Enemy Territory

 

Enemy Territory (1987) *****

Pleasantly, this action blast from the heyday of Charles Band’s now-defunct Empire Pictures has been uploaded to YouTube in its entirety for the world’s entertainment and hateful enlightenment. Your humble reviewer finally watched it tonight and can concur with the assessment of Mr. Kersey of SBPDL.

Whereas many street crime films of the 1980s promoted a myth of postracial gangs with no particular color coordination apart, perhaps, from distinctive wardrobe or insignia – with memorable multiracial gangs appearing in such films as The Warriors (1979), Vigilante (1983), Death Wish 2 (1982), Death Wish 3 (1985), Exterminator 2 (1984), and Tenement (1985) – Enemy Territory joins the modest ranks of those relatively few exploitation entries of the period, such as Ghetto Blaster (1989), that tell the truth about the racial alignment of gang activity.

Peter Manoogian’s film follows Jewish insurance salesman Barry Radchik (Gary Frank) as he unknowingly ventures into the heart of a cultish black gang’s turf to collect an elderly lady’s premium and so casually walks right into the Vampires’ “castle”, a dilapidated tenement splattered with glorious 80s graffiti and infested with savages with names like Psycho and Decon.

Enemy Territory VHS cover

 

Barry has hardly set foot in the building before he has somehow managed to offend the delicate, petulant sensibilities of a young black thug (Theo Caesar) and so also incurred the wrath of the hissingly bloodthirsty Count (Tony Todd), leader of the Vampires. Soon every punk in the building is hunting the head of this unwelcome “ghost”.

Thankfully, a few decent blacks come to Barry’s aid, chief among them Vietnam veteran Will (Ray Parker Jr. – in what is perhaps a piece of facetious casting, a “ghost” calls on the aid of the man behind the Ghostbusters theme!). Also livening up the place is Parker (Jan-Michael Vincent), a racist, paranoid, wheelchair-bound gun owner – and, significantly, the only figure the Vampires are known to avoid.

Enemy Territory, with its nocturnal edge, its sense of tension, and scenes of urban siege, savagery, and pursuit, shares some traits with action classics like the original Assault on Precinct 13 (1976), The Warriors (1979), and Tenement (1985), and ought to please admirers of 80s sleaze and suspense. It ups the ante on the aforementioned, however, by spiking its entertainment value with nasty, politically incorrect truth about simmering tribal strife.

Recommended.

SBPDL on Enemy Territory