VFW (2019)

A group of veterans go to a new kind of war in this action-horror thriller from the creator of The Last Kids on Earth and director Joe Begos.

Fred is a war veteran who runs the local VFW in one of the worst neighborhoods in the city. An epidemic involving the new drug Hype has resulted in the addicts practically taking over the neighborhood. It has reached a point where law enforcement will not even come. The VFW is the only safe haven for Fred and his fellow ex-soldiers. They include Walter, Abe, Doug, Lou, and Thomas. And this is a very special night because it’s Fred’s birthday.

When Shane, a soldier returning from war, arrives at the bar, he is given a warm reception from the veterans, who welcome him. However, their planned fun night is about to go bad! When Lizard, a young girl, sees her sister dead as the result of Hype, she steals a major stash from the drug dealer responsible, Boz. When Boz discovers the theft, he sends his brother and goons to follow her to the VFW, where he hides out. When the veterans learn what has happened, they must arm themselves and prepare of a new kind of war.

You got to hand it to the combination of director Joe Begos and writers Max Brailler and Matthew McArdle. Brailler is known as the creator of the hit novel series The Last Kids on Earth and to see he took part in this insane homage to grindhouse exploitation films just makes it more the interesting and exciting. From beginning to end, there is a lot of brutality and madness in the film as we see war veterans against a drug dealer and his addict army.

One thing is definitely for sure. Stephen Lang is the man! The veteran actor, who played memorable antagonists in Avatar and Don’t Breathe as well as playing an excellent mentor to the heroic Sunny in Into the Badlands, is awesome to watch as Fred, who is the birthday boy of the group. The group of veterans consist of some excellent talent. William Sadler, known for his role as Death in Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey and Bill and Ted Face the Music, is the outspoken and wily Walter. The legendary Fred Williamson is the no-nonsense Abe. David Patrick Kelly, whose classic line as Luther in The Warriors is the stuff of epic legend, played the token member of the group, Doug. Sensei Kreese himself, Martin Kove, is the rich boy Lou, and finally, Norm from Cheers, George Wendt is Thomas, who is just there for the fun and chaos.

Sierra McCormick’s Lizard is the one who starts trouble but does so out of revenge. When she steals the stash from Travis Hammer’s Boz, that’s when all hell breaks loose. Tom Williamson’s Shane makes a welcome addition as he is just returning from war and now finds himself joining the vets in the fight against Boz and his band of merry drug addicts. The drug addict themselves look like zombies and they are insane alongside Boz’s core henchmen of Gutter, played by Dora Madison; Tank, played by editor/producer Josh Ethier; and little brother Roadie, played by Graham Skipper.

The violence in the film has the feel of a 1970s-era grindhouse exploitation film. Heads get blown off, more heads and torsos get splintered with axes and baseball bats with nails, and even a hockey stick is used along with plenty of firepower and brutality. The grindhouse feel works well here as these war vets have seen the atrocities of war and the brutality that goes with it. So, for these guys, it’s no holds barred, and it is just a new kind of war.

VFW is a fantastic modern day grindhouse flick about the rigors of war and how these veterans engage in a new kind of war with their pride at stake.

WFG RATING: A

RLJE Films and Shudder presents a Fangoria Films production in association with Channel 83 Films, Media Finance Capital, Good Wizard, Voltage Pictures, and Zero Trans Fat Productions. Director: Joe Begos. Producers: Josh Ethier, Amanda Presmyk, and Dallas Sonnier. Writers: Max Brailler and Matthew McArdle. Cinematography: Mike Testin. Editing: Josh Ethier.

Cast: Stephen Lang, William Sadler, Fred Williamson, Martin Kove, David Patrick Kelly, George Wendt, Tom Williamson, Sierra McCormick, Travis Hammer, Dora Madison, Josh Ehtier, Graham Skipper.

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