The Last Horror Film (1982) Bonkers Joe Spinell vehicle filmed at Cannes.

Theme Song: Aside from opening up with a Depeche Mode song (“Photographic”), there is a ton of original music in the movie written by Jeff Koz and Jesse Frederick.

“You’re Just A Dreamer”

“Straight Shooter”

“Perfect Stranger”

“Gone Too Far”

“Satisfied”

“Highwire”

All the songs have a Supertramp-ish, Billy Joel-ish vibe and sound great. The reason you know the entire modern day VHS fetish movement is filled with posers is because soundtracks like this remain unreleased while piles of garbage soundtracks get the 180 gram vinyl treatment just because they have some synthesizers on them. It’s utter nonsense and they’re the worst people on earth who do not care for one second about actual films.

Interesting Dated References: Cannes being a cool place to go.

Best Line: The majority of Joe Spinell’s (Maniac) internal monologue is done via voiceover and is entertaining.

Social Context: Overly ambitious (almost to a fault) and totally bonkers, The Last Horror Film is ripe with lofty aspirations only the ‘80s and a bunch of cocaine could produce. A well-written article found over at Cool Ass Cinema details how The Last Horror Film was filmed in 1981 during the 34th Cannes Film Festival as a way to occupy time while the filmmakers were there trying to drum up production money to film Starcrash II, a sequel to Stracrash (1978), which they didn’t even legally have the rights to produce. Often overlooked in favor of other Spinell performances, The Last Horror Film definitely deserves more respect.

Summary: Spinell plays a delusional filmmaker who thinks he can convince actress Jana Bates (Caroline Munro, Starcrash, Maniac, The Spy Who Loved Me) to be in his movie. As we watch him slowly unravel, he follows her to Cannes where he begins filming her as a mysterious killer offs her many male business partners.

Spinell plays the role with a little more depth than Maniac, which is welcomed, and he manages to inject quite a bit of humor.

There are several delusional dance/dream sequences, which also add humor without being totally sarcastic or ironic. Do you remember that? When humor was more than just shitty post-ironic references and sarcastic interludes?

So eventually it’s implied Spinell has been killing Jana’s male counterparts, and he chases her to a remote villa on the countryside to film the conclusion to his movie. During a bit of a plot stumble during the third act, it’s revealed the whole thing was a setup by Bret Bates, Jana’s ex-husband, who sought to eliminate her many male suitors and frame Spinell for the whole thing. Just when Bret is about to have his final revenge, Spinell cuts his head off with a chainsaw.

A bit overambitious with the plot twist, but it doesn’t really fucking matter because The Last Horror Movie delivers on all other accounts. Incredible filming locations (I’d be curious to know if they got permits or were just running around guerilla-style), loads of original music, absurd performances with sincere delivery, plus some gore and boobs as well as gorey boobs.

Worth Mentioning:
– Spinell’s mother Filomena Spagnuolo (credited here as Mary Spinell) plays his mother in the film, including a scene at the end of the film where they smoke weed and watch his movie-within-a-movie.

– Writer Judd Hamilton (who is also an actor and singer) was married to Caroline Munro at the time. Caroline previously worked with Spinell on Maniac, and both she and Hamilton worked with Spinell on Starcrash.

– The movie posters seen throughout the Cannes Festival footage are great, including this awesome one for Stab, which was eventually released as Still of the Night, and this other one for Thief, listed under its original title, Violent Streets, which premiered at the festival.

Here are some additional posters for what look to be porn movies.

Poster and Box Art: The Media Home Entertainment release features a nicely airbrushed cover that misses the mark from a composition standpoint.

It’s a tightly-cropped version of a larger poster that itself wasn’t that great. You can’t even tell the edge of the clapboard is supposed to be a razor about to chop off the woman’s head.

Availability: Despite having nothing to do with the original production, Troma has really put a lot of effort into getting this movie out on DVD/Blu-ray. That means you get a lot of extra features pertaining to the movie, as well as other shitty Troma-related crap with shitty menus.

Leave a Reply