Thou Shalt Not Kill…Except (1985)

Like many horror fans, I cut my teeth on the Evil Dead Trilogy. I was obsessed with the films and showed them to anyone I could.  There’s something special about those flicks. Charismatic Bruce Campbell, the unique storyline, the mix of humor and gore, humor and horror. They’re just the perfect gateway into cult horror. There was a time when I would watch anything with good ole Ash in it and to this day the films hold a special place in my blackened heart. Of course I tracked down Intruder, Crimewave, Mindwarp and anything else that had the Raimi/Campbell stamp on it. Somehow though, Thou Shalt Not Kill…Except slipped under my radar. Thanks to Synapse and their amazing restoration I can finally fill a long empty hole in my Evil Dead puzzle.

In a nutshell, Thou Shalt Not Kill…Except is as the film makers call it, “marines vs the Manson family.”  John Stryker, our hero, is injured in the ‘nam and lives alone in a cabin drowning his sorrows. His old friend Otis introduces him to his grand daughter and a spark of love and life is rekindled in Stryker’s heart. Of course some crazy biker/hippies kidnap her and kill Otis. So, it’s up to Stryker and his old marine buddies to hunt down the weirdo’s and shoot em in the face.

So how’s the film? Well, rough, ugly but satisfyingly violent. The film lacks the slick(er) production of other Evil Dead alums but after the last half hour of solid carnage, I honestly don’t care. The film is sloppy and poorly acted, but again the action at the end makes up for all of the film’s shortcomings. Did I mention Sam Raimi hisownself plays the Manson character? Yeah, he does. And he’s great. It’s a gritty little flick that survives on it’s bloody third act and comes through a champion. I had a blast watching this, so much so that I immediately watched the 48 minute Super 8MM version of the film afterwards. The Super 8MM version, included here, looks and sounds great and in some ways is actually superior to the bigger budget 16mm version. And it stars Bruce Campbell as the lead and he’s at his best here. He delivers the goods in the way only he can. The disc also contains commentary as well as a 30 minute doc with the cast members.

Truly this Synapse edition of Thou Shalt Not Kill…Except is the best looking out there with great special features and killer art. Another home run.