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Blu-Ray Review: MVD Entertainment’s Kill Zone (Rewind Collection) 

Kill Zone

When a “training exercise” goes too far a Vietnam Vet with PTSD gets into the Kill Zone.  New to Blu-ray from MVD Entertainment

The Film 

“He was one of us… NOW, HE’S THE ENEMY!” 

Kill Zone is the kind of overheated over-the-top post-Vietnam Action film that makes cartoons like Rambo: First Blood Part 2 feel like Apocalypse Now by comparison.  This is the kind of where characters scream other character’s names like Strike Commando and Strike Commando 2 with slightly less artistic grandeur.  Though Kill Zone is not without its charms as it is the kind of lunatic fun that one can only get from a film made in the heyday of 1980s action film golden age of the producer’s singular “cocaine thought process”. 

Set AFTER ‘Nam but still ever present, has a group of elite commandos in a drill so realistic that it causes Mitchell (Ted Prior) to go into a full-on PTSD incident.  It’s all the excuse that Colonel Crawford (David Campbell, looking like Martin Kove’s stunt double) to go full psychopath and sent everyone taking part in the drill to go after Mitchell with a “shoot to kill” order.  The only person that is a voice of reason is Mitchell’s friend McKenna (Fritz Matthews) who understands his friend is deeply troubled in the midst of an episode. 

Kill Zone is a blunt instrument of entertainment.  There isn’t a single subtle thing about the film.  Director David A. Prior subscribes to the louder-is-better on everything.  The result is a film that begins on a 10 and goes beyond the Spinal-Tap“11” to the Strike Commando “12” and stays there for the complete runtime of the film. 

Everything above would make one think that the film is a drag, but anything could be farther from the truth. Kill Zone is entertaining from the opening moments to the perfect time cut to black ending.  The film feels better than it actually is especially during any of the DIY action scenes that actually seem actually dangerous in a real way.  

Kill Zone is for any fan of low-budget action films made in less-than-ideal conditions.  The result is something as wildly inappropriate as it is entertaining.  

The Transfer

MVD Entertainment has created a High Definition (1080p) presentation of Kill Zone in 1.78:1 aspect ratio, scanned and restored in 4K in 2023 from a 35mm interpositive.  The results are an impressive transfer that any fan of this film will be happy to have.  Other than a few minor scratches the film remains consistently clean and beautiful.  The image is sharp with a nice grain structure that gives it the appearance of a 35mm print.  Kill Zone has never looked as good as it does here because of the time and care MVD took.  

The Extras

They include the following;

  • NEW! Audio (plus optional Video Commentary) with producer and co-writer Jack Marino moderated by Cereal at Midnight host Heath Holland.
  • NEW! The Making of Kill Zone
  • Kill Zone: Vestron Video VHS Version 
  • Photo Gallery
  • Original Theatrical Trailer (restored in HD)
  • 2-Sided Artwork
  • Collectible Mini-Poster

The all-new Audio with an optional Video Commentary component with producer and co-writer Jack Marino moderated by Cereal at Midnight host Heath Holland begins with introductions and Marino admitting that he never thought the film would not be released on Blu-ray.  Some of the details include the formation of the production company Spartan Films and how it came together between Marino and director David Prior; a future Academy Award winner who worked on the film; a detailed discussion of how the structure and twist came about in the screenplay’s first act; how they got the financing for the film – a larger discussion of aspects of the harder work like accounting, taxes, securing financing; cost-saving measures like doing craft services himself – with the aid of his wife; a deal that gave them cases of free Shlitz’s Beer; the various production locations they used in Malibu, and the San Fernando Valley; a side conversation about the other film’s he produced and what his terms for success are/were; how beneficial the VHS / Video Boom was for the film; how Deadly Prey is an unofficial sequel to Kill Zone; a larger discussion of the success and if he wanted to make an official sequel; and much more.  Holland does a great job of guiding the commentary track with Marino providing very a-typical information which is a goldmine of practical producing information. 

The Making of Kill Zone (37:52) – the all-new interview with co-writer and producer Jack Marino moderated by filmmaker and project producer Steve Latshaw though labeled a “making of” feels more like an interview where the two go through the various details of the production.  Some of the details include the origins of the film and the beginning of API (Action Pictures International); the excitement and rarity of the title even on VHS; the creation of the production company; and more.  The duo is seated side by side as they discuss the film and the interview does include some of the production photos from the shoot.  There is some overlap from the commentary track but some elaboration by Marino on those overlaps.  

Kill Zone: Vestron Video VHS Version (89-minutes, 1.33:1) – MVD like they had previously on Witchboard has included the VHS iteration of the film as a bonus feature!  This VHS version is everything you would want from a crappy VHS version ported over to Blu-Ray with the feature presentation in the Standard definition 1.33 window box of the blurry image quality that it was initially released in.  This bonus feature will give anyone an appreciation of just how much work went into restoring this film and how good transfers have gotten since the VHS days.  Bonus points for MVD including the old Vestron Video logo!

Photo Gallery (1:41) – the gallery consists of 20 production stills, behind-the-scenes photos, and poster art.  The gallery plays automatically with the film’s score in the background.  One fact pause on the images but cannot navigate them.  

Original Theatrical Trailer (3:04) – which has been restored in HD and looks as good as the film itself.  Also included are trailers for other MVD Rewind Collection titles: Action USAL.A. WarsShowdownAngel TownMy Samurai

The Final Thought 

Kill Zone is for the low-budget action aficionado.  Highest Possible Recommendations!!! 

MVD Entertainment’s Blu-Ray edition of Kill Zone is out now

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