eventually manages to get Mrs. Briggs to help out, but outside of letting them inside her apartment, what the hell is Mrs. Briggs going to do? How is she going to help them fight off The Count and the other Vampires? Will is going to have to come up with a plan.

The rest of Enemy Territory is Will moving Barry from floor to floor, room to room, trying to stay one step ahead of the Vampires, who have declared that the “ghost” (Barry) and the “blood traitor” (Will) and anyone that helps them needs to die. The Vampires go from floor to floor, apartment to apartment, looking for Barry and Will, terrorizing the building’s residents. Barry and Will eventually find Toni Briggs (Stacey Dash), Mrs. Briggs’s granddaughter, and Toni agrees to help them. She knows the building and can, maybe, lead them to safety.

Maybe.

There’s a real sense of the walls closing in on Barry and Will as the movie progresses, at least up until they get to the apartment of Parker, a super paranoid Vietnam Vet played by Jan-Michael Vincent. Before getting to Parker’s, the hallways Barry and Will try to sneak down seem to go on forever and lead nowhere. There’s a weird haziness to these sequences that make these hallways literal nightmares. And that makes sense since the movie’s cinematographer is Ernest Dickerson, a guy that worked with George A. Romero on Day of the Dead and the Tales from the Darkside TV show and would eventually direct the terrific horror flicks Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight and Bones and the underappreciated action flick Surviving the Game. The guy knew exactly what he was doing here. And director Manoogian, a veteran of Charles Band’s Empire Pictures and Full Moon companies knows how to keep things moving and always interesting, even when things are off the wall.

And Parker’s apartment is off the goddamn wall. Essentially, Parker has created a bunker within the building and surrounded himself with concrete and steel. No one is getting in and, presumably, if you manage to get inside, you’re not getting out. Parker is also armed to the teeth with machine guns, a weaponized motorized wheelchair, and God knows what else. Parker is the one guy the Vampires stay away from because he’s batshit nuts, at least up until Barry shows up. Even their fear of Parker doesn’t keep the Count and the Vampires from doing whatever they can to get Barry and Will.

And, man, the Vampires will do anything.

The last quarter or so of Enemy Territory is a little more conventional than the rest of the movie, but there’s some decent suspense and action. The ending is shockingly gory and very, very awesome. Tony Todd’s final scene will stick with you big time. The aftermath of the “guy falling down the elevator shaft” sequence is pretty gnarly, too.

I love Enemy Territory. I loved it the first time I saw it on pay-per-view, when I saw it again on cable (I don’t remember what channel it played on. I want to say it was The Movie Channel but I’m not sure), and when I rented it from a video store on Long Island. It’s a great thriller that’s nasty and fun and was made by people who clearly like making that kind of movie. Amazingly, the movie has never appeared on DVD, which is just baffling. You would think that with Tony Todd in the cast that Shout! Factory or Arrow Video would have put out a “definitive” Blu-ray of the movie by now. You’d also think that MGM, which apparently owns the home video rights, would have put the movie out on a bargain basement DVD by now, too, or would have made it available via some sort of DVD-on-demand service. Are there rights issues regarding the movie’s soundtrack or whatever that haven’t been resolved that MGM just doesn’t want to deal with? Are there issues related to the fact that the movie was released by Empire Pictures and the shit’s complicated? I have no idea, and I haven’t found anything online beyond a statement on the movie’s Wikipedia page that says MGM has no plans to release the movie on DVD. Whatever it is, it’s unfortunate, because Enemy Territory deserves a new home video release of some sort and deserves to be seen by a wider audience. It’s just a great, great movie.

The main cast is phenomenal. Gary Frank is the quintessential lame ass white guy as Barry. His recent life has kicked his ass, he’s in way over his head, and he’s terrified about what’s next because he doesn’t know what’s next. Is he going to die in this inner city apartment complex? Is he going to see his kid again? Is he going to get the people helping him killed? And if he finds himself face to face with the Count or any of the other Vampires, what the hell is he going to do? Watch the scene where Will leads Barry down the hallway right after the shit hits the fan. Barry is petrified. The situation he finds himself in is unfathomable to him. Look at how he clutches his briefcase. There’s no way he’s going to survive this night, at least on his own, and he knows that. You root for him because he’s an underdog in a terrible situation. You also root for him because he’s clueless but he’s also learning. Barry isn’t a racist but he is insensitive and he sort of figures that out as the movie progresses. Why didn’t Frank have a bigger career in the low budget movie world? He worked quite a bit in TV but his movie credits aren’t as extensive. Why didn’t he get those opportunities?

Ray Parker, Jr. is amazing as Will. He’s a nice guy and a total badass and he makes both of those aspects of Will’s character look natural. Enemy Territory is Parker’s first major role in a movie and, based on his imdb page, it looks like his only major role in a movie. That’s insane. After this movie, how did Parker not get more work in the low budget movie world (this movie shows he could do credible action roles), on television (how did he not get guest starring roles on TV shows like Miami Vice and shit like that? He would have kicked ass doing that kind of thing), or, hell, in the big budget mainstream movie world? He was the total package back then, and he was only going to get better with each part. It just makes no sense to me that this movie is his only major acting role. I mean, did he not enjoy acting? Did he want to focus on his music? What the hell, man?

Tony Todd is, as I said earlier, brilliantly unhinged as Vampires gang leader The Count. Practically every scene Todd is in he’s bigger than life, both in the way he spits out his dialogue and the way he carries himself physically. Todd is terrifying. I mean, who the hell is going to come up against this guy? Who would be dumb enough to try? And his final scene is something that will stick with you for a long time after the movie is over. Only an actor as good as Tony Todd could pull that scene off and not make it ridiculous. Just amazing.

Jan-Michael Vincent is unhinged but in a slightly different way as Parker, the super paranoid Vietnam vet that has managed to make his apartment a steel walled bunker. He’s dangerous and sort of a good guy, but you can’t really trust him, either, because he’s so batshit nuts. But he’s also kind of cool because he’s got a weaponized motorized wheelchair and carries a machine gun around like it’s no big deal. Be prepared to be freaked out by his explanations for having pets in his apartment. They’re not really pets. I would like to know why he doesn’t live out in the woods somewhere. It just seems odd that he would live in the middle of any city. It’s too bad we never got a Parker movie where that stuff could be explored.

Stacey Dash is terrific as Toni Briggs, a spunky teen girl that knows how to survive in the Lincoln Towers. She’s tough, but she’s also sensitive and she loves her grandmother. Her big scene happens towards the end, where we see her outrun a different street gang while trying to flag down the cops for help. Why didn’t she do more thriller type movies when she was younger? She did the classic Moving with Richard Pryor after this movie and she was great in that. Did she decide that she wanted to do comedy instead of action/thriller stuff?

And Frances Foster is great as Elva Briggs, the old woman with the big deal insurance policy. She’s a total badass, and that’s before we see her take a stand against the Vampires at the end of the movie. If you don’t find yourself cheering during her final scene you just don’t “get” this movie. The same goes for Deon Richmond as Chet, the little kid that knows a secret about the building, wears a stopwatch like a necklace for some reason, and will fuck you up with his baseball bat if he has to.

Be on the lookout for Kadeem Hardison as one of the Vampires. And check out the movie’s kickass, old school 1980’s hip hop soundtrack. If you’re a fan of that genre of music you’ll love what Enemy Territory has to offer.

As I said earlier, I love Enemy Territory. It’s a classic action thriller from the mid-to-late 1980’s that needs and deserves a larger audience. And the only way that’s going to happen is with a collector’s edition Blu-ray of some sort. It just boggles the kind how it doesn’t have one of those yet. Hopefully that Blu-ray happens one day soon. The B-movie loving world needs this movie.

Track down Enemy Territory and see it. See it, see it, goddamn see it.

So what do we have here?

Dead bodies: 10+

Explosions: None.

Nudity?: None.

Doobage: A montage of the streets of inner city New York City, the name of the movie is spray painted on a wall somewhere, a kid climbs up a makeshift ladder, drinking on the job because life sucks, a big meeting with the boss, multiple hoodlum kids, potential off screen radio stealing, potential sexual harassment, a shitty elevator, a woman using a refrigerator as a piggy bank of sorts, bullet to the head, gut stabbing, a slow walk, a knife, a street gang funeral, attempted repelling down the side of the building, window smashing, multiple instances of breaking and entering, glass breaking, radio breaking, shoes, more glass breaking, back stabbing, a meltdown, knife cleaning, multiple beatings, seriously disturbing rape talk, a big speech about fighting in Vietnam, arm biting, a shootout, more gut stabbing, a second street gang funeral, baseball bat to the gut, death by elevator shaft, goldfish bowl smashing, a very dead gang member, attempted drill to the head, a very tight squeeze, a drunk, attempted gang assault, asshole cops, money throwing, bullet to the leg, bullet to the chest, a mega bloody mouth, playground swing to the face, machine gun attack, and a ride in an ambulance.

Kim Richards? : Big time. Holy shit.

Gratuitous: New York City, bottle of Jack Daniels, Ray Parker, Jr., two kids that swear, an old security guard that isn’t taking shit from some fucking kid, a picture of Martin Luther King, Jr. on the wall, multiple locks on the door, Tony Todd, use of the word “ghost” to refer to a white guy, kids announcing they will use money given to them to fix a window to buy gummy worms instead, Stacey Dash, Jan-Michael Vincent, Jan-Michael Vincent riding around in a weaponized wheelchair, Jan-Michael Vincent telling a disturbing story about Vietnam, a little kid that wears a stopwatch as a necklace and carries around a baseball bat, Tony Todd deliberately slicing the top of his own hand, Kadeem Hardison, a machine gun attack, and a ride in an ambulance.

Best lines: “I’ve had a bad month. Shit, I’ve had a bad decade!,” “Oh, come on Rapchick, you know how the system works,” “Barry, I like you. I’m gonna do you a favor,” “Man, I ain’t scared of no sissy ass vampires. The shit you ain’t,” “Hey, don’t get caught in there after dark or it’s your blood,” “Don’t touch me, motherfucker!,” “What the hell are you doing here?,” “I sell insurance. I hope you buy it, too,” “I hope your grandmother has a long wait for the insurance,” “Let’s move, insurance man!,” “I don’t give a pig’s tits for your honor!,” “Bitch, open the door! At least give me my shoes!,” “Can you picture me shooting someone?,” “Show me your fangs!,” “Are you gonna rape us? What?,” “What the fuck you want?,” “Dine store Darwin,” “Don’t you brother me, boy,” “Where is the white ghost?,” “Let me tell ya something. I don’t care if he’s white, black, or fucking fudge ripple! Man’s in trouble I’m gonna help him,” “You drive a Volvo? No, my ex-wife got the Volvo,” “That’s some brilliant shit, man,” “My Cat! Where’s my fucking mangy cat?,” “You back off, squid lips!,” “Picture’s black. You sound white,” “Chester, go to your room!,” “Listen, mister, I don’t know where you been, but four hundred dollars can’t buy a black boy anymore,” “Here we go, straight to hell!,” “Now stay down you fucking freak! Let’s get the fuck out of here!,” “Take care of eachother, okay?,” “Motherfucker!,” “If you expect me to say you should go on without me you’ve seen too many movies,” “I’m gonna rip out your heart and suck your blood!,” “I am immortal!,” “Get ‘em! Get ‘em! Get those vampires!,” and “Don’t mess with my baby!”

Rating: 10.0/10.0

**

The Gratuitous B-Movie Column The Facebook Page!

Please check out and “like” The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Facebook page, which is here.

EnemyTerritoryBarryWill

The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Facebook page! Yeah!

**

Things to Watch Out For

JurassicThunderDVD

Jurassic Thunder: This appears to be some sort of mega low budget sci-fi action horror flick where the U.S. military creates weaponized dinosaurs to take out the bad guys or some shit like that. The trailer below is awesome, brilliant, and kind of hilarious, and this is exactly the kind of movie that we all need to check out. I haven’t seen it yet, I have no idea if it’s any good or not, but I don’t think that really matters, in the big scheme of things. I mean, it’s a movie about dinosaurs with machine guns attached to their heads. Why hasn’t that been done in the mega big budget movie world yet? Movies like Jurassic Thunder are why, in the end, B-movies will always rule. Always.

JohnHenryDVD

John Henry: This new low budget action flick seems to take inspiration from the old John Henry folk tale, with the great Terry Crews taking on the John Henry persona. The actual movie story appears to be about a badass ex-gang member named John Henry that has to protect his old neighborhood and his father, played by Ken Foree (yes, the Ken Foree) from a ruthless gang leader played by Chris “Ludacris” Bridges. I’m shocked that it’s taken this long for someone to make a movie like this. It looks pretty dang good, and I definitely want to check it out.

IAmFearDVD

I Am Fear: This new low budget horror flick comes to us from the fine folks at Shout! Factory/Scream Factory and its Shout! Studios movie making outfit. It’s apparently about a celebrity journalist that gets kidnapped by terrorists and is about to be beheaded when some sort of ancient evil is unleashed. Or something like that. The immortal Bill Moseley and William Forsythe are the big stars in it, although I don’t think they’re actually the stars. Scream Factory always puts out a great product, so you know that the presentation of the movie will be top notch. And check out that Blu-ray cover. Is that badass or what?

InseminoidBRD

Inseminoid: I have never seen this classic low budget British sci-fi horror flick about a spaceship crew that runs into an alien presence that gets one of them pregnant and then that pregnant crew member starts killing people. But the fine folks at Shout! Factory/Scream Factory are putting out a collector’s edition of the movie on Blu-ray, so it would seem that now is a good a time as any to finally check this movie out. It has a classic name, doesn’t it? And who of you out there have actually seen this? Is it any good? Does it deserve its reputation?

**

Next Issue: Leprechaun!

**

Check out my Widow’s Point set visit!

Read it here!

WidowsPointEye

**

Most Recent Interviews

Steve Latshaw
Rick Hurst
Douglas Burke
Jeff Farley
Fred “The Hammer” Williamson
Nico Sentner
Everett Ray Aponte
Max Martini
Tom Huckabee
Jason Kellerman
David Tarleton
Roxy Shih
Jesse V. Johnson
Tamas Nadas (2)
Jesse Thomas Cook
Adam Seybold
Liv Collins
Bryan C. Winn
Jeffrey Combs
Ezra Tsegaye
Alexander Nevsky(4)
Sebastian Wolf
Dana Gould
Janet Varney
Richard Brake
Steven Lambert
Rolfe Kanefsky
Robert Donavan
Lukas Hassel
Jessica Morris
Daniel Roebuck (2)
Clint Carney

**

Follow me on Twitter!

**

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.

Enemy Territory

Gary Frank– Barry
Ray Parker, Jr.– Will
Jan-Michael Vincent– Parker
Frances Foster– Elva Briggs
Tony Tod– The Count
Stacey Dash– Toni Briggs
Deon Richmond– Chet

(check out the rest of the cast here)

Directed by Peter Manoogian
Screenplay by Stuart Kaminsky and Bobby Liddell, based on a story by Stuart Kaminsky

Distributed by Empire Pictures, CBS/Fox Home Video, and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Rated R for graphic violence and language.
Runtime– 89 minutes

Buy it here