Kill Zone (1985) MVD Rewind Collection Blu-ray Review


Two Vietnam vets break out of an experimental prisoner camp and go on the warpath.



You’d think it impossible, but somewhere in Alabama (where this movie was shot), there’s an experimental concentration camp mocked up to seem like a Vietnamese POW prison, complete with a vindictive Vietcong warden (played by Dennis Phun) who tortures the American soldiers who are dying of thirst and desperate to go home. Two of the soldiers – McKenna (Fritz Matthews) and Mitchell (Ted Prior) – are stronger than the rest, but McKenna becomes desperate enough to break free and help McKenna escape, leading the captors on a do-or-die chase through the jungle. As we figure out, these aren’t the jungles of Vietnam at all, but the hillbilly backwoods where an unhinged weekend warrior named Crawford (David Campbell, who reminded me of cowardly Martin Kove in Rambo II) has created for himself a cozy haven to do as he wishes with these soldiers who either want to relive their war traumas or use the torture in the fake POW camp as a way to heal and move past their PTSD. Crawford goes ballistic when McKenna and Mitchell escape, and he throws all his war buddies after them, even a helicopter, to seek and destroy before either of them can get far enough to civilization and get the word out that he’s running a place that should have no reason to exist in the first place. There are hints and flashbacks that Crawford has it out for McKenna in particular (he may have raped and killed his wife and child and taken him captive deliberately), and so McKenna is on the warpath to get revenge on his tormentor.


A do-it-yourself riff on the much bigger hits Missing in Action and Rambo: First Blood Part II, David A. Prior’s Kill Zone is bonkers in all sorts of ways, one being that the character Fritz Matthews plays is everywhere and nowhere at once, a guy who can set traps while dodging bullets, outrun barrages of gunfire, and literally never run out of ammo in his single-clip rifle that he never drops or misfires from but continually magically fires (and hits) everything he aims at. This movie is pure exploitation done on a very small scale, but it’s exactly the sort of thing that fueled video rentals and cable TV airtime for at least a decade, from the early-mid 1980s through the early-mid 1990’s. The score emulates Jerry Goldsmith’s themes for Rambo II, and there are plenty of other cues and references to the first two Rambo films. It’s pure nonsense, but if there’s a place in your heart for these Vietnam-spoitation flicks, then the movie will turn up aces for you.


Kill Zone is MVD Rewind Collection’s 50th release, and it looks really solid in high definition widescreen (the first time this movie has been made available to looks so good), and some with a new audio commentary by the producer and co-writer, plus a making of feature, the full-frame Vestron VHS version, the trailer, and a fold out poster.