What a gloriously stupid movie. I loved just about every minute of it. Writer/director David A. Prior made a shitty movie, but in giving it a solid pace and an absurd amount of violence, he made something entertaining and watchable. I defy anyone who watches not to laugh during multiple parts of this film, usually when the star, David’s beefcake brother Ted, stabs someone with a Halloween store plastic knife, or spouts out one-liners that would have left Sylvester Stallone blushing.
From way back in 1987, Deadly Prey is a direct-to-video Rambo ripoff. Ted Prior stars as Mike Danton, a Vietnam vet whom David places into an arena and allows to go kill crazy. Danton’s antagonist is Colonel Hogan (David Campbell), his former commanding officer, who has set up a mercenary training camp outside of Los Angeles. Ted Prior may play the main character, but he doesn’t get top billing. That goes to Cameron ‘Discount Shatner’ Mitchell and Troy Donahue, who were slumming it for an easy paycheck. Their scenes in this film looked as if they were filmed in a day.
Donahue plays the guy bankrolling Hogan’s militia, while Mitchell plays the father of Danton’s wife, Jaimy (Suzanne Tara). Mitchell’s character is also an ex-cop, but that’s a forgettable detail, as Prior and company didn’t seem all that interested in character development.
Prior gets things moving early. Hogan has an interesting philosophy when it comes to training. He wants his soldiers to experience the real thing. He does this by having his people head into the city and kidnap random folks, who are then set loose in the woods and hunted, Most Dangerous Game-style. He doesn’t give these victims any weapons or other materiel, which makes me wonder how this is combat training. Perhaps Prior was commenting on the viciousness with which the American military dealt with civilians during the Vietnam War, or perhaps this movie is just silly, and isn’t worth thinking too much about.
In a coincidence that could only happen in a movie, Danton becomes the latest kidnap victim. But, boy, did the mercenaries screw up. Although clad in nothing but very short cutoffs (so short I kept expecting one of his testicles to make an unscheduled appearance), Danton makes quick work of the mercenaries hunting him down. He goes full ’80s action star on them. He snaps necks, drowns, stabs, punctures, and kills with anything available at hand. What’s amazing is that, until the final act, he never bothers with picking up guns, or shoes, from the people he kills. He’s an avenging angel of chest sweat and period metal hair, and he don’t need no other gear.
Ted Prior was game for whatever his brother threw at him, making for a fine shitty movie performance, even with all the dead reads. He ate a live worm in one scene. It’s that type of dedication that separates this film from the dregs at the bottom of the Watchability Index, despite the poor production values and bottom-feeding performances.
The final act is particular pleasing, when David Prior defied all the conventions of how one of these flicks is supposed to end. I won’t spoil things, because this is a movie that shitty movie fans should seek out. The most surprising thing is that the ending is ambiguous enough that Prior and company were able to reunite for a sequel in 2013! Extraordinary. I cannot wait to see that film. As for Deadly Prey, I was expecting a flick that would settle into the bottom half of the index, where all the boring stuff lives. Instead, it lands way up into the top half, displacing Deathsport at #25. Objectively terrible, beautifully absurd, Deadly Prey is one for the shitty connoisseur.