Spoilers follow ...
- The Fanatic review by NP
Disillusioned New York Taxi Driver Vinny Durand (Joe Spinell) is obsessed with cult film actress Jana Bates (Caroline Munro). He tells his mother, with whom he shares an apartment - actually Spinell’s home), that he intends to go to the Cannes Film Festival, meet Bates and direct her in a film that will kick-start his career as an acclaimed film-maker. His mother (played by Spinell’s real matriarch Mary – the star of the film, in my view) isn’t convinced. In a warning uttered without punctuation, she says, “Stop thinking about those crazy ideas, you’ll only get yourself upset again, I made baked macaroni, you don’t eat right.”
Caroline Munro seems to be re-dubbed throughout, with an American accent. Visually, she’s as 1980s as it is possible to get, her natural beauty often smothered by make-up and hair colouring and styling. She features in my favourite scene – wrapped only in a towel, running hysterically, barefoot down the middle of a bustling night-time road.
This includes what appears to be real news footage, charting the assignation attempt on then President Ronald Reagan (himself an ex-film star) in an attempt by an obsessed fan to impress actress Jodie Foster.
‘The Last Horror Film’ is by turns dreadful and very funny (especially the last scene). Every few minutes, we are treated to tracking shots of beaches, movie premieres and parties, incessantly accompanied by tuneless 80’s ‘songs, with hoarse-voiced singers, guitars and Linn Drums (which help to ensure the running time seems a lot longer than 90 minutes) – against this backdrop, Durrand comes across as a splendidly drab failure, who might even be responsible for a series of gory murders that seem to follow Bates around …
Filmed, without permits, at and around the Cannes Film Festival, this is somehow saved from being ‘a bad film’ by the genuine warmth and heart that belies the bad acting (although Spinell has moments where he is genuinely unnerving) and zero budget. It goes some way to explore whether or not horror films inspire real life horrific events. Bates’ comeback is that people watch the news, which is more terrifying than any horror films she has ever seen. It’s difficult to argue with that.
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