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January 19, 2011

Movie Review: The Last Horror Film (Tromasterpiece Collection, 1982)

I was pondering a bit following my recent viewing of David Winters, The Last Horror Film, starring the enigmatic, Joe Spinell(Maniac, The Godfather, Vigilante). What a truly fascinating guy Joe Spinell is. Spinell is the consummate character actor ; often seen in parts street-wise toughs, gangsters or here in The Last Horror Film, a psycho . Like his character Frank Zito in William Lustig’s classic he is yet another ,sad, loner, with a heart-warming affection towards his mother; this time mom’s alive . Troma has unleashed an uncut special edition in their Tromasterpeice line for Winter’s slasher, The Last Horror Film ( AKA Fanatic), that keeps the memory of everybody’s favorite creepy guy(Sorry Michael J. Pollard) Joe Spinell, alive.

Buy The Last Horror Film on DVD

Spinell plays Vinny Durand, super-fan of stunning actress, Jenna Bates (Caroline Munro, Slaughter High, Maniac). Durand’s fixation on Bates has gone to such ridiculous heights that he has now chosen following the actress all the way to the Cannes Film Festiival in France as being the sure route in making Bates star in his movie. She’s slightly apprehensive to say the least. The similarities between The Last Horror Film and Maniac, are there – they both star Joe Spinell as a psychotic killer and Caroline Munro. That’s where it ends though. While gory, The Last Horror Film is nowhere as visceral as Maniac; most films aren’t . What it does have that Maniac doesn’t, is a more broad outlet to Joe Spinell’s talents. It’s pretty much the Joe Spinell show. Given that much of the film has a documentary-style look we it almost act as a disturbing reality program with Spinell taking us on his journey. Fuck Jersey Shore!

The extra features on the Tromasterpiece collection DVD of The Last Horror Film consist of an audio commentary with Luke Walter, an interview with Maniac director and Blue Underground head honcho, William Lustig, the rarely seen short Mr. Robbie from Buddy Giovanazzo (Combat Shock)which unfortunately never became a feature , trailers tv spots and the a Lloyd Kaufman introduction. The audio commentary and interview/featurette ,My Best Maniac, featuring long-time friend and camera-man from The Last Horror Film, Luke Walter. Walter has no shortage of stories and seems to recall the majority of the shoot and what scenes he shot. Moderator, Evan Husney does a solid job of keeping a flow to the commentary. Both chat about the notable locations, including the significance of Cannes on the film world and how it was basically a “time capsule” for that era.

Previously released under the cut version Fanatic several years ago from Troma, The Last Horror Film is now completely uncut and a substantial improvement in all areas as compared to that release. The film materials are not perfect and Troma is very honest about this at the beginning of the film stating in making this release “some scenes had to be sourced from elements of inferior quality”. I expected the worst when I saw that disclosure, but really, for a patch-work it’s a fine release. Do we really want to see Joe Spinell’s memorable striptease act in perfect quality? I love me some Spinell, but I must pass.

The Last Horror Film is a very good film, just not the slasher classic Maniac is. It has some pacing issues and certainly lacks the punch of Lustig’s film. What it does have is a wonderful performance by Joe Spinell that’ll make you wish he was alive and collecting checks right and left like other genre faves, like Sid Haig for instance. With the strong extra features and the fact that Troma was able construct an uncut version of the film for release, The Last Horror Film is a treat to behold for slasher fanatics.


  1. The Undertaker is another example of Spinell in one of his best and most disturbing roles.

  2. I still need to see that. That was right before his passing.

  3. I would pay GOOD money for a Criterion quality version of the strip-tease scene. Spinell was truly one of a kind and a total genius. He's a huge favorite of mine and an inspiration. I dream of a world where him and Timothy Carey got to work together. A virtual black hole of awesome would have erupted from that combo.