Video Nasty #37
THEY TOOK IT UNTIL THEY COULDN'T TAKE ANY MORE!
Fight For Your Life
NTSC Running Time: 85:37
Also Known As: Getting Even, Held Hostage, I Hate Your Guts, The Hostage's Bloody Revenge, Stayin' Alive, Bloodbath At 1313 Fury Road
Directed by Robert A. Endelson
Written by Straw Weisman
Produced by William Mishkin
Starring: William Sanderson, Robert Judd, Daniel Faraldo, Peter Yoshida, Catherine Peppers, Lela Small, Yvonne Ross, Reginald Bythewood, and David Cargill
Body Count: 8
Region 0 DVD from Blue Underground
Why it's a Nasty: Language. Can you believe that shit?
What was cut: Nothing. Fight For Your Life was rejected for cinema classification on October 9th, 1981. Released on video by Vision On in 1982.
Current UK status: Fight For Your Life remains banned in the UK.
Fight For Your Life was successfully prosecuted. It is one of the DPP 39.
Hello again. It's been a while. So let's get reacquainted a little. Sit back, relax, and watch Fight For Your Life in that little video box up there while I finish preparing my notes. Then we'll chat. Ready? Good. Here we go.
New York City, 1977. Three convicts, Chino (Daniel Faraldo), Ling (Peter Yoshida), and Jesse Lee Kane (William Sanderson) escape from the paddywagon transporting them. They kill one of the officers and steal a pimpmobile, relieving said pimp of his clothes in the process. Lieutenant "Rulebook" Reilly is hot on their heels...somewhat. Doing everything by the book doesn't allow for keeping pace with psychos on the run.
Meanwhile, upstate, the Turner family is sitting down to dinner. Ted Turner (Robert Judd) is regaling his family with this Sunday's upcoming sermon. His wife (Catherine Peppers), mother (Lela Small), daughter Corrie (Yvonne Ross), and son Floyd (Reginald Bythewood) give him some gentle ribbing about it, Deacon Turner has clearly recited it for them many times this week. Corrie reminds everyone that Karen (Bonnie Martin), the girlfriend of elder son Val (Ramon Saunders), who was killed in a car accident, will be joining them for dinner the following evening. Ted glowers a bit at this. He blames Karen for Val's death.
Back with the fugitives, they ice a gas station attendant and keep moving, heading for Canada where they feel confident they will be able to board a flight to Paris and leave all this trouble behind them. Too bad trouble travels with them. Stopping off in a small market, the trio are getting ready to pull a holdup for some quick cash when Corrie Turner rides up on her bicycle to buy some last-minute groceries for dinner with Karen. Bad timing. Chino grabs Corrie, Kane shoots the clerk and loots the register...and that's when we get our first glimpse of just how fucking evil Jesse Lee Kane truly is: the clerk's baby daughter has been there the whole time, sitting in a high chair. Kane puts the gun to the child's head, pulls the trigger...click. This is Jesse Lee Kane's idea of a joke. And now that they have a hostage, they figure they can hole up at her house until dark. They bundle Corrie into their stolen ride, leaving her bicycle behind, and take her back home, where the real nightmare begins...
Produced by New York sleazemeister William Mishkin, the man guilty of unleashing the later works of Andy Milligan on the world, Fight For Your Life spends the bulk of its running time in the home of the Turners, where white trash cracker Kane heaps abuse and racism on everyone around him. William Sanderson, who would go on to great success as a character actor in everything from Blade Runner to Newhart to True Blood and more, shows his skill as an actor by crafting a character that no one with a shred of decency could like. He spews racial slurs, engages in rape and murder, and yet still believes that he should be pitied for the trials he has faced. I must have yelled "Somebody kill this fuck!" at the screen a dozen times as I watched this film. Jesse Lee Kane is a honky son of a bitch, and Sanderson's performance makes damn sure you hate his fucking guts.
Possible the only film on the Nasties list to be prosecuted for language, Fight For Your Life is an exercise in pure exploitation: Mishkin's ad campaign and even the title of the film was altered depending on where it played, hence the slew of alternate titles. This one may even beat Twitch Of The Death Nerve (see Blood Bath, Video Nasty #23) for the Nasty with the most AKAs. And that's exploitation gold. But unlike similar films that used blatant hucksterism to get butts in the seats (see Snuff, Video Nasty #20), Fight For Your Life keeps shocking you after your ticket is purchased. With scenes of rape, an almost-lynching, and constant racial epithets, there's lots here to widen your eyes, including what I thought was the absolute worst moment, Ling beating a kid to death with a rock. Yeah. I know. Fucking evil.
Most of the people involved in this film didn't do much else. Director Endelson made one other film, a porno called The Filthiest Show In Town, before this one, then moved on to other endeavours outside of film. Writer Straw Weisman is still working, producing a slew of B-movies. Sanderson and Faraldo are still working, as is Reginald Bythewood, who is now a writer and producer who created a TV show called Shots Fired that premiered a few days ago. Not bad for a kid who started out in a sleazy 70's race-hate film. It's fortunate that Blue Underground's William Lustig restored and released this one - after returning the original negative to the rightsholder, it was stored in a New Jersey basement and was destroyed in 2012 during Hurricane Sandy. Another exploitation classic lost.
I had mixed feelings about this one - it grabbed me, and I cared about the characters, but there was also something a bit "meh" about this one. The film has its champions (Bill Lustig and Sleazoid Express publisher Bill Landis among them), but this one landed in the middle for me. Better than some, not as good as others. Not a bad way to spend 85 minutes...but there's more entertaining choices out there. Pick it up and decide for yourself.
That's all for now. Remember to lock your doors, even if you live in the middle of nowhere. You never know when a psycho might come knocking. I'm gonna go check my deadbolt. Because my name's Justin. JustinCase.