Thou Shalt Not Kill... Except

Last updated
Thou Shalt Not Kill... Except
Thou Shalt Not Kill Except.jpg
DVD release cover
Directed by Josh Becker
Produced by Shirley Becker
Scott Spiegel
Screenplay byJosh Becker
Scott Spiegel
Story byJosh Becker
Bruce Campbell
Sheldon Lettich
StarringRobert Rickman
John Manfredi
Timothy Patrick Quill
Sam Raimi
Ted Raimi
Music by Joseph LoDuca
CinematographyJosh Becker
Edited byJosh Becker
Production
company
Action Pictures
Renaissance Pictures
Distributed by Film World Distributors (US)
Release date
  • October 13, 1985 (1985-10-13)(Warren, Michigan)
  • May 21, 1987 (1987-05-21)(West Germany, Japan)
Running time
84 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$200,000

Thou Shalt Not Kill ... Except, also known as Stryker's War, is a 1985 American action horror film directed by Josh Becker and starring Robert Rickman, John Manfredi, Tim Quill, Cheryl Hausen, Perry Mallette and Sam Raimi. It was written by Becker and Scott Spiegel from a story by Becker, actor Bruce Campbell, and Sheldon Lettich.

Contents

The cast of the film consists largely of unknowns, because most of the smaller roles are filled by Becker's friends and relatives. Some, however, have been featured in other films, largely those produced by Renaissance Pictures or otherwise involving Sam Raimi, Bruce Campbell or Josh Becker.

The film held its premiere in Warren, Michigan on October 13, 1985, and was later released to video in West Germany and Japan on 21 May 1987, followed by Canada on March 31, 1999. [1] The low budget film is fairly obscure, but maintains a small following as an underground cult classic.

Plot

Having come home after half of his squadron was killed during the Vietnam War, Sergeant Jack Stryker (portrayed by Brian Schulz), given an honorable discharge due to his injuries, attempts to get his life back together. Finding himself reunited with an old girlfriend, Sally (Cheryl Hausen) and his war buddies, he feels he may have successfully re-established his life. However, this happiness is quickly cut short when a murderous cult led by an enigmatic but unnamed Charles Manson-like figure, portrayed by director and writer Sam Raimi, comes into town to continue their rampage.

After Sally is tortured and Stryker and his compatriots find the cult torturing police officers near his house, they arm themselves up and decide to - as the trailer puts it - "break the laws of both God (the title is a reference to one of the Biblical Ten Commandments) and man" and fight back. What follows is a war between the two groups, ending in numerous deaths, including the cult leader's; the exchange between the cult leader and Stryker is as follows:

Cult leader: "I am Jesus Christ! Stryker: "No, you're not you're dead.

Upon which Stryker shoots Raimi's character in the chest, and he careens into a river, eventually being impaled on a motorcycle, and their brutal war is ended.

Cast

Stryker's group

Cult Members

Others/Uncredited

Production

Thou Shalt Not Kill... Except was originally produced in 1980 as a Super-8 film entitled Stryker's War, designed to get interest from investors; Campbell and Becker drafted the story ideas while returning home from the Tennessee set of The Evil Dead . The interior sets were primarily Bruce Campbell's garage in suburban Detroit, Michigan, dressed up as either a military base or Stryker's house. The Vietnam scenes were filmed in Hartland, though the overhead shots consist solely of stock footage.

Bruce Campbell also served as assistant sound editor on the film, where he re-used many of the Foley effects created for The Evil Dead. The film's release was, like The Evil Dead, handled primarily by press agent Irvin Shapiro. Shapiro suggested the final title, over Becker's objections; this is similar to Shapiro's summary retitling of The Book of the Dead to The Evil Dead.

Release

Thou Shalt Not Kill... Except was given a limited release theatrically in the United States by Film World Distributors in 1985. [2]

The film was released on VHS by Starmaker Video in the late 1980s. It was later released on DVD in the United States by Anchor Bay Entertainment in 2002. [3] This version is currently out of print. On April 10, 2012 Synapse released a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack of the film containing a new transfer and extras.

Legacy

Following

A small but devoted cult following has arisen around this film. Josh Becker's website is notable for comments of some fans of the film, who hail it as one of the great works in American filmography. Some groups have even devoted significant new artwork to the film, including reimaging the soundtrack, re-editing the film and other "tributes". One of the best known fans group, based in Stockton, California, have commemorated the film through communal art projects, featuring extravagant parties to debut their creations; a tradition that has now lasted over 15 years.

The dialogue between Stryker and the cult leader - where the latter declares: "I am Jesus Christ", and Stryker retorts: "No you're not...you're dead" - is sampled at the beginning of the Entombed song Out of Hand, from the album Wolverine Blues .

Related Research Articles

<i>Army of Darkness</i> 1992 film by Sam Raimi

Army of Darkness is a 1992 American comedy horror film directed and co-written by Sam Raimi, co-produced by Robert Tapert and Bruce Campbell and co-written by Ivan Raimi. Starring Campbell and Embeth Davidtz, it is the third installment in the Evil Dead franchise, and a sequel to Evil Dead II, and follows Ash Williams (Campbell) as he is trapped in the Middle Ages and battles the undead in his quest to return to the present.

Bruce Campbell American actor

Bruce Lorne Campbell is an American actor, voice actor, producer, writer and director. One of his best-known roles is Ash Williams in Sam Raimi's Evil Dead franchise, beginning with the 1978 short film Within the Woods. He has starred in many low-budget cult films such as Crimewave (1985), Maniac Cop (1988), Sundown: The Vampire in Retreat (1989), and Bubba Ho-Tep (2002).

<i>The Evil Dead</i> 1981 American supernatural horror film by Sam Raimi

The Evil Dead is a 1981 American supernatural horror film written and directed by Sam Raimi and executive produced by Raimi and Bruce Campbell, who also starred alongside Ellen Sandweiss and Betsy Baker. The film focuses on five college students vacationing in an isolated cabin in a remote wooded area. After they find an audio tape that, when played, releases a legion of demons and spirits, members of the group suffer from demonic possession, leading to increasingly gory mayhem.

<i>Evil Dead II</i> 1987 film by Sam Raimi

Evil Dead II is a 1987 American comedy horror film directed by Sam Raimi, and a parody sequel to the 1981 horror film The Evil Dead. Written by Raimi and Scott Spiegel, Evil Dead II was produced by Robert Tapert and stars Bruce Campbell as Ash Williams, who vacations with his girlfriend to a remote cabin in the woods. He discovers an audio tape of recitations from a book of ancient texts, and when the recording is played, it unleashes a number of demons which possess and torment him.

Sam Raimi American film director, producer, writer and actor

Samuel M. Raimi is an American filmmaker, actor, and producer, primarily known for creating the cult horror Evil Dead series, and directing the Spider-Man trilogy (2002–2007). He also directed the 1990 superhero film Darkman, the 1998 neo-noir crime-thriller A Simple Plan, the 2000 supernatural thriller film The Gift, the 2009 supernatural horror film Drag Me to Hell, and the 2013 Disney fantasy film Oz the Great and Powerful. Raimi has also produced several successful television series, including Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and its spin-off Xena: Warrior Princess. He founded the production company Renaissance Pictures in 1979.

<i>Within the Woods</i> 1978 short film directed by Sam Raimi

Within the Woods is a 1978 horror short film written, directed and produced by Sam Raimi. Raimi drew inspiration from his earlier short film Clockwork, deciding to produce a proof of concept horror film to help build the interest of potential investors. Raimi cast his friends Bruce Campbell and Ellen Sandweiss as the two protagonists and produced the film for $1,600. Shot on location in a remote cabin in the woods, production was a difficult process because of the low budget. Several of the special effects presented in the film were done in a severely low budget manner, some of which were improvised on set. The film centers around demonic possession and mysterious forces originating from the woods.

Ash Williams fictional character from the Evil Dead series

Ashley Joanna "Ash" Williams is a fictional character and the protagonist of the Evil Dead franchise. Created by Sam Raimi, he is portrayed by Bruce Campbell and is the only character to appear in each entry of the series, including a post-credits cameo in the soft reboot film. Throughout the series, Ash faces off against "Deadites", evil creatures possessed by the ancient evil of the Kandarian Demon. In 2008, Ash was selected by Empire magazine as the 24th greatest movie character of all time, and in 2013, was voted by Empire as the greatest horror movie character ever.

<i>Crimewave</i> 1985 film by Sam Raimi

Crimewave is a 1985 American comedy film directed by Sam Raimi, written by him and the Coen brothers, and starring Louise Lasser, Paul L. Smith, Brion James, Sheree J. Wilson, Edward R. Pressman, Bruce Campbell, and Reed Birney, with Campbell also serving as a producer. Following the commercial success of The Evil Dead (1981), Raimi and Campbell decided to collaborate on another project. Joel Coen of the Coen brothers served as one of the editors on The Evil Dead, and worked with Raimi on the screenplay. Production was difficult for several members of the crew, and the production studio, Embassy Pictures, refused to allow Raimi to edit the film. Several arguments broke out during the shoot for the film, because of continued interference by the studio.

Robert Tapert American film producer

Robert Gerard Tapert is an American film and television producer, writer and director, best known for co-creating the television series Xena: Warrior Princess.

<i>My Name Is Bruce</i> 2007 American film directed by Bruce Campbell

My Name Is Bruce is a 2007 American comedy horror film directed, co-produced by and starring B movie cult actor Bruce Campbell. The film was written by Mark Verheiden. It had a theatrical release in October 2008, followed by DVD and Blu-ray releases on February 10, 2009.

<i>Evil Dead</i> film franchise

Evil Dead is an American supernatural horror film franchise created by Sam Raimi consisting of four feature films and a television series. The series revolves around the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis, an ancient Sumerian text which wreaks havoc upon a group of cabin inhabitants in a wooded area in Tennessee.

Josh Becker American film and TV writer and director

Joshua Matthew Becker is an American film and television writer and director whose credits include episodes of Xena: Warrior Princess as well as collaborations with Bruce Campbell and Sam Raimi.

Renaissance Pictures Film production company

Renaissance Pictures is an American film production and television company. It was founded by director Sam Raimi, producer Rob Tapert and actor Bruce Campbell, with help from publicist Irvin Shapiro, on August 10, 1979 to produce their film The Evil Dead, along with its sequels Evil Dead II and Army of Darkness.

<i>Its Murder!</i> 1977 film by Sam Raimi

It's Murder! is a 1977 feature-length movie shot on Super 8 film directed by Sam Raimi while he was still in college. It was co-written and produced by Raimi and Scott Spiegel, and stars both Raimi and Spiegel. Raimi's first directorial work, it co-stars his frequent collaborator Bruce Campbell.

Sheldon Lettich is an American screenwriter, film director and producer. He is best known for his collaborations with Jean-Claude Van Damme and his work in the action film genre.

Irvin Shapiro was an American producer, film importer and distributor who was responsible for introducing a number of influential foreign films to the United States, as well as handling the early work of some noted directors.

Cleveland Smith: Bounty Hunter is a 1982 short film written and directed by Josh Becker and starring Bruce Campbell.

<i>Evil Dead</i> (2013 film) 2013 film by Fede Álvarez

Evil Dead is a 2013 American supernatural horror film directed by Fede Alvarez, in his feature directorial debut, written by Rodo Sayagues and Álvarez and produced by Robert Tapert, Sam Raimi, and Bruce Campbell. The fourth installment in the Evil Dead franchise, it serves as a soft reboot and continuation of the original 1981 film. The film stars Jane Levy, Shiloh Fernandez, Lou Taylor Pucci, Jessica Lucas, and Elizabeth Blackmore.

<i>Ash vs Evil Dead</i> American comedy horror television show distributed by Starz

Ash vs Evil Dead is an American comedy horror television series developed by Sam Raimi, Ivan Raimi, and Tom Spezialy for the Starz network filmed in New Zealand. It is set in Raimi's Evil Dead universe, with Bruce Campbell reprising his role as Ash Williams, and acts as a sequel to the original trilogy, although it doesn't directly address the events of the reboot.

Sam Raimis unrealized projects

The following is a list of unproduced Sam Raimi projects in roughly chronological order. During his long career, American film director and producer Sam Raimi has worked on a number of projects which never progressed beyond the pre-production stage under his direction. Some of these projects, are officially cancelled and scrapped or fell in development hell.

References

  1. "Release Info for Thous Shalt Not Kill...Except". imdb.com. Retrieved 2015-02-27.
  2. "Company Credits for Thous Shalt Not Kill...Except". imdb.com. Retrieved 2011-04-08.
  3. "Thou Shalt Not Kill... Except". dvdempire.com. Retrieved 2011-04-08.