July 28th, 2008

FIGHT FOR YOUR LIFE (1977) ****

If you only know William Sanderson from his role as Larry on Newhart (“Hi, I’m Larry.  This is my brother Darryl.  This is my other brother Darryl.”), then prepare to be blown away by his incredible performance in this flick.  It’s a classic.  It plays like a racially charged version of Last House on the Left and as 70’s exploitation/revenge movies go, its one of the best. 

 

Sanderson plays a racist murderer who escapes from prison with a Latino and an Oriental and breaks into a middle class black family’s home and holds them hostage.  Sanderson says more racial slurs in one speech than Quentin Tarantino wrote in his whole career and sets about to tormenting his victims.  After the trio of hoods rapes the virginal daughter, the resourceful father (a preacher) turns the tables on his captors and gets the upper hand.  When the police arrive on the scene, he actually discourages the cops from breaking down the door just so he can give his tormentors their just desserts.

 

This flick is just straight up nasty, cruel and mean and if you have a strong stomach for this kind of thing, then Fight for Your Life will definitely be your kind of movie.  It’s akin to I Spit on Your Grave (praise I don’t throw around lightly) in terms of audience manipulation.  For over an hour or so, Sanderson and his gang verbally abuse, kill, rape, and humiliate their victims, but when the tables are turned, look out.  Guys get shot in the nuts, impaled on glass, and there’s a great bullet through the trachea scene too. 

 

Whereas I Spit on Your Grave exploited the notion of a woman avenging a brutal rape, Fight for Your Life indulges African American fantasies of getting revenge against The Man.  Throughout the course of the movie, the family members try to keep their chin up and oblige the depraved criminals.  When the daughter gets raped, all bets are off.  Like I Spit on Your Grave, the family is fully justified in their actions (So much so that the cops even give the preacher a gun!) and when Sanderson and his cronies get their eventual comeuppance, it’s a real crowd pleaser. 

 

But the film’s grisliest scene doesn’t even involve the family.  It’s when the Oriental convict happens along a ginger-headed little boy, a friend of the family; who learns what the criminals are up to.  The convict bashes the kid’s brains in with a stone and the twitching and convulsing that ensues rivals that of the sledgehammer scene in the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

 

Okay glancing over my review I’ve seen that I’ve compared this movie to Last House on the Left, I Spit on Your Grave AND The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.  Is it as good as those movies?  No, not quite; but anyone who calls themselves a fan of those films will positively want to check this flick out ASAP.

 

AKA:  Bloodbath at 1313 Fury Road.  AKA:  Getting Even.  AKA:  Held Hostage.  AKA:  Hostage.  AKA:  I Hate Your Guts.  AKA:  Staying Alive.  AKA:  The Hostage’s Bloody Revenge.