The Last Horror Film (Onanistic Maniacal Horror Comedy)


With the success of 1980’s Maniac, producer Judd Hamilton saw dollar signs in the torrid team-up of the beautiful Caroline Munro and quirky character actor Joe Spinell. As a result, we were graced by the truly bizarre The Last Horror Film (lensed at the 1981 Cannes Film Festival as The Fanatic) less than two years later. Various video releases aside, Severin Films have finally unleashed the definitive reissue. What should you expect? The unexpected. The film opens with Vinny Durand (Spinell) sweatily masturbating to a murder sequence involving his favorite actress, Jana Bates (Munro) in a grimy Times Square shit hole movie house. Vinny is a down on his luck cabbie with big dreams indeed. He, like most die-hard horror fans, wants to make a movie with his beloved Jana in the lead. Obsessed, he follows her to Cannes and proceeds in his macabre quest to make his dreams come true. Of course, people die along the way. Anybody expecting the sleazy pathos of Maniac from this follow-up is going to be gravely disappointed. Whereas Maniac was very much a product of the 1970’s dawning into the 1980s, The Last Horror Film is a cocaine-fueled party romp of camp hilarity with a turn by Spinell that is somewhere between John Hinckley and Christopher X. Brodeur. If you get a charge out of seeing Joe Spinell writhe in onanistic ecstasy, brace yourself because there’s at least two scenes of masturbatory madness in this thing. While not my thing, I’m sure there’s a section of the audience who find such endeavors positively bonerific.


This is one of those movies that decides very early on that plots are for pussies, so just shut your brain off with the aid of your favorite intoxicant (this scribe recommends Thorazine) and dig on the Scooby Doo meets Red Shoe Diaries atmosphere of The Last Horror Film, a movie that truly can’t be accused of dishonesty. After a few dodgy DVD releases by TROMA and a much better overseas Blu-ray from our friends at 88 Films, Severin Films continues their hot streak with a superb reissue of this one (released in certain territories as Maniac 2) that blows away all competitors. The new 4K transfer captures the plastic pathology of Cannes perfectly along with the very cool glimpses into the premieres of personal favorites like Possession and Cannibal Holocaust. The Dolby Mono soundtrack perfectly reproduces the grubby charms of Depeche Mode’s “Photographic” and the whole thing plays like the last title in an all-night horror festival gone deeply wrong. Thankfully, Severin’s BD also restores cut scenes of violence that make the film even more of a confused clusterfuck. Where Severin shines, as always, is with their extra features. An updated audio commentary with Joe Spinell’s best friend and assistant Luke Walter is here to introduce some semblance of order to what turned out to be a very chaotic shoot. There’s also some very sweet interviews with Munro and Judd Hamilton that explain things even further. A trip of trailers cap off a very satisfying package. If you like your cinema off the wall, you couldn’t do worse than this exercise in sheer lunacy.


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Written by David, Comptroller of Your Last Scrap of Existence

The Last Horror Film (2023, Blu-ray)
Director: David Winters
Distributor: Severin Films
4.4 / 5