The TSL Grindhouse: Killing American Style (dir by Amir Shervan)

Filmed in 1988 but apparently not released until 1990, Killing American Style is a low-budget variation on The Desperate Hours.

The film opens with a ruthless criminal named Tony Stone (Robert Z’Dar, of Maniac Cop fame) leading a daring robbery of an ice cream truck depot.  All of the ice cream trucks have come back for the day and, when Tony and the boys show up, the money is still being counted.  Tony quickly takes control of the situation, intimidating everyone with both his weaponry and his amazing jawline.

Unfortunately, for Tony, the robbery is not as successful as he thought.  Yes, he gets away with a lot of money but the police quickly track him down to his home, where he’s in the process of having sex with his stepmother.  Tony is arrested and, in record time, sentenced to a maximum security prison.  (Seriously, the arrest, conviction, and sentencing all seem to happen on the same day.)  Tony is put on a prison bus but then the bus itself stops to help out a stranded motorist.  The motorist turns out to be Tony’s brother, Jesse (Bret Johnston).  In the resulting shootout, all of the guards are killed but Jesse is wounded.  Tony and his associate, Lynch (John Lynch …. hey, I wonder if that’s just coincidence?), take Jesse to a nearby ranch house.

The house belongs to John Morgan (Harold Diamond), who is a long-haired kickboxing champion.  When Tony arrives, John is out of the house and beating up the dad of a kid who bulled Morgan’s son, Brandon.  John is not happy to come home and discover Tony holding his entire family hostage.  For that matter, Morgan’s son isn’t amused by it either.

Because they are being pursued by a grim and determined police detective (played by Jim Brown …. yes, the same Jim Brown who starred in countless blaxploitation films in the 70s), Tony and his men do not want to run the risk of leaving the house to retrieve the loot from the robbery themselves.  So, they send Morgan out to pick up the suitcase from Tony’s stepmother.  I guess they assume that Morgan will be able to move around inconspicuously despite the fact that Morgan is a 6’1 kick boxer with long hair.  I mean, there’s no way that Morgan is going to be able to move around without being noticed by the cops.

Of course, before Morgan can get the money, he also has to get a doctor for Jesse.  Dr. Fuji (Joselito Rescober) agrees to help, despite the fact that he never seems to be quite sure what’s actually going on with all the angry men who keep pointing guns at each other.  When Dr. Fuji mentions that he wants to kill Tony “Japanese style,” Morgan promises that he’s going to kill Tony “American style.”  It’s never really made clear what the difference is between the two styles, though the American version does seem to involve a bit more kickboxing.

Anyway, this is an incredibly cheap and dumb movie but Robert Z’Dar seems like he’s having fun as Tony and …. well, to be honest, Robert Z’Dar is really the only reason to recommend this film.  He gives an enjoyably over-the-top performance, one that certainly contrasts with the more subdued performance of Harold Diamond.  (For his part, Diamond often seems to be struggling to stay awake.)  Hostage movies usually bore me to tears and this one had a lot of slow spots but it also had shots like the one below:

Eh.  Let’s call it even.

One response to “The TSL Grindhouse: Killing American Style (dir by Amir Shervan)

  1. Pingback: Lisa Marie’s Week In Review: 5/15/23 — 5/21/23 | Through the Shattered Lens

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