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L'Ultimo Cacciatore

The Last Hunter
Hunter of the Apocalypse / Jäger der Apokalypse

Italy 1980
produced by
Gianfranco Couyoumdjian for Flora Film, Gico Cinematografica
directed by Anthony M. Dawson (= Antonio Margheriti)
starring David Warbeck, Tisa Farrow, Tony King, Bobby Rhodes, Margit Evelyn Newton, John Steiner, Massimo Vanni, Alan Collins (= Luciano Pigozzi), Dino Conti, Gianfranco Moroni
screenplay by Dardano Sacchetti, based on a story by Gianfranco Couyoumdjian, music by Franco Micalizzi

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Vietnam 1973: The morale of the American troops is incredibly low by now as it is, and it's not made any better by a propaganda radiostation telling the American soldiers to lay down their weapons and go home to their wives, since "we are all brothers". The American headquarters in Saigon don't like this one bit, blaming the radio broadcasts (instead of the strains of the jungle war) on the bad morale of the troops. So they send Captain Morris (David Warbeck) into the jungle to pick up a small platoon - which surprisingly also includes Jane Foster (Tisa Farrow), a female reporter - and destroy the radio transmitter.

But on their way, the platoon stumbles over traps and ambushes laid by the Vietcong every step along the way, and consequently they die like flies. Finally they make it to an American army camp, inside a large3 cave system, where they see the madness of the war in full swing: All the soldiers can't sleep anymore when they hear no gunshots, most of them smoke marihuana, most of them want/try to rape Jane Foster, and Major Cash (John Steiner), the commander of the camp seems to be tired of war and quite mad at the same time (in one scene he sends a soldier out into the jungle to pick him a coconut as punishment).

Finally, the Vietcong overrun the camp and blow it to Kingdom Come, and only Cap Morris and two of his soldiers, Wash (Tony King) and Carlos (Bobby Rhodes) manage to escape, while Jane is captured by the Vietcong.

On their way to fulfill their mission, our trio stumbles over a boat of American deserters - enticed by the aforementioned radio broadcasts of course -, and get into a shoot-out with them, which kills all the deserters, but also Wash and Carlso.

Morris is now on his own, but soon enough he is taken prisoner by the Vietcong, who lock him into a gcage in the water, where he sees another prisoner eaten up by rats ... then the rats turn on him. But still, Morris seems to be in luck: Firstly, he is imprisoned quite close to the transmitter of those bloody radio broadcasts, and secondly, Jane is kept at the same camp, and she soon can free herself, then free him.

'Finally, Foster finds the boat from where the broadcasts are transmitted ... and he finds Carol (MArgit Evelyn Newton), the woman responsible for the broadcasts and his very own sister-in-law (her husband, his brother, turned into a nervous wreck by the horrors of the war, has been seen killing himself at the beginning of the film). Foster shoots her without hesitation, and he manages to direct helicopters to the camp for a pick-up and to bomb the camp, but ultimately, after Jane is tucked away safely in a helicopter, he prefers to stay behindand die in the camp being blown up, just to escape the horrors of the war ...

 

With the success of then pretty recent films like Deer Hunter and Apocalypse Now, war films were suddenly the thing to do for every producer out for a quick buck, and the Italian filmindustry - never one not to jump any bandwagon - was quick to put out a sheer endless string of war and mercenary movies. Most of these movies, mind you, were pretty bad, underbudgeted and sloppily directed attempts to milk the (then current) cashcow.

L'Ultimo Cacciatore, direcor Antonio Margheriti's first war movie, was a cut or two above the rest, for quzite obvious reasons: Margheriti was probably the best craftsman the Italian cinema ever had, and he always knew to make his movies look good, he always knew how to comptetently (if hardly imaginatively) stage action sequences, and he was very skilled with special effects and model work, things that come in pretty handy when you are about to blow up trains, barracks or jungle villages.

Of course, L'Ultimo Cacciatore lacks the impact and the message of Deer Hunter and Apocalypse Now and invariably favours explicit gore and sensationalist effects over thoughtprovoking concepts (though with the scenes in the cavernous army camp, at least an attempt is made), but at least the film is diligently made, features many fine setpieces and is not quite as much insulting to the audience's intelligence as later war and mercenary films (the second and third part of the Rambo series included).

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
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love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
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a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
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Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD