Friday, March 27, 2015

The Divine Enforcer

THE DIVINE ENFORCER, directed by Robert Rundle and released (presumably) directly to videocassette in 1992, is the world’s first psychic vigilante kung-fu priest movie! 

Don Stroud (COOGAN’S BLUFF) is over-the-moon deranged as the “Vampire of Los Angeles,” a serial killer who picks up prostitutes, removes their blood with a syringe, injects it into his arm, and keeps his victims’ skulls as trophies. He screams, rambles, rants, bugs his eyes, messes up his hair, takes off his shirt, flips the bird, and says dumb stuff like “You know what I mean, jellybean!” At one point, he looks at a mirror, yells, ties a shirt around his head, and takes a Polaroid of himself. I don’t know what the hell Stroud is doing, but it’s a sure thing he’s making it all up. It’s a remarkably terrible performance matched by a director who focuses on a skull shouting at Stroud to “kill the bitch” and “give me some blood.” 

Most of the actors have the excuse of being amateurs, but the experienced stars like Stroud have done better work elsewhere. Granted, they’re entirely on their own at the mercy of a foolish script, cheap sets, and incompetent direction. Erik Estrada (CHIPS) is hilariously miscast (his name is misspelled in the main titles) as a pipe-smoking monsignor, who lives in a suburban house with Father Thomas (top-billed Jan-Michael Vincent, whose script can be seen glued to the newspaper he’s holding), newcomer Father Daniel (Michael Foley, so wooden I think moss was growing on him), and their sexy dumb maid/landlady (?) Myrna (Judy Landers).

Daniel’s plan to clean up the crime-ridden streets is not through confession, but ass-kicking. Whenever he hears about ne’er-do-wells victimizing innocents, the director moves in close on Foley’s bugging eyes and slaps a red filter over the light to lead into Daniel’s imaginary dramatizations of what happened. Armed with throwing knives and a pistol with a cross engraved on the grip, Father Daniel goes into priest-fu mode, tossing off inept bon mots and punching out punks with laughable (for the audience) results. 

At least Stroud has the (slim) dignity of getting a character to play. A stupid, illogical character, but a character. Estrada and Vincent just sit around the kitchen table, while Jim Brown (SLAUGHTER) and Robert Z’Dar (SAMURAI COP) show up barely long enough to cheat one another in a drug deal. I doubt any of these guys worked more than one day in Rundle’s feeble attempt to fool videotape renters into grabbing this off the shelf. Every scene is slathered with monotonous underscoring that drowns out the dialogue. Not that these lines are worth hearing, but still… A stunningly incompetent action movie that deserves to be discovered by the “so bad it’s good” crowd.

1 comment:

Erin said...

This is definitely in the so-bad-it's-good category. I love how Father Erik Estrada spends the entire movie sitting at the dining room table!