1973’s Forced Entry, is an infamous hardcore/horror crossover and one of the most notorious films of the grindhouse era. To make a film “as an unhinged tribute to the no-holds-barred era of exploitation horror” and use its title takes a lot of confidence. Or ego. But that’s exactly what writer K.M. Jamison and co-director/star Jim Bett Jr. have done. Can the result live up to the expectations its title creates?
Forced Entry is based loosely on the crimes of Lawrence Bittaker and Roy Norris the so-called “Toolbox Killers” who also inspired the 1978 filmToolbox Murders. The twenty-four-minute short follows Arthur Maddox (Tom Lodewyck, Hole in the Wall, Incest Death Squad) and Donovan Hatche (Jim Bett Jr., The Zombie Hero) as what was meant to be a random killing turns into a killing spree.
And that really is all the plot the film has. It’s a series of attacks that starts with two seemingly random victims. When the hotel maid enters before the killers can leave they have to abduct and kill her. Then a jogger sees them disposing of the body… All of this is depicted with a minimum of dialogue and a lot of practical effects done by Bett.
Normally I’d be a lot more critical of a film like Forced Entry. I like at least a bit of plot and character development, and we get none of either. But as a recreation of many of the films that played the grindhouses, it’s fairly well done and has several disturbing moments. Which means it accomplished what it set out to do. Like those films, Forced Entry doesn’t shy away from torture and sexual violence although that is implied more so than shown on screen. It’s still disturbing enough that those with a sensitivity to such scenes may want to avoid the film.
There’s not much I can say about the acting. The victims, one of whom is played by Ellie Church (Frankenstein Created Bikers, The Bad Man) don’t have much to do besides scream and beg for their lives. Bett and Lodewyck don’t have much in the way of dialogue either and are masked through most of the film.
Forced Entry was produced as a proof of concept for a feature-length film, and, depending on how it was expanded it could work at full length. If they filled it out with some background about the characters it could make a good feature, but ninety minutes of what we have here would get repetitive and dull pretty quickly.
Those looking for a dose of nastiness or with nostalgia for the films of the 70s and early 80s should enjoy Forced Entry. Those looking for a more traditionally constructed film may be less entertained. The easily offended are advised to avoid it.