The Annihilators (1985) – Film Review
Director: Charles E. Sellier, Jr.
Cast: Gerrit Graham, Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs, Christopher Stone
by Sarah Morgan
Unless you’re an expert on low-budget American cinema, chances are you’ve never heard of Charles E Sellier Jr. I like to think I’m pretty clued up about such things, but he was a mystery to me until The Annihilators came my way.
Among the special features on the film’s new bluray release is a documentary about the film-maker featuring an interview with David O’Malley, who worked with him back in the day. Sellier Jr comes across as a kind of low-rent Roger Corman – it seems extraordinary that there could be such a thing, but he nurtured fledgling writers, producers and directors in the same way as Corman did, but on an even smaller budget.
He also didn’t have the same skill level – not if The Annihilators is anything to go by. Where Corman had an artistic streak, as seen in his Poe cycle of films, Sellier Jr appears to be more of a hack.
The film could really only have been made in the 1980s, a time when America was beginning to put the shame of Vietnam behind it and approach the military with more pride and gusto, although funnily enough the story begins in the jungles of South East Asia.
A group of crack soldiers embark on a tricky mission behind enemy lines, during which one of them is left wheelchair-bound after saving his pals from certain death.
Fast forward 15 years or so and the squad members are on civvy street when they hear that the guy who sacrificed himself has been brutally murdered by the ruthless gangsters who had been demanding protection money from him and other businesspeople in the area.
The group gets back together to avenge his murder, tooling up with arms to bring the gang down. What happens next is a pretty violent series of events and the denouement holds no surprises.
Christopher Stone, who made his name appearing in such fare, heads the cast and makes a decent leading man, albeit one who has a very 1980s hairstyle while roaming the Vietnamese jungle – clearly a guy ahead of his time.
Don’t expect to be on the edge of your seat, but it’s entertaining enough if all you’re looking for is a few cheap thrills and aren’t offended by mindless violence.
As well as the documentary about Charles E Sellier Jr there’s an interview with one of the film’s stars, Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs.
Will I be hunting for more Sellier Jr movies? Probably not, but I might be curious enough to tune in if more pop up on TV.
‘The Annihilators’ is released on Blu-ray by Arrow, £24.99