Thou Shalt Not Kill... Except
October 13, 1985 (USA)
Josh Becker, Scott Spiegel, Bruce Campbell (story) and Sheldon Lettich (story)
Brian Schulz as Sgt. Jack Striker
Robert Rickman as Sgt. Walker J. Jackson
John Manfredi as Lt. David Miller
Timothy Patrick Quill as LCpl Tim Tyler
Sam Raimi as Cult Leader
Cheryl Hausen as Sally
Opening up in Vietnam 1969, Jack Striker (Brian Schulz) is ordered by Lt. David Miller (John Manfredi) into an attack on a Vietcong village, despite Striker’s disagreement on such an act. It turns that it is, in fact, a bad move as they are out-numbered by the enemy. Striker takes two bullet hits to the leg. Upon his return to the US, he is left limping and in need of a cane to walk around in. He heads back to his cabin with his cute and loyal dog, Whiskey (Dandy), and takes the chance to resume dating his pretty girlfriend, Sally (Cheryl Hausen). At the same time three of his buddies from the war, including Miller who feels responsible for what happened, are in the area and decide to pay him a visit. Unfortunately, a deranged cult leader (Evil Dead director Sam Raimi) is on a blood-sacrifice fueled rampage with his psychotic hippie gang. They kill Sally’s dad and take her hostage. Soon, Striker and his war buddies join together and prepare for a new war against the evil cult.
Thou Shall Not Kill… Except is made by many of the same team who bought us The Evil Dead, including Bruce Campbell who came up with some of the story and producer Scott Speigel, who also produced this and co-wrote it as well. This is clearly a low-budget movie. But, it doesn’t matter because it’s filled with more enthusiasm than movies with ten times the budget. It’s a complete blast, pun intended, from beginning to end.
It is mostly a light-hearted romp with what might be the most fun Vietnam War sequence, outside of Peter Jackson’s Meet the Feebles, you’ll ever see. It’s a campy movie all the way, one that is just a really funny mix of action, war, humor, splatter, and horror. Despite the level of violence, it always feels like a good time and rarely, if ever, mean-spirited and nasty.
That graphic gore present in Thou Shalt Not Kill… Except earned it an x-rating and features head-shots, blood-spattering squibs, impaling, stabbing, slashing, and most memorable, to me, garden-shears to the eyes. The FX, themselves, range from the poor, as evident most clearly by the rubber, dead rat, to the pretty convincing, which is thankfully most of the other effects.
t moves at a break-neck pace, so that it seems to fly right by and not just because of the short eighty-three minute running time. While the first fist fight, which involves a bunch of bikers outside a bar, is not the most exciting, the rest of the action scenes are. In particular this pertains to the extended climax which really kicks some major ass. Some really cool dialogue is said between the two antagonists which further highlights the ending.
In keeping with The Evil Dead mentality and feel, so prevalent here, Thou Shalt Not Kill… Exceptis stylishly shot. Director/ co-writer Becker fills the movie with some very cool shots and snake-like camera movement. The quick and exciting edits also help to give the movie a nice and exciting look and edge.
The acting ranges from the amateurish to the decent. While Hausen makes for a very pretty love-interest, her acting is, admitably, the worst in the film. Our four heroes, though, have great chemistry and likable relationships between themselves. Schulz, in particular, makes for a very likable hero in the form of Striker. But, it’s Raimi who is the biggest pleasure to see. He is so wonderfully over-the-top as the Charles Manson type villain. He clearly is having as much fun playing the role as we are watching him.
A very energetic time, Thou Shalt Not Kill… Except has a minor cult following and recently came out on a blu-ray/ DVD combo courtesy of Synapse Films. If you have never seen it, now is the perfect time to do so! While, the movie itself looks very grainy at times, the disc does come with some really cool extra features. And, since it’s a combo of both disc formats there is no excuse not to see it. Worshiped in some circles, it’s great to see this wild, over-the-top but of cinema get such a nice release. Besides, where else are you going see the director of a major film series like the first Spider-Man trilogy play a Manson-type looney?