Let's talk about William Lustig. His name rarely comes up when people discuss the big directors of the genre. Lustig wasn't a prolific filmmaker, but his movies are pure grindhouse mayhem. No pretensions of style, no arty farty showmanship. William Lustig skillfully made stark, no-frills movies for fans.

Most people know him for Maniac, which is certainly a genre milestone. I like Maniac, of course, but it's a little too mean-spirited to be a real favorite. Relentless is a taut serial killer story with Judd Nelson, who looks like he was deep in his freebase years. Maniac Cop is a good marriage of eighties fun horror and seventies hard sleaze. Uncle Sam is an above-average latter day slasher opus.

My favorite is probably Vigilante, a hard, mean Death Wish clone. You know the drill: Punks have taken over the streets and the citizens must band together to stop them. By any violent means necessary. It's a grindhouse tradition.

Vigilante stars no nonsense Robert Forster as a decent blue collar worker whose wife is assaulted and young son is killed by a shitbag gang. The killers gets off scott-free, while Forster gets prison time for erupting in the courtroom. He emerges from incarceration ready for revenge.

Then you have the real Hammer, Fred Williamson, as a guy trying to keep his home and the streets safe.

Forster, Williamson, and a couple other good guys maim and kill a pimp, a neighborhood drug dealer, a crooked politician, and a corrupt judge. There are no surprises here, but who wants plot twists when you have time-honored gritty street vengeance?

William Lustig also owns and operates Blue Underground, a video distributor dedicated to bringing hard exploitation into your home. The Vigilante Blu-ray looks and sounds better than it has since it was made in 1982. If you're a fan of hard-hitting street movies like Death Wish 3, Vice Squad, Tenement, and Street Asylum, this movie belongs in your collection.

Written by Mark Sieber

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