• Drive-In Collection: The Executioner Part II / Frozen Scream



    Drive-In Collection: The Executioner Part II / Frozen Scream
    Released by: Vinegar Syndrome
    Released on: October 6th, 2015.
    Director: James Bryan/Frank Roach
    Cast: Christopher Mitchum, Aldo Ray, Renee Harmon
    Year: 1984/1975
    Purchase From Amazon

    The Movie:

    Vinegar Syndrome’s latest Drive-In Collection double feature DVD pairs up James Bryan’s The Executioner Part II and Frank Roach’s Frozen Scream (recreating the pairing that the two films received when released on VHS by Continental years ago). How much Renee Harmon can you handle?

    The Executioner Part II (1984):

    Set on the seedy side of Los Angeles, The Executioner Part II starts with a prologue where we see Lieutenant Roger O'Malley (Christopher Mitchum) and fellow soldier Mike (Antoine John Mottet) fighting for their lives. Cut back from the war to eighties L.A. and Roger is now a cop working under a tough commissioner (Aldo Ray), the kind that yells a lot and wants results, while Mike runs a little mechanic’s shop. Roger’s wife has passed away and he’s trying to raise his daughter right, but she and her blonde friend (who sounds like she was dubbed by Desiree Cousteau but probably wasn’t) really dig drugs. They dig drugs so much, in fact, that they start tricking to get their fix money (“Oh heavenly coke!”).

    Meanwhile, someone is cleaning up the streets vigilante style – clocking bad dudes in the face with a pistol grip and blowing guys up with grenades. The commissioner wants Roger to stop this guy and so he kinda-sorta teams up with a reporter named Celia Amherst (Harmon) to do just that. This vigilante, referred to in the press as The Executioner, is doing a better job of fighting crime than the cops but his methods are extreme. When Roger’s daughter winds up in trouble, kidnapped by a tattooed man with a penchant for rough sex, he may have no other choice but to turn to the vigilante for help.

    A deliriously goofy low budget take on films like Death Wish and The Exterminator and a sequel in name only to the George Peppard starring The Executioner made in 1970, this film is nuts. The whole thing appears to be dubbed which gives it a weird vibe right from the start and Aldo Ray, whose scenes where probably should in an hour, is randomly edited into certain scenes with all the grace of a lumberjack and a chainsaw. Full of stock music and bad gore effects, the movie goes at a pretty good pace and features plenty of action and weird characters, enough so that you can look past the absolutely massive plot holes and enjoy this trash classic for the eighty some off minutes of cinematic stupidity that it is.

    Mitchum, to his credit, does as well as he can here. Fresh from a stint in Asia making action movies he throws his punches and his kicks well and he looks pretty cool with his poofy eighties moustache here. Renee Harmon is sometimes hard to understand, her thick German accent making her strange part stand out even more. Antoine John Mottet steals the show as the deranged Vietnam Vet with a taste for Miller High Life, especially when he starts reacting to his flashbacks and going all nutty in the last half of the movie.

    Frozen Scream (1975):

    The second film revolves around a scientist named Sven Johnsson (Lee James) and his assistant Lil Stanhope (Harmon again) as they try to uncover the secret to eternal life. They go about this by using students from a college course that they teach as human guinea pigs in a series of nonsensical experiments. Teaching this class seems to involve hanging out on a beach at night and repeating the words ‘love… and immortality’ over and over again. Before you know it, they’ve kinda-sorta figured out that yeah, you can live forever, you just have to be frozen until you die and then come back as a zombie to make it work.

    Enter a nosey woman named Anne (Lynn Kocol). She starts poking around when her husband, Tom Girard (Wolf Muser), goes missing. She doesn’t realize he was used in one of their experiments but she knows something is up. Then there’s a cop named Kevin McGuire (Thomas Gowen). He serves as our occasional narrator and may or may not have a thing for Anne. Some people get naked and some people die.

    This is a pretty confusing film, a complete mess of a picture, really, but it’s fascinating if you’re in the right frame of mind for it. The voiceover work should tie the story together but instead it’s so poorly written and so lazily delivered that it does no such thing. It only serves to further confuse. Nobody here can act, least of all Harmon, but that doesn’t seem to matter to anyone. Sometimes people get into fights and there’s a priest in here too.

    Oh, and then there’s a band. They play two songs, the first is a thinly veiled cover version of ‘Whole Lotta Shakin’ Going On’ and the second is ‘Rock Around The Clock’ with the words changed to what sounds like ‘Jack Around The Shack.’ You’d probably get arrested for jacking around the shack in most states but here the boppers get down to it, cutting mad rugs all over the place and at one point one overzealous dancing machine does a back flip.

    There are tits. TITS! There is blood. There’s a guy who looks like my stepdad, Doug, except with curly hair – he runs around in a black robe causing trouble and kills a dog. After that he gets his eyes clawed out. My step dad is a pretty nice guy and I don't think he'd kill a dog unless it was self defense but this guy? He's crazy! That’s not a spoiler, really, because you still won’t know what’s going on. The zombies are mostly cold looking dudes with no shirts on BUT they have shiny black and metal stickers on their necks. The mad scientists operate out of a hospital or campus of some sort that looks like the back of a cheap motel.

    When I die, I want this movie played at my funeral. I want everyone in attendance to sit down, shut up, and watch Frozen Scream. I want them to learn from it, I want them to love it the same way that I love it.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Both films are presented in 1.78.1 anamorphic widescreen. The Executioner Part II was shot on 35mm (short ends, according to Bryan) and Frozen Scream in 16mm. Both are taken from 2k scans of the original negatives and look quite good. The Executioner II has some mild print damage here and there but the colors look great and the detail is strong for a DVD. Not surprisingly, Frozen Scream is grainier, which makes sense given its origins, but it too shows good detail and color reproduction. There’s a bit of print damage here too but it’s not overwhelming or anything.

    It’s English language Dolby Digital Mono across the board here, no alternate language options or subtitles are provided. There’s a bit of minor distortion in the audio for The Executioner Part II but nothing too serious. As to Frozen Scream, expect a bit of hiss pretty much throughout the entire movie but just accept it. Go with it. You're only going to make out about half of what Renee Harmon is saying anyway so in a sense you can just make up your own story and play along. Both films have properly balanced levels at least.

    There aren’t any extras for Silent Scream but in regards to The Executioner Part II we get a theatrical trailer for the film and a fifteen minute interview with director James Bryan. He talks about how he came to direct this project, the strange situation around its casting process, what he tried to bring to the project and what it was like working with Mitchum, Ray and Renee Harmon.

    The Final Word:

    The main draw for most cult fans is going to be the deliriously nutty The Executioner Part II, and that’s fair. It’s a really fun, ridiculous piece of nonsense. But seriously, show Frozen Scream at my funeral. Good God in Heaven, that movie is insane.




























































    Comments 2 Comments
    1. paul h.'s Avatar
      paul h. -
      I want those Marshall amps. Excellent review Ian! I'm just about to dig in to my copy, still hungover from watching DEMONOID last night.
    1. Jason C's Avatar
      Jason C -
      The trailer for Executioner Part II is one the greatest ever. I want that played at my funeral. If the films are half as entertaining as your review we are in great shape. Thanks