Ratings Key

= Excellent. The best the genre has to offer.
1/2 = Very Good. Perhaps not "perfect," but undoubtedly a must-see.
★★★ = Good. Accomplishes what it sets out to do and does it well.
★★1/2 = Fair. Clearly flawed and nothing spectacular, but competently made. OK entertainment.
★★ = Mediocre. Either highly uneven or by-the-numbers and uninspired.
1/2 = Bad. Very little to recommend.
= Very Bad. An absolute chore to sit through.
NO STARS! = Abysmal. Unwatchable dreck that isn't even bad-movie amusing.
SBIG = So Bad It's Good. Technically awful movies with massive entertainment value.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Terror on Alcatraz (1986)

...aka: Nightmare on Alcatraz

Directed by:
Philip Marcus

Frank Morris (Aldo Ray), the only man ever to escape from Alcatraz Island (in 1962), is also something of a sadist as demonstrated by a charming opening sequence of him burning his mistress' breast with a lit cigarette and slashing up a former prison guard with a straight razor. Eventually, he follows a tour group to Alcatraz in an attempt to retrieve a key to a safety deposit box full of cash and jewels. Know-it-all Alcatraz buff Greg (Scott Ryder) instantly recognizes him and, along with five other young adults, sneaks back onto the island for a "cell block party" and to find out what Frank might be up to. Frank, of course, is not too happy with the interfering, grabs a butcher knife and starts hacking away. After our heroine Terry (Lisa Ramirez) tricks Frank into falling off a cliff and he's believed to be dead, he turns up again in San Francisco to claim his fortune. 20 minutes later (!!) Frank gets his in a ludicrous, out of left field surprise ending.

Production values are somewhat low and the acting is pretty bad, but the premise is interesting, the gore effects are pretty good and the Alcatraz stalk-n-slash scenes are above average thanks to the historic locations, plus we get a long and informative history lesson on Alcatraz from a tour guide played by Mohammed Ali's wife, Veronica Porsche Ali! Also in the cast are Sandy Brooke (SLEDGE HAMMER) as the mistress and Robert Axelrod as a hotel manager. Clint Eastwood played the same Morris character (albeit a bit different) in 1979's ESCAPE FROM ALCATRAZ. Some sources claim Marvin G. Lipschultz (who has a small role as a policeman) was the co-director on this feature, though he's not credited.


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