This is one of funniest and enjoyable, cult-driven 78-minutes you’ll enjoy unspooling across the SOV tundras. And it was done to the tune of $1000. Lazarus the Legend is a shot-on-video epic that would have also fit nicely into our “Regional Horror Week,” which ran from Sunday, March 14 to Saturday, March 20 (use our “Search Box” feature to your left to find those films), but since that end of the B&S schedule filled up quickly, this lone feature writing and directing debut by Erie, Pennsylvania’s Matthew Frazzini — since it is a shot-on-video feature, after all — overflowed into our current, September “SOV Week” tribute.
When Lazarus (Dale Crawford) receives a do-or-die challenge from Nick Safara (writer-director Matthew Frazzini), an ancient foe, Lazarus begins his quest in a world where the lines of good and evil blur as he saves the world by acquiring the ultimate power. Lazarus’s sidekick in his fight against Safara’s “Clobbers” is Eva (Frazzini’s sister, Christine Lorraine), a local fortune teller, and his girlfriend, Nina (Patty Colman).
Pour John Carpenter’s Kung-fu/sci-fi action tribute, Big Trouble in Little China (which has its share of fans and detractors; I’m a fan — and no, not because of the Kim Cattrall bondage scene, but because of Kurt Russell’s perfect slices of ham; I’ll watch anything with Kurt, yes, even Escape from L.A. which sucks donkey), dump in Lloyd Kaufman’s 1990 Troma superhero comedy romp Sgt. Kabukiman N.Y.P.D., then smidgens of your favorite Turkish or India ripoffs of American film/TV franchises, then soupçons of Kiss makeup, Star Trek music, and Bruce Lee sound effects. Shake your ’90s Blockbuster Video-logo’d tumbler. Movie served! Gulp the greatest action-comedy ever committed to camcorder. Does this exceed the “heart” of Tommy “The Room” Wiseau that we oft mentioned often around the B&S About Movies cubicle farm — and then some? Oh, yes. And it’s even better than Wiseau’s debut — because, with Frazzini’s debut, the comedy here, is intentional.
Courtesy of his sister and co-star, Christine, in her efforts to satiate fans’ questions about the film, she maintains the film’s IMDb page. So we know that her brother created Lazarus the Legend as a spoof of his fandom of martial arts movies. (Shameful Plug: We love the genre, too. Check out our “Drive-In Friday: Karate Blaxploitation Night” featurette.) She also tells us the cast featured Matthew’s co-workers/friends from the steel mill company where he was a plant superintendent. He produced, wrote, taped, and edited the film in his spare time, which was shot in and around Eric, Pennslyvania — the Bayfront Parkway area in particular, which has vastly changed since the film was shot. And Frazzini’s passions paid off: Lazarus the Legend won the “Best Screenplay” award at the 1993 Hometown Video Festival — against 2,200 films from five countries — in Atlanta, Georgia.
Unlike most SOVs, Lazarus the Legend was never released on VHS or DVD. Outside of the festival circuit, it aired on Erie public access television — only once. The folks at Adjust Your Tracking later came to release in the film in a limited-edition VHS — which includes a newly-produced “Making of” documentary and other Frazzini-produced horror-short films.
However, no worries! You can enjoy this ingenuity-rife, Kung-fu sci-fi-action wrestling comedy courtesy of Vacuum Tube Rescue You Tube — in its original, unedited and full-length state. The commercial-free upload has been online since 2014, so it’s not going anywhere. Enjoy!
Hey, wait! Don’t leave! Come back!
In keeping with the regional wrestling comedy vibes of Lazarus the Legend — and the fact that it also shot in Pennsylvania (well, Eastern, this time) — you may want to check out Masked Mutilator. That film had a 25-year production history that began in 1994 to be completed and release in 2019. Another wrestling-centric — and SOV flick — we reviewed this week is Heavy Metal Massacre (1989). Yeah, we love wrestling-oriented films around the ol’ B&S cubicle farm along the muddy waters of the Allegheny . . . you can catch up with all of our wrestling flick reviews, here.
Sadly, we lot Matthew Frazzini in 2009 as a victim in a car crash. And he left us with this film. And the SOV canons are better for it. Just wow . . . if that doesn’t look like Sam the Bossman in ersatz King Diamond face paint. . . .