Captives (1988)

Author: Brett H.
Submitted by: Brett H.   Date : 2011-08-24 03:12

Written and directed by: Gary P. Cohen
Starring: Jackie Neill, Neil Cerbone, Art Neill & Zachary Cohen

Reviewed by: Brett H.

"I'll even get laid before I slit her throat!"

The only SOV horror auteur from the 80s I can drop by name is Gary Cohen, director of the Video Violence tag team of schlocky, intuitive slasher films. A diamond in the hazardously rough, so to speak, Cohen made the best use of the home video format I've experienced thus far. Included in the soon to be legendary Basement five film, 3-DVD/big box VHS superset is a rarer film of Cohen's, Captives, which appears to be a take on the rape/revenge cycle with its famous elements toned down more for the crime drama crowd. Cohen has yet to let me down, and I'm on pins and needles to see what this oddity brings to The Basement Collection.

It's a normal day in suburbia, the paperboy is bringing everyone news to go with their coffee, the sun is shining and mothers are taking care of their babies and hustling their husbands off to a long day's work. Somewhere way down the road, the sun shines brightly on a bottle of grain alcohol and a family of deranged sleazeballs also trying to accomplish the goals of the day; in this case, exact revenge on your average every day family. Revenge? Something is amiss as the crazies sneak into the unsuspecting family's home. The housewife is shocked, having no clue just who these people are or what they want. When her mother-in-law stops by for a visit, well, a family's dirtiest piece of laundry is about to be dug up from the muck and hung out to dry...

Captives is by no means as impressive as Cohen's previous films and not near on the same level of violence or parody either. Instead of taking the campy approach, Cohen shoots fairly straight here with a tame I Spit On Your Grave clone for the even lower budget crowd. Psychologically, Cohen's nutty troupe of an incenstuous brother and sister with their kind-hearted, mentally handicapped brother following in their footsteps, are a bit of a mindfuck. Never becoming graphic and never coming through with the greasy aura of rape lingering in the air, Captives still manages one legitimate uneasy scene involving a baby that had me reaching for a bar of soap and maybe some of that delousing powder the guards threw on prisoners in Shawshank. Dialogue heavy, the story is pivotal due to the lack of overt shock (underneath lies quite the den of destruction, though), unfortunately never coming full circle and lacking suspense. The great secret is fairly obvious, realistic and disturbing, but three films in two years may have been a bit much for the schlockmeister.

Available in the top notch Basement set from Camp Motion Pictures, Captives is shown in its intended ratio of 4:3 and looks, well, like it was shot on video. Audio is generally clear and a bit hissy, but presents the sound as nice as it's ever been. A commentary track accompanies the movie and other films in the set include Video Violence, Video Violence 2 and Cannibal Campout; a steal of a deal at a price tag of around $30. Look at Captives as your standard cheapie horror film and it's just okay, but wedged in between these 4 other films it breathes more of a life of its own and adds to the collection's diversity. Captives is a moderately well acted gritty drama/horror/crime chronicle that will impress the curiousos out there seeking a poorer, shot on video Death Weekend. I still remain a Cohen fan and applaud his work here. Any man who can take a video camcorder, amateur actors and a few dollars to create a film I can view without wanting to shut it off, I applaud. Rent it!

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