(cover scan courtesy The Scandy Factory)
a.k.a. - Thunder, Drug Traffikers
Italy - 1987
Director – Fabrizzio De Angelis
Image Entertainment, 1988, DVD
I had nothing to go on with this film. It was a blind shot, a totally random acquisition circumstantially attached to a triple feature DVD set that I bought in order to see Caged Fury That’s alright though, I love getting random movies I’ve never heard of before, and I do so love surprises. I’m not surprised that the Italians weren’t trying to make a socially conscious film here, but they missed the boat by 8 years if you’re counting the far better but equally exploitive Johnny Firecloud.
Our intro is a wild westish theme, with the ubiquitous brown-hued sandstone plateaus, Juniper flecked hills and empty sky, forlorn harmonica music drives the point home. A long haired kid named Thunder hitches a ride home on a truck and hops off at a gas station where a skeezy sheriff proposes “hose tryout” and a private “pump session” to the girl pumping his gas. Ahem yeah. Speaking to an old “native”, our young lad babbles something incomprehensible with wildly flapping lips, oh, it’s Italian! With a sluggish cheap as dogshit-dub no less. I’m starting to think this is going to be, no, it is definitely going to be trashy Injunsploitation. I know this is not new, it is just so crude that it’s hard to track such overt grab-n-smash back to old John Wayne films.
Or not, thankfully, the Italians leave very little space for intellectual acrobatics. After yakking at the old creasy faced grandpa in dubbed out Italian, Thunder goes to the local Indian cemetery, replete with foam tombstones where he finds a burly construction jerk ready to pour the foundation of a strip mall. In the meantime, he steps out of his Cat to drain the lizard on the sacred ground. Patiently waiting for just such an affront is Thunder who issues a massive face beating a-la stray discarded 2-x-4 before running away when the construction worker cavalry arrives.
In town Thunder goes to the police station to ask the cops to stop construction of the strip mall. (I’m assuming it’s a strip mall because that’s the tackiest building I can think of) Sheriff Cole played by Bo Svenson blows him off and one of the deputies drives the kid out of town and dumps him. I hate to call Bo out, he seems like a decent actor, but damned if every movie I’ve seen him in isn’t total crap. Maybe he was making poor choices because he was all doped up.
On the long walk back, the construction workers show up and lasso Thunder to their jeep and drag him around before kicking hell out of him. The Italians know how to ratchet up an anti-native sentiment to howling crescendo of screaming headline quality racism. In town, Thunder goes to the bank that is funding the construction and when the deputies show up to wreck his day again he beats them senseless. I’m getting the impression that we’re supposed to make a jump in logic here. Either Thunder is a ‘Nam vet, or it’s just natural Indian proclivity to kick serious ass.
Pursuing Thunder, the deputies instigate a manhunt that lasts the rest of the movie, often without Thunder present on screen and during which the caliber of firearms increases exponentially. Frankly as far as guns are concerned this is like the entire Death Wish series concentrated into one big murky Injun Rambo played by a very white Mark Gregory. (Bronx Warriors series and this trilogy and that’s about it) So Basically, it’s a white guy playing a native, aping a white guy. (assuming the reality/cinema continuum is seamlessly joined) Unsurprisingly the cops set grandpa Eagle’s house on fire roasting him alive and later, nearly rape his sister, or anyway, that gas pump girl who hangs around with grandpa Eagle and doesn’t say much.
The final scene is effectively a 10 minute hyperviolent recap of the whole movie into one hugely incinerating awesomesplosion as Thunder drives a front-end-loader into the bank and inexplicably bazookas the vault door over and over. By the time the first deputy shows up, the cops are clearly so horrified at Thunders ability to magically generate bazooka ammo, and his carefree penchant to use it that they all suddenly let him go. This is confirmed by the small blond children wearing warpaint who warble in falsetto adult dubbed voices “Thunder will never die!”, making it white kids playing at being a white guy playing at being a native aping a white man. A premise which is so ridiculous in retrospect that nothing else can explain Cole’s sudden sympathetic turn, except that maybe Svenson really was high as a kite. For the record, whatever he's on would be the only drugs in this movie, I don't know why they retitled it that.