The Last Hunter
Italy - 1980
Director – Antonio Margheriti (as Anthony M. Dawson)
Vestron Video, 1985, VHS
Run time - 1 hour, 37 min.
Sometime near the end of the American Vietnam War, in a Saigon strip club a bunch of burnout ‘Nam rats lounge about while local girls wearing next to nothing gyrate lazily. David Warbeck, crustiest of those present, swings in his hammock, smoking and staring into space. When a drunk tries to intimidate him into a confrontation, Warbecks ethereal bitterness and detatchment prove unable to target, and the drunk moves on to the other stereotype, Steve. High strung and high as a kite Steve is more than willing to fulfill the batshit crazy role, and blasts the drunk guy in the face with a pistol before giving himself the same treatment.
During the credits, Warbeck boards a Huey and heads to a hot drop zone where he leaps solo from the chopper armed only with a rifle and a rucksack.Landing in a river he is soon picked up by a small liason team of boonie-rats including Tisa Farrow (fresh from Zombi 2), as a foreign correspondent. Trekking toward Warbecks first rendezvous point the tiny team stumbles repeatedly into multiple ‘Nam movie cliché’s from booby traps to the ubiquitous child-with-grenade trick in a village which the team subsequently reduces to splinters with small arms fire along with said inhabitants. Later that night, much to Warbeck’s disintrest Tisa squeezes out some back-story. He on the other hand can merely fever-dream flashback his motivations –both military and moral (i.e. the plot we've been waiting for) - in a cold sweat, ensuring that the bleeding-heart mothering Tisa will “ironically” fall for the distant wounded warrior.
Arriving at their destination the team discovers another bitter recalcitrant commander and a bunch of stoned demoralized and disheveled loony-tunes GI’s. Warbeck justifies their near-raping of Tisa with the old it’s OK, the war made ‘em do it, it’s not their fault excuse. Just then, the cave is infiltrated by VC and Warbeck easily flips the off the cuff mass-killing switch back on again. He and his surviving team members escape and leap onto a passing boat loaded with other stoned GI’s and shoot them all. Only Warbeck escapes unwounded and returns to the jungle where he is captured and complains bitterly when he ends up being the recipient of strangely familiar mistreatment.
Since director Margheriti made Cannibal Apocalypse the same year, it’s a bit disappointing that Last Hunter is merely typical Italian knockoff trash. Warbeck and Farrow give it some credibility but the plot itself is a lifted and degraded mix of The Deer Hunter and Apocalypse Now. The addition of some effective gore and the subtraction of some logical continuity and all moral message from its influences merely reinforces its base, reactionary, um… ‘Namsploitation.