The Destroyers (Review)
aka The Devastator
Rick Hill as Deacon Porter
Katt Shea as Audrey
Terrence O’Hara as Spencer
Kaz Garas as Sheriff
Jack S. Daniels as Ox
Steve Rogers as Reese
Directed by Cirio H. Santiago
The 1980’s were a heyday of low-budget, direct to video action films imported from overseas to sit on the shelves of video rental places, where they enjoyed a brief stay in the sun before they were buried beneath next week’s batch of cheap films, until they got relegated to the corner covered with dust, and finally sold for $3 when the store goes out of business thanks to the new Blockbuster that opened next door and Joe Sixpack’s preference for 400 copies of George of the Jungle instead of the decent obscure stuff the local houses got in. As these films have a good chance of disappearing off the face of the Earth forever when their tapes rot away, it is important to preserve them in our memories before we think it is but a figment of our Alzheimer’s. Directed by the Director of TNT Jackson who eventually became one of the most prolific directors out of the Philippines. The story of Vietnam Veterans wronged and resorting to their flashback ways and gunning down all who oppose them is a common theme in films from the eighties. (For an example we’ve covered before, see The Exterminator.)
Our star Deacon Porter wakes up after some nasty Nam flashbacks. I am more to suspect that star Rick Hill was having flashbacks of his career of Deathstalker and Deathstalker IV. After some depressing shots of his morning routine showing he’s a lonely loner single guy, but without the characterization or acting skills to pull it off properly, Deacon gets a call from the wife of one of his Nam buddies. It seems said buddy is dead from a suspicious car accident, so Deacon leaves immediately to give a helping hand. Heading to the small California town named King’s Ransom in the boonies (or the small Filipino town playing a small California town) Deacon gets insulted by the gas station attendant babe, yet his trait of asking for directions seems to also score a date with her, she’s named Audrey. The widow Eileen mentions to Deacon the accident that killed her husband was no accident, then the Sheriff of King’s Ransom walks in to give Deacon a hard time for being new to the area. They don’t like outsiders here, it spoils the inbreeding. The Sheriff, who is the B-movie’s answer to Ted Levine, also has to deal with the Growers.
The Growers are the marijuana gang that controls King’s Ransom. We first meet them when they chase a camping couple that has stumbled upon their wild growing crazyweeds, so they hunt the campers down with machine guns, blowing away the male, while running the female over in the highway with three-wheeled motorcycles. An old man stops to see if she is okay, he gets killed as well, and his car is knocked into the lake and he becomes another “accident victim.” Boy, I never knew marijuana was such a lucrative drug opportunity that they could afford a gang with automatic weapons and they need to guard their stash with deadly force. It gets even worse, as later in the movie we see the gang has a giant compound, control of the town as well as some county officials, an army of over 100 men, a helicopter, and more weapons than a public high school. Because it isn’t believable to have a US town growing coca plants, we have to deal with this.
Trouble brews at the bar the widow owns, and we’re shown just how deep into it the Sheriff is. He doesn’t like how far things have fallen, but he knows things would be much worse if he fights them. The local crime lords once again show their odd money vs. spending disparity when the bosses seem to have nothing better to do than to follow Deacon around town staring at him. Why have an army of 100 men or so if you aren’t going to use any of them? It must be the weed affecting their brains. The head of the Growers is John Carey, and his main henchman is named Reese. Reese is only noticeable because he has a thing for Audrey, despite her revulsion at the idea reaching Krakatoan proportions. Reese is also played by Captain America himself, Steve Rogers. Except he’s not blonde, a super soldier, dressed in Red, White, and Blue, or expert with a shield. Deacon is beaten by Growers goons, but is not deterred, and tries to get autopsy reports on his friend’s death. The Growers strike back by torching the bar and burning the widow alive. Deacon barely escapes, he chases them in his car, but is gunned off the road, and his car instantly explodes. Everyone thinks he’s now dead. Of course he isn’t, this movie isn’t that clever.
Enter Act II:
We jump from guy helping his dead friend to Vietnam pals revenge-fest! Vietnam revenge movies were a common site on the video store fields of the 1980s, but development of railroad lines, as well as the repeating rifle, brought down hundreds of thousands of these great beasts. Now, they are available only in nature preserves, special farms, or deep in the prairie. Deacon gets his friend Art Spence, electronics extraordinaire, to help, who also clues in gun dealer Bartlett (who deals in illegal arms to Arabs, something we wouldn’t see in movies today if they were trying to establish a new hero character) and then Spence and Deacon look up Ox. Ox behaves and looks like every “Ox” ever has and ever will in movies. He’s a huge, tough, hairy, eating, drinking man’s man, totally exaggerated in masculinity in every department. He’s completely energetic, over-the-top, and intense. Like Donald Gibb (Ogre from Revenge of the Nerds), were the movie able to afford him. Bartlett won’t help them shoot things up, but says he’ll give them a weapons package later. The team is set, but first, Deacon must reveal to Audrey that he is still alive, so we get us a sex scene with some nudity. Audrey points them out to an abandoned place in the countryside they can use as a base, and the Destroyers set up shop.
The Destroyers start doing some surveillance of the Growers, and sneak around getting info, and knife a few guards in the process. The next day Carrie is complaining that three of his guards have disappeared. The Destroyers never carried off their bodies, so I’m guessing wolves or zombies ate them. Probably zombies. Following this, Bartlett wanders into town, and is immediately set upon by the Growers. He’s sent to the Sheriff’s office, and the Growers start to beat him to get some more information. Meanwhile, the Growers shoot up two trucks full of Growers Goons. The Destroyers find out Bartlett is caught, and they run a night raid on the Sheriff’s office, throwing all the goons in jail, saving Bartlett, and Ox eats the key, so everyone is trapped inside. Deacon has words with the Sheriff, and they run off. The Growers are mad, and they kidnap Audrey, who is still working her job unguarded, because the Destroyers are morons. The Growers blow up her gas station, and find out where the Destroyers are hiding.
The Growers attack the Destroyers’ base. The Destroyers have mines guarding outside, and blow up several invaders. But there are way too many Growers attacking. There must be close to a hundred of them. The number keeps growing! Ha! Ha. Sorry. Watching nameless extras getting gunned down isn’t that exciting. The Destroyers run across an escape bridge, and then blow up the bridge, thus being farther hidden in the forest area. Some of the Growers give chase, and our heroes the Destroyers use their Viet Cong skills to take out the villains one by one. At least it’s more Rambo now, but it’s still not Rambo enough. It’s more like “Hambos.” There are Viet Cong traps all over, we see Growers fall into spiked pits (I wonder if the spikes have feces smeared on them as well for E. coli infections), Growers impaled by spears, Growers hit by spiked logs, and some traps with spiked gates. Sheriff gets annoyed that the Growers are kidnapping people, and threatens Carrie, who then tries to kill Sheriff as well. Sheriff is saved by Deacon and his men, and Sheriff shows them where they are holding Audrey.
The Destroyers now have their attack plan for the Grower base. Ox will burn the giant weed field, Deacon and Sheriff will rescue Audrey, and Bartlett and Spence blow up a dam that will flood the area. As the guards of the weed field are just staring at the weed and not into the forest where attackers would come from, they are all taken out immediately. Ox sets to burning the field: “I love the smell of dope in the morning!” Reese holds Audrey hostage, but Deacon just shoots him and saves her. Carrie escapes into a helicopter, and Deacon jumps on one of the landing skiffs while Sheriff takes Audrey to safety on the other side of the dam. Bartlett and Spence are wiring the dam, and Ox has gotten a hold of a bazooka, and is bazookaing the heck out of the Growers’ men. Why the Growers had a bazooka with hundreds of rounds lying around the weed field? Do they get attacked by tanks every few days? Even the bazooka is not enough to save Ogre, who is surrounded and shot full of holes. Back at the dam, there is a big shootout atop it, as the entire Grower army has moved there. Over 100 people shooting at two Nam vets. Does anyone in the town of King’s Ransom not work for the Growers? Bartlett is hit a few times, and Spence is hit a few times as well. On the helicopter, Deacon tosses a grenade inside and then drops off, falling into the lake that the dam blocks off. The copter blows, and Carrie is dead, the Growers have lost their head. Back below, the dam is blow with the entire Grower army aboard, and they’re all killed. Deacon still lives, as does the Sheriff and Audrey, and even Spence, who I forgot lived until putting the photos up for the site. So it’s sort of happy, but the rest of the Destroyers are destroyed.
Nam vets getting revenge became popular low budget trash during the eighties, with varying quality. Though this read more like an episode of the A-Team, except that people die at the end, and no one says “I love it when a plan comes together” or “I pity the fool!” This was the D-Team (D for Destroyers) and the movie rates a C. It is somewhat entertaining to watch, but once it’s over, you can’t recall any details. If it wasn’t for the notes I took, I would probably have written a jumbled review based on a half-remembered A-Team episode, Rambo, and an episode of Rude Dog and the Dweebs.
Rated 4/10 (Growers kill another, Slick Sheik, Attack the Gas Station, Going for a Ride)
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