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Combat Shock (1984)

A dangerously disturbed Vietnam veteran struggles with life 15 years after his return home, and slowly falls into insanity from his gritty urban lifestyle.

Director:

Buddy Giovinazzo

Writer:

Buddy Giovinazzo (as Buddy G)
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Rick Giovinazzo ... Frankie Dunlan (as Ricky Giovinazzo)
Veronica Stork Veronica Stork ... Cathy Dunlan
Mitch Maglio ... Paco - Gang Leader
Asaph Livni Asaph Livni ... Labo - Gang Member
Nick Nasta Nick Nasta ... Morbe - Gang Member
Michael Tierno ... Mike - Junkie
Arthur Saunders Arthur Saunders ... Pimp
Lori Labar Lori Labar ... Lead Prostitute / Vietnamese Woman
Jim Cooney Jim Cooney ... Interogating GI
Ray Pinero Ray Pinero ... Welfare Worker
Leo Lunney Leo Lunney ... Frankie's Father
Eddie Pepitone ... Terry - Strung-Out Junkie (as Ed Pepitone)
Martin Blank Martin Blank ... Doctor
Bob Mireau Bob Mireau ... Security Guard
Tom Desantis Tom Desantis ... Man Behind Frankie
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Storyline

Frankie is a war vet whose life sucks. He has no money, a nagging wife, junkie friends, and a deformed baby. This is the story of one day in his pathetic post-war life. Written by Josh Pasnak <chainsaw@intouch.bc.ca>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Fighting, killing, maiming. Agent Orange and the torture cages were the easy part!...

Genres:

Drama | Horror | Thriller | War

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

14 May 1986 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

American Nightmare See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$40,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (director's cut)

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The wardrobe was purchased from the Salvation Army. See more »

Goofs

When Frankie inspects the revolver drum magazine after loading it, some of the cartridges have a dent in the primer made by a firing pin, meaning that they've already been fired. See more »

Quotes

Frankie Dunlan: I go back there every night, without fail...
See more »

Alternate Versions

Original theatrical version was called "American Nightmares" and is 100 minutes long. See more »

Connections

Featured in The Secret Lives of Dentists (2002) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Sloppily made, but preserves a raw honesty
12 June 2014 | by tomgillespie2002See all my reviews

Certainly lacking in wise-cracking rubber monsters and outlandishly- dressed brain-dead punks, Combat Shock - a serious, if extremely low- budget drama/psychological horror by writer/director/producer Buddy Giovinazzo - proves that Troma Entertainment occasionally took their movies seriously. The shell-shocked Vietnam veteran story had been done many times before, and certainly a lot better, but never quite as unsettling. Far from a masterpiece, and riddled with terrible production values, Combat Shock nevertheless is a glowing statement as to just what scraping-the-piggy-bank film-making can sometimes offer.

After an event during the Vietnam War that left a village dismembered and massacred, Frankie Dunlan (Rick Giovinazzo - brother to Buddy), struggles to adapt to civilian life. Living in poverty, unable to find work, and saddled with a whining wife (Veronica Stork) and a deformed baby, he is about the have the worst day of his life. Owing money to a group of drug-dealing punks, led by Paco (Mitch Maglio), Frankie wanders the battered streets of his native New York, coming into contact with various low-lives and looking for any way to make a buck. Seemingly without hope, and terrified to go back to his starving family empty- handed, he resorts to an act of violence.

You could imagine running a finger along the negative of Combat Shock and immediately needing to wash your hands afterwards. The movie seems awash with grime, and the streets Frankie wanders down have an almost apocalyptic quality. This is utterly depressing stuff, nearly entirely devoid of laughs, where the types of people Frankie befriends are gun- wielding junkies or child prostitutes. It's sometimes laughably pessimistic, a journey into utter depravity, and combined with some extremely amateurish production values and an occasionally plodding narrative, can be a bit of a slog to get through at times.

Yet for all it's sloppy editing and wide-eyed, over-the-top thesping, it is at times extremely effective. The baby, horribly disfigured due to Frankie's exposure to Agent Orange, looks cheap, but the way it moves and sounds, combined with the dump that surrounds it, is just as disturbing as Eraserhead (1977). There is also a horrible moment when a junkie, unable to find a needle for his fix, opens his damaged arm with a coat hanger and pours heroin into his black, bleeding vein. Some will find it's relentless depravity too much to take, but there's a gritty honesty here, going deep into the dark heart of a post-Vietnam America, where traumatised Vets were hung out to dry by a country that had forgotten them.

www.the-wrath-of-blog.blogspot.com


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