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4K Ultra Review: Vigilante (1982)

Industrial repairman Eddie Marino (the great Robert Forster) has a real problem on his grease-stained hands. You see, his wife Vickie (Rutanya Alda) got slappy with a gang of denim-clad Warrior wanna-bes called The Headhunters, and they returned the favor by using her as a pin-cushion, and blasting the couple’s son Scott (Dante Joseph) to pieces with a double-barrel shotgun.

To make matters worse, The Headhunters are cleared of the murder charge thanks to some legal loopholes, and in a bizarre twist of fate, Eddie actually goes to jail for assaulting the judge. All is not lost however, as Eddie’s steel workin’ pals are a covert group of vigilantes lead by tough-ass mother fucker Nick (the legendary Fred “The Hammer” Williamson), and when he gets back on the streets Eddie and the boys are going to bring serious bodily harm to every mother fucker that’s done him wrong!

Coming from director William Lustig, Vigilante was his attempt at creating a more mainstream picture (murdered child and all) than 1980’s psycho masterpiece Maniac (who’s star Joe Spinell has a cameo as a crooked lawyer in this film)… and to that end he failed. What he did succeed in doing is presenting a Death Wish-style tale (though definitely grittier and darker) by way of the grindhouse, and it is pure awesome through and through!

Assembled are some real shitkickers, and you believe these folks actually mean business as they clean up the ultra-grimy streets of early ’80s New York City… streets that become a character unto themselves thanks to their neglect and vandalism… plus those slate-grey early winter skies add a great natural ambience that adds to the coldness of the production.

Adding to the whole affair is a fantastic Western-style score courtesy of composer Jay Chattaway that is all synths and electric guitar by way of Ennio Morricone. It’s a superb score for a hard hittin’ mother fucker of a motion picture!

As for bonus features, this Blu-ray release from Blue Underground and MVD Entertainment really hits the mark! Starting things off we get three audio commentaries; two archival chats about the film’s production with Lustig (one featuring co-producer Andrew Garroni, and the other with actors Forster, Williamson, and Frank Pesce), and a new chat with film historians Troy Howarth and Nathaniel Thompson about the film’s themes and place in the street justice genre.

Following that we get two new featurettes; one a retrospective on the film featuring writer Richard Vetere, actress Rutanya Alda, associate producer/first A.D./actor Randy Jurgensen (among others), and the other an interview with Chattaway about the film’s score.

Also included are: a large selection of trailers (foreign and domestic), a handful of TV spots, a radio spot, a promotional spot, and a duo of poster and still galleries.

If you want a blue-collar, street level, gritty as balls film with some dudes beating the ever-loving piss out of the criminal element then Vigilante is the action-packed exploitation banger for you!

 

 

 

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