Sunday, October 25, 2015
The Zebra Force
Los Angeles capo Salvatore (Anthony Caruso) brings in hitman Carmine Longo (Tornatore regular Mike Lane) from Detroit and teams him with right-hand man Charlie DiSantis (Richard X. Slattery, whose trademark red hair is dyed black) to find the “black guys” pulling the heists. Even though the story by Tornatore (with Annette Lombardi credited with “additional scenes & dialogue”) is told from the mob’s point of view, we’re meant to root for Wilder’s gang, who keep the loot for themselves, but insist on flushing the stolen drugs down the toilet to prevent it from “ending up in some kid’s arm.” Between heists, they sit around playing cards and drinking RC cola and admiring Wilder’s genius.
But who cares about story? ZEBRA FORCE’s reason for existing is so Tornatore can show off car chases and gun violence, impressively conveyed in slow motion, all the better to let the audience coo at the crazy stunts. Charles Bernstein of WHITE LIGHTNING and A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET fame performs a favor for Tornatore by delivering an energetic wacka-wacka musical score under the pseudonym Charles Alden. Tough guy actors Slattery (WALKING TALL), Rockne Tarkington (BLACK SAMSON), and Lane (STAY AWAY, JOE) growl pointless tough-guy dialogue between stunts. Best of all is ZEBRA FORCE’s climactic plot twist, which is clever, not at all plausible, and almost too good for a picture this cheap. Believe it or not, Tornatore made a sequel over a decade later with Lane returning as Carmine Longo.