"I take orders from the Octoboss."


tn_skinheadsBefore GREEN ROOM, before Election 2016, there was Greydon Clark’s SKINHEADS (1989), about a small gang of neo-Nazis running wild.

It starts, like so many cheap action movies, with the gang robbing a convenience store. But in this case they there’s no hero to kick their ass, and they intentionally turn their wrath on the elderly Jewish owners and a young black customer.

Now that they are murderers, they decide maybe it’s time to get out of town for a bit. Take a vacation in the mountains somewhere outside of Reno. But their rampage continues when they stop at a cafe and pick a fight with some other patrons. After Tiny (Duane Davis, UNDER SIEGE, TYSON, PAPARAZZI) accepts the challenge and outboxes the biggest, dumbest skinhead, Brains (Dennis Ott, “Bar Character,” ROAD HOUSE), their crazy leader Damon (Brian Brophy, CITY OF INDUSTRY) shoots and kills him.

The gang tries to kill all the witnesses, but Amy (Elizabeth Sagal, one of the twins from the old sitcom Double Trouble, now executive story editor of Sons of Anarchy and co-executive producer of Feed the Beast) and Jeff (Jason Culp, HICKEY & BOGGS) get away, eventually hiding out in a remote cabin that turns out to belong to Mr. Huston (Chuck Connors, TOURIST TRAP), a loner WWII vet who we saw briefly toward the beginning of the movie. He offers them shelter, some tough guy lines and his expertise in killing Nazis. But Jeff is no slouch either, he sets up some pretty cool booby traps.

Cool poster art. Reminds me of CLASS OF 1984. But why does it look like Chuck is in the skinhead gang?
Cool poster art. Reminds me of CLASS OF 1984. But why does it look like Chuck is in the skinhead gang?

It would make alot of sense for the heroes to be one of the minorities that these pricks hate. Instead they’re just white people who get along with other races. Jeff makes a pretty good speech about his murdered friend:

“You didn’t know Tiny, but he was one of the best guys I ever knew. Everybody that knew him loved him. And that scum killed him just because he was black. I’ve been floating around for years pretending like this stuff didn’t exist anymore. I can’t pretend anymore. And I can’t walk away. No more apathy. Tough way to learn a lesson.”

By the way, he says all that while setting a bear trap. If you’re an actor, consider that next time you’re trying to come up with some business to do during an emotional monologue.

For a while, the skinheads are stalking the heroes through the woods, with various inter-gang conflicts. Damon is crazier than the others and actually thinks they’re going to start a race war. Of course they have a boyish new member, who got his head shaved for the first time at the beginning, and he has concerned eyes to show he’s reluctant about everything. I understand why this is a handy storytelling trope but jesus christ, you can’t expect us to be sympathetic toward the naive newbie when it’s a Neo-Nazi gang he joins. Ah, poor guy didn’t sign up to be an accessory to murder. He just wanted to be with some bros in a van with a swastika on the side who share his violent hatred of minorities – that’s all, I swear!

It turns into a siege movie in the cabin, before the fight moves back out into the woods. Damon says “We are going to split up to find the hero and the woman,” which is the same names I would’ve had to use in this review had IMDb never been invented.

After they separate, one of them is literally crying for mommy about how scared he is, especially after seeing a rattlesnake. When Amy is cornered by the one female skinhead, Liz (Lynna Hopwood), she tries to make a woman-to-woman plea to her. But racial purity is more important to Liz than sisterhood. That wasn’t covered in MEAN GIRLS.

Unfortunately this is shoddily made, and not very exciting for a movie where a guy gets nailed to a wall and then attacked by a bear. It doesn’t in any way glamorize skinheads, but it’s definitely more about exploiting the existence of scary neo-Nazis than giving a genuine warning or offering insights into the phenomenon. But there is one part where Damon angrily summarizes his world view:

“They’re taking over the world through the marketplace. Bankers, industrialists, multi-national corporations are controlling world policy and economies. Do you think you’re getting the truth on the 6 o’clock news? We don’t even own America anymore. We are on the verge of extinction. Outsiders are buying our lands, our homes, our business, our country. I can’t even find a white man to fix my car!”

You know, take off that last line and change “6 o’clock news” to “CNN,” and this could almost be said by even some mainstream Republicans today. But they would say it like it was reasonable, not like they were the villain making a speech, the way Damon does. And we would be expected to play along as if we don’t know for sure who they’re talking about running the world, and as if refusing to share our society with people of other races is just “economic anxiety.”

I never realized that one of George W. Bush's famous quotes had already been the tagline on a movie about Neo-Nazis.
I never realized that one of George W. Bush’s famous quotes had already been the tagline for a movie about Neo-Nazis!

As Damon (SPOILER) breathes his last breath he mutters “We will never die,” and that’s the very end of the movie. Sadly that’s more prophetic than we would like. As much as we are still dealing with racism in this country, I really did think the self-identified white supremacists like this were a rarity in this century. I was like Jeff, “floating around for years pretending like this stuff didn’t exist anymore.”

But recent events have flipped over their rocks, emboldening them to crawl off of the internet into the public. We have an uptick in swastika graffiti, the KKK throwing a parade to celebrate Trump’s victory, “white nationalists” having a convention and sieg heiling in a federal building named after Reagan, threatening letters being sent to mosques, and one of their enablers as chief strategist in the new White House (emphasis on “White”). I hope that they are just a very vocal minority and will not be seen as a constituency for the rest of the GOP to exploit like the Tea Party people were. I don’t think I’m being partisan by saying fuck these fucking guys. I’m sure the conservatives we have here agree. These guys need to pay attention to the instructions in that tune by the Dead Kennedys.

Long before SKINHEADS became depressingly timely again, it was a superb exploitation premise. Neo-Nazi skinheads were a new phenomenon as far as most Americans knew, they were in the media, and here is this idea of a badass greatest generationer taking them on. Kind of a “I can’t even fucking believe I have to deal with this shit in the year 1989″ attitude, although a “you pussies aren’t real Nazis, I already killed the real Nazis” would’ve worked too. I’d honestly love to see a remake of this, done in more of a Clint Eastwood type of way where the vet is the main character, not just the guy who helps the young leads in the second half.

But if they did it would have to be an ’80s period piece, because the remaining WWII vets are too old to kick ass. Not to disparage them – they’ve earned a break from kicking ass. But it’s worth noting that only as the war is fading from living memory are white supremacist creeps starting to slither out into the open again. Number one, being that far removed from Hitler’s atrocities and the people who were there helps them to avoid common human decency. Number two, they feel safe knowing that Chuck Connors isn’t gonna be there to stop them. They can look stuff up on IMDb too, so they know he died three years after this movie came out.

That just means we’re gonna have to be Chuck Connors.


This entry was posted on Monday, November 28th, 2016 at 11:23 am and is filed under Action, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

33 Responses to “Skinheads”

  1. Sometimes I wonder if turning Hitler and Nazis into popculture punchlines through Indiana Jones, Mel Brooks, Adult Swim and Co, wasn’t such a good idea either. Especially in countries, where WWII and the holocaust aren’t such a huge part of education. Okay, it’s not that we don’t have any trouble with Neo Nazis and “Alt-right” (=Neo Nazis with cooler name) parties over here, so the whole “let’s talk about the holocaust every damn year in school” might not really prevent it, but a part of me thinks that less people would be willing to yell “Sieg Heil” and wear swastikas, without the IRON SKY’s, CASTLE WOLFENSTEINs and what inspired them.

  2. “I’d honestly love to see a remake of this, done in more of a Clint Eastwood type”

    Vern, you ever review PINK CADILLAC?

  3. Does he fight skinheads in Pink Cadillac?

  4. No, RRA, but I definitely will!

  5. Great review man. This almost sounded like the alternate title of a flick I just watched on TCM. Punk Vacation. My favorite line is when a cop finds some cupcakes in the woods: “We have confirmation of Punk activity!”
    Hilarious IMDb lines too. And
    NAZI PUNKS FUCK OFF!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. One Guy from Andromeda

    November 29th, 2016 at 12:29 pm

    To me the naive gang member with “concerned eyes to show he’s reluctant about everything” works more as a sociological statement – that the society he came from is so broken that it wasn’t really his choice to join Nazis/the inner city gang/the enemy…

  7. I don’t know man. What happened to sharp, confident, balls to the wall Vern? That Seagalogy book was brutally good, little hints of softiness here and there but overall – great cocky piece of writing. I grew to love Vern.
    Then I discovered this website, I enjoyed reviews. But then I learned that Vern is really easily offended by movies and also by real life – I know that I have become softier with age but I don’t find skinheads, muslim-killing-Butler or Trump offensive. With such a broad choice of reviewed movies one can hope that reviewer has at least some kind of contrarian view instead of going SAFE mainstream route. Every mother hated “London has fallen”, every regular (self-proclaimed intelligent) person hates Trump – it’s really boring that such a best reviewer is also going that way.
    I suggest to Vern to find some edge, drink some whiskey, grow some hair on his balls and have this non-millennial attitude not being offended by everything.

    It’s not random bashing by me but I already know that when I start reading Vern’s review about some movie with sensitive material, it doesn’t offer me any new point of view or really daring opinions.

  8. “Hey, man, I’m not bashing you or nothing, but would it be cool if you ditched your entire carefully considered world view which is based in compassion and understanding and just said some random shocking contrarian garbage for no reason because millennials? That would make you a real man, if you just gave up everything you believed in because some guy on the internet made fun of your balls.”

  9. Hey, at least I suggested some ways to make movie reviews more entertaining not to be just some sad parallel to real world

  10. There are more than enough shock jocks in the world. They aren’t original. They’re very much not entertaining. They wouldn’t know excellence if it bit them in those hairy balls you’re so enamored with. Vern is better than that.

  11. To you, they would be more entertaining. But what I like about Vern, and I don’t think I’m the only one, is that he’s not some dancing monkey putting on a show for a fickle audience. He’s a dude speaking his honest mind. You are asking him to stop doing that. Because you are not offended by this, that, or the other, Vern should shut up about it. Even better, he should pretend that he thinks the opposite. I don’t think you fully understand the ramifications of what you’re suggesting. You’re suggesting that Vern give up who he is and how he sees the world because you think it would be more fun to hear a lot of hot takes than the earnest expression of a man’s soul. But the internet is full of hot takes. It doesn’t have a lot of authentic motherfuckers.

    And Vern hasn’t changed. Even when he was pretending to be a 50-year-old ex-con, he still didn’t go out of his way to be a contrarian or offend anyone, and when he realized that some of the language he used did just that, he cut that shit out right quick. He didn’t have to be an asshole to speak his mind. This is the same dude who flipped Dick Cheney the bird to his face. Was that too “mainstream” for you?

    Vern is who he is, which, among other things, is the type of guy who doesn’t need me to defend him. However, he’s likely to be nicer about it than I am, so I figured I’d get in a few digs before he swooped in and disarmed the situation with more class and composure than I feel your criticism warrants.

  12. What are you accusing me of being too sensitive about? The increase of open bigotry in our country? Gee, I’m sorry that I don’t have “really daring opinion” in favor of hatred and fascism. I’m glad you liked Seagalogy, but I feel like maybe you didn’t read the whole thing, since the whole impetus of the book was ON DEADLY GROUND and analyzing the progressive messages I saw in his work.

    How’s this for sensitive: I find it insulting that you have read me for all these years and think I’m some dumb south parkian asshole that’s gonna say stupid shit just to go against the pack. I don’t know if this is edgy or not, but I invite you to go fuck yourself.

  13. Write what you´d like, Vern. Pay no attention to any of this nonsense. I don´t always agree with you politically, but that is ok. And it must definitely should be for most adults who are willing to accept different opinions. Otherwise there is an old junglesaying called “Grow the fuck up” which might be appropriate to quote.

    There are a lot of opinions online, but very few original or who are willing to give out a bit of themselves in their pieces to make what their write unique and personal. Very few writers online are willing to go that extra mile, because they are afraid to alienate people or lose subscribers ( or whatever)

    You do a good job. Keep it up.

  14. Wow. Honestly, raygun’s comment left me feeling more pity for him than for Vern, because that was just a straight-up dumbshit lemming comment. Grow the fuck up. Or sober up. Or both.

  15. I hate to rise to nonsense like this, but I’m thinking right now may not be the time for quietism.

    BUT it’s not just the care with and quality of the opinions expressed by Vern. I also really appreciate the care with and quality of the ideas, the juxtapositions and composition of the whole site. Hell, last year we got Antoine Doinel versus American Ninja!

    Keep it up, Vern.

  16. Yeah, raygun skinheads aren’t offensive or anything, who possibly takes offense to people whose end goal is the extermination of those who do not share their heritage or politics.
    As someone who has experienced:
    shows being crashed by,
    has had friends stalked and harassed by,
    and who has made an effort to make sure I’m present to oppose them whenever they try and congregate in my city,
    I take issue with your indifference.

    The fact that you would consider someone who rightly labels Fascism as abhorrent, is just espousing the SAFE mainstream opinion, rather than just telling it like it is, speaks volumes of your shittiness as a person.

  17. Crushinator Jones

    January 6th, 2017 at 7:46 pm

    Guys who are this focused on male “hardness” and signifies of manliness are universally over-compensating doughy betas. Embarrassing.

  18. It’s so weird that raygun doesn’t realise that, as far as modern film criticism is concerned at least, being considerate, thoughtful, compassionate, explorative, well researched and legitimately funny IS being contrarian to how most motherfuckers are out here doing it. Also, his “I don’t find skinheads, muslim-killing-Butler or Trump offensive” line did make me feel legitimately sick, but that could just be a case of me getting softier with age.

  19. Sounds like raygun is so offended by Vern’s views and writings, that he needs trigger warnings and safe spaces on here. Semicolon closed bracket.

  20. “He’s likely to be nicer about it than I am.” I am so glad you were proved wrong, Majestyk. Nothing like starting the year out with Vern sending a guy through a plate glass window. (Reference to cocky piece of writing in Seagalogy)

  21. Judging from the comments, it looks like each and every one took their turn in throwing raygun thrrough a plate glass window. That poor guy.

  22. We bought the windows in bulk. What else are we gonna do with them?

  23. excerpt from London Has Fallen review “It plays to your fears of terrorist attacks and then to your fantasies that we can make it all better if we just have some guys that are awesome at shooting and then use super weapons to blow up their families from the sky. You got alot of fuckin nerve treating me like a Donald Trump voter, movie.”

    As far as I understand, this is Hillary’s main strategy, you cannot throw everything at Trump. Political correctness is bothering me most about Vern’s reviews and his hating of “right” targets. Otherwise, I have found so many great movies thanks to Vern so I’m continuing to read this website.

  24. Oh yeah, that darn political correctness, amirite? Remember when we were allowed to be racist, sexist and antisemitic assholes? But now we can’t even stretch our eyelids and yell “Ding dong ching chong!” anymore, whithout the PC police supressing our freedom of speech. Seriously, political correctness ruins everything. Who ARE these people who ask us to think before we speak and treat others with respect! Curse you, Hillary and your liberal Hollywood friends! CURSE YOU!!!!!

  25. This should be a thing:


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  26. Something tells me this is already

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  27. But I actually trust cops…..

  28. Yeah, I gotta be honest, the cops part really needed a rewrite and comes across like a headscratcher, but the rest of the vid is gold. (The testimonials crack me up all the time. Especially how the celebrity guest star first flubs his line, but then totally nails the rest of the take.)

  29. “How come black people can say Black Power? But when I say White Power people get mad?” That shit is hilarious, especially the tone of the song and cluelessness of it is pretty spot on.

  30. ‘As far as I understand, this is Hillary’s main strategy, you cannot throw everything at Trump.’

    HRC is a hawk. That is very different from someone who reportedly asked why we can’t just nuke the enemy three times in one meeting. Which, before you point it out, is almost completely unsubstantiated. But he has otherwise displayed such an intense fixation on potential nuclear warfare that he ends up giving credence to something that would otherwise be as baseless as a high school rumor, a pattern of behavior that has repeated itself not only regarding nuclear weapons but also his sexual assault allegations and Russian interference with the election. He has a big mouth that he loves to shoot off and that is going to play very differently with an international audience that is not going to be as impressed with the empty fiduciary chicanery and overcompensating alpha male act that seem to be so impressive to his supporters. HRC has actual experience with foreign policy and diplomacy. Trump trades in fear and fantasy.

  31. As of Friday, the man was in a twitter spat with Arnold Schwarzenegger (Arnold was all class, of course). This is our President-elect. An man with the maturity of a trust fund toddler.

  32. I read somewhere, without a hint of irony, that we shouldn’t vote in college educated politicians because they use their fancy education to confuse regular, not educated folk.

    Also, raygun, would you not be offended if I insulted your mother?

  33. Watched Without Warning, which I was surprised to see doesn’t have a review here, as it’s an interesting blend of teen slasher movie and alien creature feature which seems right up Vern’s alley. To me, it was largely unsuccessful–the cast spends more time getting menaced by an unhinged Vietnam vet than the alien and the kills definitely need work–but I’d say it has historical value as an early example of genre-blending. And there are some great weird touches and ‘not playing around’ moments to redeem some of the padding and contrivances.

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