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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Fortress of Amerikkka
Fortress of Amerikkka
Troma // R // March 30, 2004
List Price: $19.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Bill Gibron | posted April 1, 2004 | E-mail the Author
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Sometimes, there is nothing more satisfying than a nice juicy slab of good old American B-movie cheese. You know the kind: dripping with silly storylines, alive with craven creature cultures and filled with enough boobs, blood and body parts to give off an aromatic fog of fromage that sends your bad tastes buds into spiraling sensations of salaciousness. Get some flesh-craving aliens or a student-stalking serial killer, mix with a bunch of fake-breasted models that can't keep their bras on and top it all off with dialogue straight out of a Romper Room class and the atmosphere is heady with hilarious highlights. And at first glance, it looks like Troma's Fortress of Amerikkka is going to be a fragrant frappe of crappe, over-ripe with rude, randy ridiculousness. This Red Dawn rip-off, featuring one of the most absurd plots ever to plop out of Lloyd Kaufman's video cesspool, has all the trapping for a Roqueforting good time. Too bad the movie sucks like spray cheese...or should that be imitation spreadable processed faux food. Even with warring armies, relentless cruelty to all races, women with boob jobs they should sue over and a jingoistic patriotism straight out of the John Birch Society, the movie just doesn't work. It's too ambitious, too caught up in its own freedom and constitutionality convolutions to deliver the exploitation excesses. Where it should really soar it's painfully sore and when the whole mishmash could turn into a plucky satire on militias and military machismo, the movie merely meanders. Madison Avenue warns about the power of cheese. Perhaps they should also caution against the lame-ass lack thereof.

The DVD:
Tromaville is the setting for a battle between good, evil and those who couldn't give a squat either way. Johnny Whitecloud, half Squanto, half cigar store statue and recently released from prison, is back in town to give the locals conniptions. Seems he and his now dead brother were the bane of the crocked sheriff's existence, and now he wants a little peace pipe payback. It was the long arm of the law that cut down Johnny's sibling and, well, you know how people hold grudges. But there is a bigger issue brewing on the outskirts of town. A local bunch of mercenary loonies, known as the Fortress of Amerikkka, have been spending their slipshod war games murdering innocent people. Apparently, this ragtag group of about 15 is going to take over the USA, a single small Northwestern one-horse town at a time. What slaughtering civilians and bimbos have to do with their overall assault plan/crackpot coup de tat is anyone's guess. Eventually, the town grows sick of being sitting ducks and they arm themselves to stage an uprising. But this is one battle that Ken Burns won't be commemorating as historically significant. Hysterically stupid, maybe.

Fortress of Amerikkka is a lot like that new software you just bought for your computer. The packaging tells you that it's compatible with your system and needs. The disc loads satisfactorily and the contents unfold before your eyes in a pleasant manner. Time goes by and nothing much happens. Then the first crash occurs. You reboot and try again. The system overloads and the "blue screen of death" appears. You get angry and aggravated. You toss various and sundry items around your office. You decide on a complete uninstall, hoping that a final, fresh go around will solve all your bugs and glitches. But no, the malfunctions still erupt and after what seems like hours of effort, you just give up. Fortress of Amerikkka is such a stunted showcase of unabashed boredom. Crafted by the same unsane, crazed mind behind such Tromatic treats as Lust for Freedom and The Class of Nuke 'em High II, Eric Louzil's lousy little battle bull spunk should have been a glorified trip into Camp Carnal. It promises to merge with your appreciation for mindless sex and violence and leave you gasping for more gore. But even when its killing skate rats or sea shell collecting brats, this movie can't win you over. No elephantine tits with silicon sacks the size of shuttlecrafts or bloody bodies littered with squibs will get you to forgive how this hackjob squanders its potential.

See, there are B-movie basics that must be followed, certain routine requirements that should be apparent less your foray into foolishness be labeled as such. First and foremost, no low budget balderdash should clock in at over 90 minutes. Heck, even at an hour and a half, you're really pushing things. Scientists have proven, through careful scrutiny and a lot of lonely, dateless nights that the perfect ratio of time to title is about 79.654 minutes. Fortress of Amerikkka clocks in at near 104 sixty-second clicks. So, you may be asking yourself, what does this mean to me, the discriminating viewer? More moments of glorious gore? More femme fatales flexing their inflated upper facades? A better opportunity to see great acting by skilled performers? Sadly, the answer is less than agreeable. Pointless and predictable padding is what makes up most of these bonus bits. Instead of hot whores doing the dirty dog, we get endlessly droning conversations about revenge and raising dishonored spirits from the dead. Where a decapitation or a disembowelment would have been welcome, our offering is instead brimming with pointless portions of the military men in ersatz combat readiness, which apparently consists of drinking beer and cavorting like sailors on shore leave. There are more musclemen than miscreant madness in this movie, and that can't be a good thing. It's all too much shrill set up for too little passable pay off.

Another rule of tacky thumb that Fortress messes up is the all-important sin of skin dimension. Now, everyone knows that the only good boob is an exposed one, and that if you are going to have your dames drop blou for the sake of a shot, you better make it (and the accompanying "them") well stacked and worthwhile of ogling. So it's a crime against God and man...well, mostly man that the enhanced honeys in this film look like misfits from the Island of Dr. Moron. A call girl doing her duty for her country has a couple of hangers that look like she's carrying burlap sacks of steelies to a swap meet. Another little gal sends her top tumbling and the hideousness of her half moon mammaries is enough to have you rethinking the whole breast implant ideal all together. Indeed, fastened to her chest like a divided diving bell and so rock solid that the army men consider repelling off them, this actress' assets will be pointing the way to the beach from beyond the grave. Fortress of Amerikkka just doesn't understand that Jello Biafra was right: there are such things as plastic surgery disasters. No, they show us the regional rack foul-ups with skeezy unease. And the lack of truly luscious lady lumps is quite disheartening.

But perhaps the most miserable violation of the directives for drive-in daffiness is the boring, borderline bashful bloodletting that passes for action here. If Fortress of Amerikkka had decided that, beyond overstaying its cinematic welcome and providing us with horrendous hooters, it really wanted to Savini up the place with lots of blood packs, you wouldn't hear a single bad movie fan complaining. Grue is the glue that holds even the most miserable pile of preposterousness together. No one needs logic and drama to dig Bad Taste or Brain Dead (a.k.a. Dead Alive). All you have to do is augment the action with autopsy like organ offal and the enthusiasts will favor you with fondness forever. But Fortress of Amerikkka can't support its slaughtering. The best they can come up with is the occasionally red ink rampage and gun blast sanguinity. Sure, when the stupid skateboarder (who is about 9) says "Hey Dude" and gets his innards handed to him in a spray of small weapons fire, we enjoy the outrageous rottenness. Another local lovely has a campus carve up and the slasher shivers are satisfying. And when our zero-hero finally gets the head of the forces in a neck lock, his throat slitting sawblading is something to savor. But the claret is kept in check and never comes pooling in the necessary fluid fountains. Because this movie bites the big one in so many other areas, it need volcanoes of vein juice just to be bearable. But Fortress can't even send us some human soup. After a couple of quick spurts, it shuffles off like a cheap lover, leaving us very unsatisfied.

See, the plot, and all of its political corruption in crisis dynamics, is not important. Nor is the awful wooden acting of the cast. To call this a cop of the John Milius communism caper from 1984 (Fortress was stillborn five years later) is to turn Patrick Swayze into a solider of Stanislavsky. Everything in Fortress should merely be fuel for the fire of supposedly filthy fun. They are theoretically sacrificing their shortcomings for the sake of a good old Gouda of a time. But cinematic cheese is a very tricky mix, and if something goes out of whack, the Brie goes brackish and the Limburger stays limp. Had Eric Louzil tightened up his narrative, editing out the excesses and providing plentiful pleasant pulchritude and gallons of gore, Fortress of Amerikkka would have been decent. Not great or even good, but worthy of wasting a Friday evening on. But with his movie mania in overdrive and his head in a geo-political treatise instead of a story of vicious, villainous vice, Louzil loses control of the chaos and his film crashes and burns. Even with characters saluting our democracy in overlong preachy soliloquies, this whole entire mess is a crowd wheezer, not pleaser. There must have been a message behind this dumb diatribe on both the country and its craving for cheesy films. But aside from the obvious admonitions of avoiding certain cosmetic surgeons, never living in a small town in the Pacific Northwest, and understanding that local law enforcement couldn't give a gonad about due process, the significance of this stupidity is anyone's guess. Fortress of Amerikkka is kkkruddy and kkkompletely kkkheddar-less.

The Video:
If you want to recreate the home video explosion of the early 1980s in all of its full screen VHS vomiting, simply slide the DVD of Fortress of Amerikkka into your player, get a Bartles and Jaymes wine cooler and enjoy. All aspect ratio issues aside, the film looks old and murky. Occasionally, the clarity of the new found digital domain hits the screen, allowing us to see a more detailed version of this entertainment vacuum. But mostly, Fortress of Amerikkka looks like its been kicking around the TV trenches far too long.

The Audio:
With a soundtrack only a member of the Trickster fan club could love, Fortress of Amerikkka makes a lot out of its sonically selective Dolby Digital 2.0 offering. Voices are clear and usually distortion free. So is the background rock and roll. But occasionally, the aural aspects are flat and lacking depth. While its expecting a bit much of Troma to treat their vault volumes with a little more respect, its also hard to see how a remastered soundscape would help this film. The problem is in the story it presents, not the ear essence.

The Extras:
Thankfully, Troma doesn't overload this disc with digital goodness, meaning you have to spend far less time with it than you'll ever really want to. Lloyd Kaufman is back again with a very short and kind of stupid intro to the film. It really does nothing to sell it. Neither does Purple Pam; here again to show why funk-punk-metal is as dead as Wendy O. Williams. The rest of the residuals are Troma specific trailers and merchandising ads. Overall, this DVD package is nothing to get excited about and is definitely derivative of every release from this company.

Final Thoughts:
Nothing sucks more than getting all hyped up for a really bad cheese fest and having the fondue turn into a fun-don't right before your eyes. There is so much wasted potential in Fortress of Amerikkka its like visiting you're average class of high school seniors. It had so much going for it, but fumbled the forward pass near the end zone and ended up being the goat instead of basking in gangrenous glory. Eric Louzil obviously loves his homeland and wants to wrap his warped war movie in a fragrant flag of outright patriotism so that no one can ever question his angry allegiance. And the Fortress forces themselves do hint at how absolute power corrupts a bunch of jarhead jerks. But we want the makings of Munster and we want them NOW! This movie should just stop stalling, stop layering on the loyalty oaths and ridiculous race baiting (can a Native American really be called the "N" word?) and do what B-movies do best: bathe the boobies in blood. Instead of skipping to the chase, we should avoid its action film antics all together and get to the snuff and shorthairs. There may be some of you in the audience for oddities that will be more forgiving to this miserable misfire. But Fortress of Amerikkka stands for the proposition that even the more determined democratic drivel will sink like the Bismarck if its not supported by a bevy of bare babes and some viscous vats of vivisected vitals. This land may indeed be your land, but it's hard to imagine anyone claiming this claptrap salute to it anytime soon.

Want more Gibron Goodness? Come to Bill's TINSEL TORN REBORN Blog (Updated Frequently) and Enjoy! Click Here

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