Saturday, August 3, 2013

GBH (Grievous Bodily Harm)

GBH (Grievous Bodily Harm) Directed by David Kent-Watson, Written by and Starring Cliff Twemlow. (1983).
Ever since I started TOG, I've learned so much about the underground world of overlooked cult actors that I sometimes have to invent new words to tack Sploitation on the end of (like Krug-sploitation, Moreau-Sploitation and Belushi-Sploitation). In any case I'm continuously expanding my mind as I delve further into the underworld of subterranean filth. I haven't really tackled that many Brit flicks though.
   Which leads me to tonight's overlooked celebrity Mr. Cliff Twemlow (who's last name makes me think I have an Elmer Fudd or Wobert from Meet The Feebles speech impediment)! He's a martial artist, Tuxedo Warrior, horror author, and composer of De-Wolfe library tracks (his most famous being The Pretty Things Dawn Of The Dead tune "Cause I'm A Man"). He's a work-a-holic juggernaut with a lantern jaw and features like a Gerry Anderson 'Supermarionette'. Sadly he died  of a heart attack in 1993.

   I decided to check GBH out, because it was featured in the Art of Video Nasties book and has a ridiculously misleading cover of Twemlow holding an axe (there are zero axes in the film). The only reason I could see why this made the cut is because of David Hamilton Grant's involvement in the distribution. Grant was the notorious British smut peddler of trash like E.T. The Extraterrestrial Nastie and Nightmares in a Damaged Brain. There's absolutely nothing offensive about G.B.H. and it could play on basic cable.
   The opening credit montage is like a lost sitcom as each character is introduced. Cliff plays "The Mancunian" Steve Donovan, a Manchester enforcer of nightclubs, protecting it from Keller's angry street gang. This is one of the earliest Shot on Video features (or Shitty-o) and the fight staging is excellent, even if there's loud room tone and the production looks like "Life Styles Of The Rich And Famous" With Robin Leach. After the first meeting with Murray the boss and one of his old friend's Chris, the two mates frolic around on the grass the next day. The scene is awkwardly homo-erotic as a slow crooning number is heard while the men rough house with each other, Donovan calls him a "Cheeky little bastard".
let me get some lube sweetie
   Keller the mob boss looks alot like 50's wacky standup comedian Charlie Callas. Donovan steals this shrimpy dude's girlfriend and asks her what she'd like to drink and after she tells him, he says "They're Your Guts"! There's some clever dialogue, that you don't hear the first time around, sometimes Twemlow resembles the elderly James Bond from Look Around You.
   There are lots of British comedy looking actors with giant glasses, comb overs and brown sweaters. Toward the end, Donovan goes on a rampage in the forest, but is nice to all of his enemies for the last few minutes before they die.
   It's hard for me to recommend this film because I was definitely entertained, but it's not a horror film, it's too soft to be an action flick and not tender enough to be a drama. So it's sort of in suspended animation, and doesn't fit well into any category. A labor of love from a man who obviously put his heart into this early 80's shot on video underground film.
my face caught on fire again
   I've stumbled onto a patch of duds lately and mildly entertaining and silly as this was, I can't help but have sympathy for it, especially since its autobiographical and one guy basically helmed the entire production. The film stock is incredibly fuzzed out, though the shot composition and staging is often the most dynamic part.
Stop cock blocking me Paddington!
   GBH was supposed to come off like a grittier version of The Long Good Friday with Bob Hoskins playing a similar kingpin (I have yet to watch that film though). This is pure fodder to get trashed and make fun of, but don't be too mean because there is enough talent and spirit to make it less like The Room and more like a dumb 80's martial arts Cannon flick. On a sort of related note, I have to mention the punk band charged GBH and their hit single "City Baby Attacked By Rats"! That song is not included in the film, but there is alot of disco and synthesizer music by Twemlow (under the psuedonym John Agar).
Slightly Recommended
Here's an article comparing Twemlow to Ed Wood 

I told you Michael Pollard, I don't want to play bloody table tennis!

I came here to meet Levar Burton and chew bubblegum and I'm all out of bubblegum


  1. I love this film. Good review but two things. Cliff didn't actually direct it and although it was close, it was never actually on the video nasty list.

  2. Whoops, you're right, I fixed it. I did see this cover in a book on VN's here
    so that's where the confusion was, thanks for reading!

  3. Late to the party, boys...

  4. Better late then never.
    I'm still waitin on that Invitation to Hell review, but not holding my breathe! I like how you put this in league with Mad Foxes as two all time favs in the film threat article.


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