TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: RETRIBUTION (1987)

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RETRIBUTION (1987)

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80s supernatural horror opens on Halloween night with lonely artist George (Dennis Lipscomb) trying to commit suicide. He is revived, but begins to have horrifying nightmares of people he doesn’t know, being murdered in terrible ways. His psychiatrist Dr. Jennifer Curtis (Leslie Wing) is baffled and cop Lt. Ashley (Hoyt Axton) is suspicious, as George’s dreams are coming true. It appears George was born on the same day and initially died at the same moment as gangster Vito Minelli, who is using George’s body to get revenge on those who murdered him.

Flick is produced and directed by Guy Magar who also co-wrote with Lee Wasserman. Despite some unintentionally goofy scenes, the film has a more serious tone than most horrors of the later 80s generally had. Vito in George’s body is a vicious and vengeful spirit, who murders people in sadistic and gory ways. We follow George’s emotional torment as he is forced to watch and take part in Vito’s gruesome vengeance and it is effective. The gore is pretty good and Magar does bring some intensity to the proceedings. On the down side, flick is about 10 minutes too long and by it’s last act it starts to wear us down with it’s brutality, but it is still an entertaining mix of slasher and supernatural horror. Magar uses some very colorful lighting filters on scenes, something that would become popular again with up and coming directors in today’s contemporary filmmaking. Despite being a malevolent spirit, Magar does earn Vito (Mike Muscat) a little sympathy when we flashback to his brutal death, though the scene also reveals his killers as equally cruel and thus removes any residual sympathy we might have had for them. In contrast, George comes across as a very sweet, if not emotionally troubled man and his romance with hooker with a heart of gold Angel (Killer Klowns’ Suzanne Snyder) adds to our empathy for him. George never really gets a break in the flick and it does resonate. Retribution would have left it’s audience with a lingering bittersweet conclusion, had Magar not opted for the cliché shock ending. Concluding it this way also doesn’t make any sense, as Vito’s vengeance is complete and there is no reason for him to continue to hang around. There was also no reason for him to attack Dr. Curtis either in the last act, other than to set up the climax, as she had nothing to do with his murder. On a production level, the film looks good for a slightly over $1 million budget. Magar uses the L.A. street locations effectively, Gary Thieltges’ cinematography is colorful and the electronic score from frequent John Carpenter collaborator Alan Howarth, adds atmosphere and 80s nostalgia.

The cast is good. Dennis Lipscomb is very likable as the troubled artist George. He’s a lonely guy, but not a creep as most characters like this are portrayed. We do feel bad for him when Vito starts to use him to kill. Leslie Wing is pretty and does a good job as the psychiatrist who seems to legitimately care for George. Axton is solid as the stereotypical cop character and Suzanne Snyder is very sweet as Angel. Snyder and Lipscomb have some chemistry together and their scenes together come across as genuine. It makes Angel and George’s tragic romance really click to the story’s benefit.

In conclusion, not a perfect movie, but an effective slasher. It’s a bit slow paced and maybe a few minutes too long, but it has a more serious tone at a time when horrors in the late 80s were becoming more humorous and self-aware. The cast add some depth to their roles and the scenes of horror are colorful and have some intensity. A bit too brutal for it’s own good at times, but otherwise a lesser known 80s horror worth checking out if you haven’t seen it.

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 3 (out of 4) jack o lanterns as it does open on Halloween.

tales of halloween rating

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One thought on “TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: RETRIBUTION (1987)

  1. Pingback: TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: UNDER SIEGE (1992) | MonsterZero NJ's Movie Madhouse

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