- Ghosts of Empire Prairie (2013) Review

Title: The Last Horror Film

Also known as:
Fanatic (Alternative title)
Fanatical Extreme (US video title)

Year: 1982

Genre: Horror / Sleaze / Comedy

Language: English

Runtime: 87 min

Director: David Winters

Writer: David Winters, Judd Hamilton & Tom Klassen


A cab driver takes his obsession with a famous horror actress too far when he decides to go to the Cannes Film Festival to make a movie with her in the leading role. But he's not there for a meeting, just to make his dream come true. People are killed off while he starts shooting his movie guerillea style with her unsuspectingly in the leading role. Just like he always hoped for.

Our thoughts:
William Lustig's "Maniac" with Joe Spinell playing the title figure (hint: the maniac) is a notorious 80s horror movie, remembered for its sleaziness, wild Tom Savini gore and following the killer rather than a survivor girl. "The Last Horror Film" isn't a sequel to the movie, but you have to admit that there's a lot of similarities between the two, and not just sharing Joe Spinell in the lead. "The Last Horror Film" isn't quite as sleazy or shocking though, and comes off more as a pitch-black sleazy comedy, which is rather refreshing after having revisited "Maniac" a few too many times. Though you should be sure that you have the title straight - don't confuse this with "The Last Horror Movie" from 2003. But I wouldn't blame you if you do, since it seems even Njutafilms went with the wrong title for their release. Other than confusing the title, I am really happy that Njutafilms are putting out some great Troma titles such as "The Last Horror Film", "Poultrygeist" and "Bloodsucking Freaks".

While driving customers around in New York, a cab driver is dreaming of one day making it big time in the movie business. He, Vinny Durand, wants to win an Oscar and have the internationally successful horror actress Jana Bates to star (and finally get the Oscar he believes she deserves). Vinny's going the professional route of making a movie with her, instead he goes to the Cannes Film Festival to stalk her and force her to make a movie with him. In the midst of all the glamour and partying, he starts filming her without her permission (much like the filmmakers of this actual movie shot in Cannes without permission). At the same time as this obsessive stalker is shooting his movie, people associated with the star are being killed off in quite horrific manner.

You notice what makes "The Last Horror Film" unique early on, in one of the many scenes where Vinny is dreaming about meeting his more successful self. These scenes are rather humorous and break up the dark, sleazy style you went into it expecting. Don't be scared that it will be a horror comedy in the modern sense, though. This is a sleazy, violent slasher movie in every way, but it comes with a dark sense of humor that I personally felt helped a ton to make it stand out.

When it comes to the slasher scenes, it's all with ill intent. There are a few fairly gory scenes that have been restored and put back in by Troma, one which gives us a quite excellent flood of blood and gore towards the camera. The movie doesn't offer that many big gore scenes or that much nudity, but it's plenty enough for me to not complain.

I'm fascinated by the movie for a few reasons. One being that they shot it during the Cannes Film Festival without permission yet there wasn't a moment in it where you could tell that was the case. And they made great use of the setting, having several scenes taking place at movie screenings and among groups of people. It's just nice to have it set somewhere so specific and different than your usual New York streets or cabin, or whatever. The other reason it fascinated me was because it was as entertaining as it was, since I expected a by-the-numbers, forgettable slasher. With its brief humorour traits and Joe Spinell nailing the bizarre blend well, it just became a well-rounded cult horror.

"The Last Horror Film" is a must see for the fans of sleazy slashers of the 70s and 80s. It's not the sleaziest or the goriest of them all, but it's cut from the same cloth as the 2 year older "Maniac" and should please the same fans. If you can appreciate the odd touch of black comedy added here, then you'll have even more fun with it than you'd expect. I can imagine it could distract some people as well, but for me it worked great. It's a dark, twisted and morbidly entertaining slasher movie from a long-gone era, what's not to love? Fine, I might have enjoyed this more than I should have, but I'm totally okay with that.

Positive things:
- Joe Spinell shows again that he's a great creep.
- A few great gore shots.
- The dark humor was appreciated.
- Guerilla styled filmmaking without being too obvious about it.

Negative things:
- Has some cheesy moments.
- The lighter moments might distract some people.
- Not quite as remarkable as "Maniac", in case that's a requirement for some.

Gore: 3/5
Nudity: 2/5
Story: 2.5/5
Effects: 2.5/5
Comedy: 2/5

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