The Vindicator Film Review; Revisiting a Cult Classic That Still Kicks Ass

The Vindicator VHS (1986)
Once upon a time I was a 10 year old kid who practically lived at the video store back in 1986. Luckily for me, I had parents who encouraged this type of behavior. But this was a film that I do in fact remember having my mom rent for me upon it's initial home video release, and I remember liking it very much. I have never forgotten about this one though. It's always been stuck in the back of my mind, because I just remember that even as a kid, I thought it was a solid little under-the-radar flick.

A scientist, who's part of a revolutionary team working on a new suit designed to sustain the harsh conditions of Mars, is killed in a laboratory accident. Or at least that's the official report. When he wakes up, he realizes his eyes and brain have been preserved inside this revolutionary and experimental suit. When he escapes, the leader of the team will stop at nothing to get it back.

The Vindicator is 80's B-Movie gold. It really is. I could not have had a better time watching this than I already did. It has everything you'd ever want in this type of feature, and despite it's modest budget and a few shortcomings, it delivers on the promise of that insanely rad cover.

On the production and technical side, it boasts an eclectic behind the scenes crew that is sort of all over the place, yet they all bring their unique strengths to the table. First and foremost, Stan Winston designed the suit, which is awesome. We all know a suit design can make or break the entire film. And when you consider the modesty of the entire budget, we should all be grateful that Winston and his team took the time to take on this little project while right smack in the middle of their winning streak while dealing with huge films like Aliens and Predator. It's directed by Jean-Claude Lord, who gave us the early 80's slasher Visiting Hours, as well as um, Eddie and the Cruisers II: Eddie Lives! The writing team of Edith Rey and David Preston also gave us Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone. So yea, a pretty eclectic bunch to say the least, yet somehow these combined talents do something incredible. They made a film combining elements of Frankenstein, sci-fi, horror, action and drama, and put it all together so well that there's never a dull moment.

It's hard to pinpoint really why it's so good. It just is. Every element brought to the table works, and there's never a dull moment. Hell, even the score is pretty amazing, with it's bits of computer synth! Sure, there are a things you can nitpick to death, like Pam Grier's bounty hunter character not really being all that badass when you get right down to it. In fact, quite the opposite, and a lot of what she does doesn't really make a whole lot of sense. Her name is Hunter, but is that her real name or do they just call her that because that's what she does? And to be quite honest, it's actually a little annoying watching her trying to talk and act tough. It just doesn't come across as genuine. It feels forced and fake more than anything, even if it is nice seeing Pam Grier on the screen.

To date, going on a full 30 years now, The Vindicator has never gotten a DVD release, much less a Blu ray. And as far as I know, it never got a Laserdisc release either. VHS seems to be the only way to go if you want a physical copy of this badass flick, which, as you can see from the image above, looks sweet. The downside to that though is that it often goes for about $20. Well worth the purchase if you ask me, but for those that have a limit on how much they will spend on a tape, that can be a little high. If you're patient, they do pop up from time to time a bit cheaper, but not that often. There are also multiple copies available to watch on YouTube if you just want to do it that way, which I guess would be easier. I don't know what the holdup is on this release though. I don 't know if there are any legal issues tied up to it which prevents companies from touching it. I would love to see this in widescreen someday, so here's to hoping something like Shout! Factor or Umbrella Entertainment picks this up and gives it a proper and much deserved release.

*editors note:
It's funny how my tastes can change. I had actually done a review of this 5 years ago on this blog and my feelings at the time were pretty much that it was just alright, but better than you expect. Flash forward a full 5 years when I revisit it "again", and my enthusiasm is much higher for it. I loved it a helluva lot more this time around. 

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