Tuesday, July 31, 2007

DRIVE-IN DOUBLE FEATURE: SEARCH AND DESTROY / THE GLOVE

Two Seventies revenge thrillers share the bill in Dark Sky Films’ most recent DRIVE-IN DOUBLE FEATURE: SEARCH AND DESTROY / THE GLOVE (1979).

In SEARCH AND DESTROY, ten years after a jungle combat mission goes sour, a group of Vietnam veterans including Perry King (CLASS OF 1984) and Don Stroud (HELL’S ANGELS UNCHAINED), find themselves being hunted down and executed by the understandably disgruntled ARVN officer they left behind.

Shot in and around Niagara Falls, with George Kennedy (THE NAKED GUN) playing yet another cop, SEARCH & DESTROY is a moderately entertaining low-budget actioner, with some decent chase and fight sequences, ably directed by William Fruet (DEATH WEEKEND, SPASMS).

In THE GLOVE, former football star Rosey Grier (THE THING WITH TWO HEADS) plays an ex-con who dresses up in black riot gear, dons a lethal lead and steel glove, and sets out to brutally beat the hell out of a bunch of prison guards. Exploitation vet John Saxon (A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET) plays the down-on-his-luck bounty hunter who is out to bring him in.

Not as exploitative as it’s sold, devoting most of its screen time to dialogue and character development over the expected violence, THE GLOVE is nonetheless a fairly decent little flick. Saxon is particularly good here, giving his L.A. bounty hunter a lot of depth and providing a noir-esque voice-over narration. Grier is physically intimidating and, despite his limited thespian skills, still manages to make his killer sympathetic and his motives understandable. The cast includes a bunch of familiar B-movie faces, including Aldo Ray, Joanna Cassidy, Keenan Wynn and Joan Blondell, all competently put through their paces by director Ross Hagen, who has acted in more than a few B-movies himself. It also has a funky theme song that must be heard to be believed.

Dark Sky’s double-layer DVD presents both films in remarkably clean 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfers, and Dolby 2.0 Stereo sound. The disc is set up to play both features with vintage drive-in intermission programming (doesn’t that concession food look gross? Who looked at those ads and thought, "Yeah, I could go for that?") and some awesome exploitation trailers from the proper era (THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, EATEN ALIVE, THE LAST HUNTER, THE DEVIL’S RAIN and ONE-ARMED EXECUTIONER). While the default drive-in program is the preferred way to enjoy this fun double bill, both films can also be played individually, if you’re so inclined.

Overall, it’s a great evening’s worth of Carter-era drive-in thrills, nicely assembled by the folks over at Dark Sky. I preferred THE GLOVE to SEARCH AND DESTROY, but then, I’m a John Saxon fan (isn’t everyone?). Check it out.

BUY: Drive in Double Feature - Search and Destroy / The Glove