“Final Payback”video57
Directed by Art Camancho
York Entertainment 1999
102 minutes

by Tammy Wanchena

Nobody’s hitting the snooze button and the alarm clock upstairs wakes up the drunk on the downstairs couch. He staggers up the stairs. His mistress is missing and he can’t recall what happened the night before. He stumbles into the bathroom. There, on the shower floor, the sight of his lover stabbed to death sobers him. He sits down in despair and picks up the knife that obviously killed her. He rubs his fingerprints all over the knife. He jumps up and runs towards the door. Sirens blare. He jumps on his Honda Sabre and the cops follow in hot pursuit. Once again we are reminded, by the miracle of cinema, that “biker equals bad”.

The drunk is Joseph “Joey” Randall, an ex-cop who was screwing the police chief’s wife before she wound up dead. I had a problem with Mr. Randall from the get go. Richard Grieco portrayed him and I ask you, when did Grieco start looking like a puffy faced Latino drag queen? He is so damn homely I had a hard time getting through the film. Of course, that wasn’t my only reason. Final Payback is the perfect cure for insomnia! There were so many things wrong with this movie I don’t know where to begin.

I guess the plot is as good a place as any. Assuming all of my readers will rush to the video store to rent it because of my rave review, I won’t give away the climatic end. You already know how the story begins, so here’s the middle. After giving the cops the slip in one of the most pathetic chase scenes ever (Grieco has yet to master the fine art of counter steering and we suspect he may have been simply posed on a bike atop a trailer), Joey goes home where his best friend, an ex-junkie (all cops befriend junkies) tells him to go hide out at Joey’s ex-girlfriend’s place. Here we have the ridiculous and formulaic scene where the ex-girlfriend’s friend warns her that he’s no good for her, he’s trouble and he will break her heart. Again. And in spite of it all, she lets him move in. Then we discover that the police captain is dirty and kills bad guys. While Joey is supposed to be hiding out, he still frequents all his usual places, including stopping by his apartment again where two masked men try to kick his ass and yell, “where is it?”. Joey takes them both, yet never bothers to unmask them or force them to tell him what they are looking for. I’ll stop here but I will tell you that “it” is videotape proof that the cop is a killer, and the junkie becomes a pawn in trapping Joey. Yes, this film has been done once or twice before but never with acting quite this bad.

Alongside Grieco, we find a cast of characters found in a million other films attempting to be as awful as “Final Payback”. You will recognize them by face, but not by name. The names you will recognize among the cast: Priscilla Barnes, ex-patron of Graceland, Sherrie Rose, worst actress since Wendy O. Williams, and the alkaline battery of actors, Corbin Bernsen. He is Eveready.

This film started me thinking. Who determines whether a video makes it to DVD? I can’t imagine the video got much play and I wouldn’t be surprised if I were the only person who ever rented the DVD. Unless, somewhere out there, sits a lonely drag queen with a big old crush on puffy face. The sacrifices I make for this newspaper…

M.M.M.

 

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