When I think of the Deuce, I usually think of pimps, hookers, junkies, peepshows, and grindhouse theaters. That’s why I was surprised when RIOT ON 42ND STREET was about a pair of competing variety theaters. Glen Barnes (John Patrick Hayden) gets out of jail after serving a manslaughter beef for killing a pusher in his father’s movie theater. During the opening credits, the cab driver taking Barnes back to his old haunts explains all the lewd activities possible on 42nd street. Barnes takes this in stride, as he has obviously seen all this from growing up in the area.
When he arrives at the theater, he finds that it has been closed down and used as a back alley gambling hall. Barnes quickly begins to transform the run down space into a variety theater featuring a casino, rock and roll band, and striptease dancers. This is all to the dismay of Mr. Farrell (Michael Speero), the owner of the variety theater across the street. Things come to a head on the opening night of Glenn’s new theatre, and inevitably lead up to a Riot on 42nd Street…
Tim Kincaid’s (BREEDERS) film certainly invokes nostalgia for the glory days of the Deuce. However, the spotty continuity and lack of investment in the characters could potentially turn off some viewers. There are plot elements that are introduced but never referred to again. Jeff Fahey (LAWNMOWER MAN) has a small role as a detective but is ultimately wasted. The riot starts for no reasons that I can understand and consists of 30-40 people fighting in a back alley.
Shriek Show provides an adequate full frame transfer that appears pretty dark and befitting of the film’s grindhouse style (possibly a tape transfer). The decent mono audio is surround 2.0, and there are no subtitle options. The special features include "Zerocks! Still a Riot!" (6:44), which is a mildly entertaining interview with the stand up comic featured in the movie. There is also "Death of the Deuce" (2:50), which is an interesting comparison of how the theaters and locations of the Deuce have changed over the decades.
There is also a Grindhouse Trailer Reel that includes the following: REVENGE OF THE ZOMBIES, NINJA STRIKE BACK, BEYOND THE DARKNESS, NIGHTS OF TERROR, EATEN ALIVE!, LAST CANNIBAL WORLD, DR. BUTCHER M.D., WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO SOLANGE?, THE MAN FROM THE DEEP RIVER, BAD GIRLS DORMITORY, SAVAGE ISLAND, NEW BARBARIANS, DIAMONDS OF KILIMANJARO, GOLDEN TEMPLE AMAZONS, THEY’RE COMING TO GET YOU, EMMANUELLE AND THE LAST CANNIBALS, THE HAZING, FLESH EATER, ZOMBI, HITCHER IN THE DARK, HOUSE AT THE EDGE OF THE PARK, SEVEN BLOOD STAINED ORCHIDS, LOVE ME DEADLY. Also, be on the lookout for a Easter Egg found within the extras menu. (Timothy Prime)
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