DEADLY GAME SHOWS: Deathrow Gameshow (1987)

I hate Troma movies. I don’t give a fuck who gets upset by that fact. They’re puerile and poorly produced pieces of pablum. And if they were created to be real movies instead of with an eye to be goofy, I’d probably like them. I mean, I love Burial Ground, but I don’t think anyone set out to make that movie as a meta-commentary on the state of horror. Other than the original The Toxic Avenger, I’ve disliked every film they’ve upchucked out. And sadly, I feel the same way about today’s film (which isn’t a Troma film, but sure feels like one).

At LA station KSIK, the top-rated show is John McCafferty’s (no Beaver Brown Band) Live or Die. Condemned death row prisoners are given one last chance to entertain the masses before they get executed, as well as the chance to win prizes for their families. People love to watch it, but also love to tell McCafferty how much they hate the show (this was a surreal Matrix glitch deja vu moment watching this post The Gong Show Movie).

The problems start when the Spumoni crime family is offended when their boss is executed in a game where wires are hooked to his penis while a sexy girl dances for him. Only when McCaffrey touches the man’s shoulder does he become erect and die. They send Luigi Pappalardo, the best hitman in the world, to kill the host. Things get worse when Luigi’s mom wanders onto the set and is killed.

Note: Luigi is played by an actor named Beano. Yes, that is his name.

Meanwhile, our hero is in love with Gloria Sternvirgin, a member of Woman Against Anything Men Are For. She’s against his show until she’s in danger of being killed, of course.

Along the way, there are TV commercials and cutaways to other happenings at the TV station. This would work much better if the film were in the hands of a Paul Verhoeven (see Robocop or Starship Troopers). Or even Weird Al. But here, the cheapness and lack of talent — look, these are never usually bad things, but here they were grating — becomes apparent.

What also hurts the film is that it sets you up to see comical gore and then delivers it off camera. The only disgusting thing about this film is watching the hitman eat throughout.

Sorry you didn’t win, Deathrow Gameshow. But hey, you don’t go home empty-handed. Tell them what they’ve won, Johnny!

“A year’s supply of…”

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