Sunday, May 30, 2010

Ghetto Blaster (1989)


Tagline: He wants to take the fight to them... even if it means pursuing the gangs all the way back to the ghetto.

Back of VHS: Street gangs have turned a peaceful community into a war zone. Automatic gunfire rips through the night. Innocent victims are mowed down in drive-by shootings and the cops say they're powerless to stop the assault. But this neighbourhood has a new power. The gang's rule is over - a Speacial Forces vietnam vet has just declared war.

Movie Review:

Ghetto Blaster

From the opening 80's electro-rap music and MTV style quick editing I knew that this would be good. Sometimes you just get that feeling, y'know? A lot of the time it's all over within the first ten minutes and you start looking at the clock on the DVD player, but not this time.

Ghetto Blaster. Let's just stop a moment and consider how freaking awesome that title is. Of course it relates to the 80's all-in-one portable stereo system that many of us had, but in the bad action context think about it. It's a guy Blasting the shit out of the Ghettos. Ghetto Blaster. That's totally sweet. It says everything you need it to say, in the same way that the movie Cyborg Cop is about a cyborg cop.

This is basically a vigilante movie. Travis (played by Richard Hatch, who according to IMDB has done various bit parts in TV shows over the years and a few movies, but you may know him as Tom Zarek from the reboot of Battlestar Galactica) comes home for holidays or something with his daughter Lisa. His parents say that the town has changed in his three year abscence and that he should be careful out there. But hey, it's his home turf, why should he? What could be that different?


The town is controlled by a vicious gang, that's what. Straight away we get a car chase with shootout (yes, bins are hit and boxes avoided) between two rival gangs. One car crashes and one of the occupants drags himself out of the wreckage, pleading for mercy from his rival; but no such luck I'm afraid. And by the looks of it he was the last member of that gang, as we don't seem that particular affinity again. The movie concentrates on a gang called The Hammers (not M.C. Hammer, this is a latino gang) who are run by a guy calling himself Jesus (pronounced Hey Zeus!) and his second-in-command Chato. Travis first has a run in with them as he goes to his car and fights two of the lower-rungs away with his threat of giving them "an ass full of boot". It sure scared me.

There's a lot of that MTV flick-screen directing here - showing half a second glimpses of ten scenes all strung together over the bad electro music. We see shots of graffiti, gang colours, etc. It's pretty funny and dates the movie badly (in a good way). Travis goes to see his dad at the store that he runs. Turns out his dad is the General from Predator, so that's cool. On his way out he sees a hot girl drop her shopping (an old trick) and he goes to help her pick it up. She says her name is Gina and that her brother is Chato, a member of The Hammers. Later that night when Travis is helping his dad in the shop some more Hammers gang members come to claim protection money. When he refuses he's shot dead and Travis is beaten up.

You can see where this is going. Strangely though the death of his father doesn't cause Travis to go vigilante yet. He takes over the running of the shop and meets one of the old regulars, Mr. Dobson, a nice old man who takes his cat around with him. He of course is set on fire and his cat killed. This is what it takes for Travis to seek revenge. I found that quite odd, as he only just met the man. Maybe he really liked cats.


From here on in Travis lays traps for The Hammers like exploding ghetto blasters, mouse traps (!) and tieing motorbikes to poles so the rider is flung off. Annoying, but not life threatening. Jesus (Hey Zeus!) demands satisfaction and we play cat and mouse between Travis and the gang in who gets revenge on who.

I have to mention the best scene. Travis gets a tip off that a drug deal is going down in the park so he goes to cause a ruckus, dressed as a clown. This scene is brilliant. In full Binky the Clown getup he ties Jesus to the bench and tells him if he moves the balloons tied to his hands will explode.

This is a lot of fun. It's only 82 minutes long and doesn't stop to get boring at any point. The ending is suitably bad-action with abandoned warehouse explosions, car explosions, uzi gunfights and a cheesy drawn-out death sequence. There is no DVD of Ghetto Blasters so you need to track down a VHS (eBay and Amazon have a few cheap) or look for a torrent. Either way make sure you do.


The Video:

I watched an xvid rip sourced from a VHS. As with most VHS tapes the blacks were washed out the and whites too bright. The middle-colours were generally okay though diluted and the sound was fine. I don't think you will get any better with a movie like this, but hopefully one day someone will surprise me with a restored DVD edition.

Sourced From:

BitTorrent; though I think I will pick up a VHS!


More Screens:









  1. Damn fine review for what looks like an awesomely cheesy movie!

  2. I'd love for this to finally make it onto DVD. It's the main reason why I haven't gotten to it on my blog. The runningtime and clown suit were what made it more than just a Death Wish rip-off for me.

  3. I think I'll end up picking up a VHS of this it was so good, a download doesn't cut it. Hopefully it will hit DVD one day.

  4. This is a must buy! Looks absolutely insane!

  5. Just found your review, I'm working on a writeup on this for Paracinema. I feel pretty lucky to have scored a nice tape of Ghetto Blaster. Even if it is a wreck of a movie, it's an entertaining wreck.

    1. Oh cool I'll have to check out your review! I don't collect US slipcover VHS but in this instance I would like to get one, as the UK tape is censored.