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Thursday 27 September 2012

Burl reviews Enemy Territory! (1987)

Burl talking! You know, I’ve noticed a bit of a trend in the movies recently: action pictures taking place in one single apartment building! Attack the Block, The Raid: Redemption and the new Judge Dredd movie, Dredd 3-D, all qualify! But this concept isn’t new, of course, and today I’m here to give you an example of this microgenre from the year 1987! It’s called Enemy Territory, and co-stars none other than Ray Parker Jr.! Ha ha, who ya gonna call!
It’s a tightly constructed little movie! It starts with an insurance guy at the end of his rope, who, like Harry Potter in The Woman in Black, is ordered by his boss to undertake an apparently simple but very difficult mission in order to save his job! The insurance guy is played by an actor I was unfamiliar with called Gary Frank, and he turned out to be really quite a capable performer! Gary’s character was named either Barry or Larry, and his mission was to collect a signature and fee from an old policy-buying lady in a notoriously gang-ridden area of town!
The building turns out to be controlled by a particularly nasty gang called The Vampires! While they aren’t literally vampires, their leader is played by Candyman himself, Tony Todd, and he calls himself The Count! (And he turns out to actually believe he is a vampire, ha ha!) The supernatural theme extends to our hero, who is referred to as “The Ghost” by the gang members!
Gary-Barry-Larry pretty quickly runs afoul of the gang and is targeted for extermination! He’s trapped in the building, the semi-friendly security guard who was escorting him is knifed, and there seems nowhere to turn – but luckily, Ray Parker Jr. is visiting the building too! He plays a telephone repairman who happens to be in the tower for one reason: bustin’ quite simply makes him feel good! But he has a code of helping out anyone who needs it, so soon it’s him and Gary-Barry-Larry against the Vampires, who number in the dozens!
The hapless insurance agent and his telephone repairman friend (who’s almost as out of place as the tie-sporting white man, given that the building apparently has no telephones in it) battle their way from apartment to apartment, occasionally swinging down a floor or two on bedsheets, or sneaking down the stairs, or climbing down the elevator shaft! They get help from an adorable moppet, an elderly grandma, a tough teenage girl and a grizzled, paranoid, wheelchair-bound Vietnam veteran played by Jan Michael Vincent from Damnation Alley!
It’s a lean picture all right: the pursuit starts early and keeps going right through to the end! Unfortunately there’s not actually that much action in it, and a few dull stretches here and there! But it never gets outright boring, thankfully! The performances are better than you’d think all around; and the movie was shot by the very talented Ernest Dickerson, so it looks a lot better than this sort of thing typically does! There’s perfectly functional direction from a guy named Peter Manoogian, who directed Seedpeople but was also an assistant director on movies like Fear City and Lies! It’s nothing tremendously special, but I enjoyed the movie and I think you might too! I give Enemy Territory two spray-painted titles just like in They Live!


  1. Thanks for the tie-ins to this movie! I was watching Dredd and had watched The Raid not long ago and was like : who ripped who!?!

  2. So I'm downloading Enemy Territory to compare but I also read about a previous inspiration to all of them : "Where Eagles Dare". Seen it?

    1. Ha ha, no, I haven't seen Where Eagles Dare! I always thought it was part of a different microgenre, Mountain Climbing Action, just like The Eiger Sanction! Anyway, I'll have to see it! Hope you enjoy Enemy Territory!