As entries into the expanding “Exploitation Cinema Double Feature” line go, this particular outing is a bit of a hard sell. First you have DELIVER US FROM EVIL, a blaxploitation film that doesn’t begin to compete with the entertainment value of its peers, such as SHAFT, FOXY BROWN or DARKTOWN STRUTTERS. The film does however feature enough funky, “what the hell was that all about” moments to warrant a rental. Then you have THE FOX AFFAIR, a picture so horrendously bad that it serves as proof that true evil really does in fact exist, and worse still, its now found a way into your DVD player.
After destroying a film set he was hired to clean up, Chris Townes (Renny Roker, BROTHERS) is sent to a psych ward for evaluation. At least I presume it’s a psych ward, as Chris is forced to wear a straightjacket while talking to a doctor. The setting for their consultation is lit like a discothèque, so they could have just been at a club. Either way Chris is soon released and making his way back into the work force, lands a job as a ditch digger where he is constantly harassed by an old redneck S.O.B. who loves to watch him shovel dirt with his shirt off. Not wanting to be locked away again, Chris bites his tongue and holds back the impulse to crack the old geezer up side his skull, leaving him to take his frustrations home everyday. Chris eventually becomes so irate at the world that when he picks up a young woman named Mindy (Marie O'Henry, DR. BLACK, MR. HYDE) one afternoon, after her car breaks down, he fails to realize the horrible first impression he sets when his anger leads to a lead foot and frazzled passenger. Chris tries to start over with Mindy but she wants nothing to do with him as she currently has enough on her plate. Having dedicating her life to helping the children in her city, Mindy is finding it harder and harder to keep a positive outlook, especially when the local gang refuses to stop corrupting the city's youth with drugs and violence. Discouraged and disheartened, Chris and Mindy find solace in the words and smile of a young handicapped boy named Joey (Danny Martin) but if his message of understanding fails to meet the ears of the masses, then what will become of them and their community?
Released theatrically by Lawrence Woolner’s Dimension Pictures, DELIVER US FROM EVIL is also known under the alternate title JOEY, for which it appeared on a double bill with director Horace Jackson’s other cinematic entry, JOHNNY TOUGH, an urban retelling of Francois Truffaut’s THE 400 BLOWS. DELIVER US FROM EVIL is a movie with a message. Whether or not that message comes across is up for debate but its attempt to reach out to inner city youth is worn clearly on its sleeve for all to see. Rated PG, the picture doesn’t completely forego sex and violence but what exploits are shown are greatly subdued. As such, the picture plays more as an urban after school special than it does a blaxploitation film. When Mindy gets pushed around by a gang of local thugs on the playground, she literally gets pushed around. The ordeal doing little more than ruffling her outfit and ruining her day. The picture does however present several scenes that defy logic and performances, such as Renny’s (a first cousin to Al Roker from “The Today Show”) angst ridden portrayal of Chris, that help to elevate its entertainment value.
THE FOX AFFAIR is a horrible picture with absolutely no redeeming value. I hate to be so blunt, but why beat around the bush? The movie is flat out bad and not in a, “so bad its good way” either. It’s simply just bad. The picture follows two unlikable yuppie businessmen as they go to mediocre lengths in procuring a female capable enough to satisfy the lustful urges of an aging industrialist. Pimping for stock tips isn’t all that difficult but trying to find a young and attractive sexual partner who doesn’t mind dating a (much) older man while ducking the awkward and amateurish antics of a Chinese assassin is… well, actually it’s quite boring. Conveniently the two douche bags stubble across a kung fu fighting metermaid (which sounds promising but trust me, it goes nowhere) who appears to be the answer to both of their problems.
How on Earth did this waste of time and effort find itself a DVD release, and through Code Red no less? Actually, Code Red’s name and logo are nowhere to be found on this release. A wise move as I can’t imagine anyone actually wanting to stake claim or association with this cinematic atrocity. Instead Saturn Productions, which released THE FOX AFFAIR on VHS, gets the credit for upgrading this abomination to the senses to the digital format. Rated R (for retarded), the film does feature some nudity but not from anyone of note and the action, most of which is provided by Young Eagle Kim as “The Hitman”, is pitiful at best.
DELIVER US FROM EVIL is presented in anamorphic widescreen in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio. The print used features a fair amount of wear and tear, included several instances of running green emulsion lines. The image does however look rather sharp, as does the film's coloring, and the Dolby Digital mono does a fine job of the picture's dialogue and soundtrack, though there is the occasional pop. THE FOX AFFAIR is presented full frame and appears to have been pulled from a video tape source. The image is soft, hazy and shakes like my parents Chihuahua. If the film's dialogue, also presented in a mono mix, doesn’t induce a headache, then the frequently wavy image will.
A trailer for DELIVER US FROM EVIL is included along with trailers for DR. BLACK, MR. HYDE, GROUP MARRIAGE, TERMINAL ISLAND, THE WORKING GIRLS, CHEERING SECTION and DEATH FORCE. These trailers vary in quality with several appearing to be taken from tape sources. Each feature can be played by itself or you can select the “Play All” button to watch the films back to back, book ended by the mentioned trailers. (Jason McElreath)
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