The Annihilators (1985)
Directed by: Charles E. Sellier Jr.
Written by: Brian Russell
Starring: Andy Wood, Christopher Stone, Dennis Redfield, Gerrit Graham, Jim Antonio, Lawrence-Hilton Jacobs, Paul Koslo, Sid Conrad
THE ANNIHILATORS (1985)
Directed by Charles E. Sellier Jr.
A squad of soldiers who fought together in Vietnam are reunited when one of their comrades is brutally murdered whilst trying to protect his father’s business and the local neighbourhood. With gangs ruling the neighbourhood of their fallen friend Joe, the former soldiers decide to end the intimidation and extortion and get rid of the gangs for good.
Fists are flying and chumps are dying in action-packed crime drama from New World Pictures, THE ANNIHILATORS. Shot in Atlanta (yes, even the scenes depicting ‘Vietnam’), the film is everything an exploitation fan could want with The Howling and Cujo‘s Christopher Stone heading up a squad of former soldiers as Sergeant Bill.
When their friend Joe Nace (Dennis Redfield), who was left crippled after saving their asses in ‘Nam, is beaten to death after convincing his shop owner father and the fellow neighbourhood business owners that they should refuse to be extorted by the local gang run by Roy Boy Jagger (Paul Koslo), Bill (Stone), Ray (Gerrit Graham), Garrett (Lawrence-Hilton Jacobs) and Woody (Andy Wood) decide to fight for both revenge against his killer and to help stop the local gangs once and for all. Though explosives expert Ray has since become an accountant and Garrett become a husband and father, they’re quick to help a friend in need. Woody’s life hasn’t been as rosy though. Sleeping in an abandoned rail cart and relying on alcohol to get him through the day, he worries whether he’s up to task but quickly agrees to join his friends and comrades and promises not to let his habit get in the way of the task at hand.
Roy Boy and his goons are your typical set of thuggish bastards. Extorting protection money for shops and providing assistance to drug runs through the town, the gang are notorious for getting handy with their fists and weapons when things don’t go their way. Even innocent bystanders get caught up in the violence as we see a lady shopper in Joe’s father’s store stripped and stabbed to death after dealing a swift knee to the groin of her would-be rapist. The moment in which the blade enters her flesh was cut from an earlier release but has been restored in this uncut release from Arrow Video and is difficult to watch as her brute of an attacker gleefully slices her open vertically. Though there are many scenes of impalement throughout the movie, using a pencil, broom handle and shuriken ninja star, the scene involving the female shopper is probably the most graphic.
With such a difficult enemy to annihilate, Bill and the boys resort to various tactics to get the advantage which usually involves lots of gun fights and punch-em-ups. These impromptu battles head-on rarely work for the protagonists, even though they’re extremely fun to watch, and so the team have to resort to planning clever like in their Vietnam days in order to bring them down.
THE ANNIHILATORS, simply put, is an utter blast of a movie. The opening scenes in ‘Vietnam’ are cringe to watch but the scenes set in an 80’s American town are spot on for fans of the genre and provide plenty of action and convincing story to keep you glued to the screen, popcorn in hand. I mean, we even have Lawrence-Hilton Jacobs flying kicking a thug off a car bonnet! What’s not to love?!
The action in the movie balances adrenaline-pumping fisticuffs and fire-fights with just the right amount of ham and cheese to keep viewers on side. Even in its quieter moments, the story never slumps or stalls, and makes you feel like a big kid again as you can’t help but cheer the ‘Nam vets on as they tackle the neighbourhood bullies the best and most effective way they know how. Just imagine the fistfight between Roddy Piper and Keith David in THEY LIVE as a feature length movie but with bullets and less pro wrestling moves and BAM, you have THE ANNIHILATORS.
Arrow Video have lovingly given THE ANNIHILATORS the 2k treatment from the original 35mm interpostive with original lossless mono soundtrack and it looks fantastic. The disc also comes loaded with an interview with star Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs (Garrett), who talks about his work on the movie and how he was hired for it, as well as an interview with filmmaker David O’Malley who discusses the early career of the film’s director, Charles E. Sellier Jr.
THE ANNIHILATORS is one of those feel good, B-movie pleasures that you simply need to indulge in and celebrate. Absolutely kickass!