Monday, January 30, 2012
Deadly Prey (1987)
Imagine if you will, a version of The Most Dangerous Game redone as a late 80's survival action movie on a seriously low budget with a little bit of First Blood thrown in for good measure. Oh wait, imagining it isn't required here as that is a pretty accurate description of this thing.
Ted Prior plays Mike Danton, an apparently random man who is kidnapped by a bunch of mercenaries, stripped to his shorts and forced to run off into the forest as part of a training exercise for some unspecified mission. As tends to be the case in movies of this type, Mike is actually a Vietnam vet and as soon as he's out in the woods, he begins racking up a body count that would make Rambo raise an eyebrow.
Actually, he might not be so random a target as the leader of the group, Col. Hogan, is Danton's former teacher which ends up giving the film a bizarre homoerotic undertone. I generally don't like to get into that sort of subtextual speculation (mainly because it's sort of played out) but this film seriously throws it in your face at full force. To be fair, the selection of Mike is random but given the amazing coincidence involved here...It's either that or David Prior is a crappy screenwriter. I'm leaning towards door number two, personally.
Troy Donahue is on hand as Hogan's wealthy benefactor and trying to help Mike are his wife Jaimy and her father, played by low budget mainstay Cameron Mitchell as Jaimy's Father (that's how he's listed in the credits). Mitchell has been in dozens of movies, all of which have at least one thing in common: They all, to some degree, suck. Here, he plays a cop with 30 years of experience and it would seem a bit of an issue with narcolepsy as he looks like he's about to fall asleep during his dialogue scene with Donahue. Still, he is sort of a badass after that scene as he gets to kill a few mercs himself. Beats the hell out of his turn in Space Mutiny.
This is one of his better appearances as the unintentional humor is simply off the charts. The dialogue is hilarious, the action is over the top, especially after Mike turns the tables and begins killing the mercs and in general, it's a very fun, over the top action movie.
Highlights include a grenade down the pants, the amusing New York Seltzer product placement, Mike swinging a gigantic log around like it's a small bat, Mike casually breaking a guy's back on a tree, the tendency of the bad guys to use instant death as a punishment for even the slightest bit of failure (somebody watches the James Bond films I see), the villain's second in command Thornton who looks like Rowdy Roddy Piper and kills indiscriminately, Mike ignoring a broken arm and killing a guy with a stick, the nicely overdone finale, really the entire movie is just an over the top gem.
If there's one flaw I can find with it, it would be that the late-in-the-film killing of Mitchell and the rape and murder of Danton's wife comes off as a little more than was really needed but that only docks one point for me. On the other hand, it does lead to a hilarious delayed reaction after Thornton takes a machete hit that lops off his arm followed by him getting beaten with the severed arm and then scalped.
I also don't generally dig freeze frame endings in lieu of an actual conclusion.
Deadly Prey was directed by the brother of our star Ted Prior, David A. Prior who has made a ton of action movies, many of which star Ted. Most of their films were released by AIP (Action International Pictures, not the one Sam Arkoff ran), purveyors of low budget action insanity and prime candidates for a VHS Memories post at some point.
This is a movie definitely worth tracking down.