Fortress of Amerikkka (Vinegar Syndrome) Blu-ray Review

Another Troma film gets the love and attention they all deserve with the blu-ray debut of the video store classic, Fortress of Amerikkka, from Vinegar Syndrome. 

Studio: Vinegar Syndrome
Release Date: August 1989 (video premiere)
                            January 25th, 2022 (blu-ray)
Run Time: 1 hour 40 minutes 42 seconds
Region Code: FREE
Picture: 1080p (1.85:1 aspect ratio)
Sound: English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
Subtitles: English SDH
Slipcover: Yes (hardbox)
Digital Copy: No
Starring: Gene LeBrockKellee BradleyDavid CraneWilliam J. KulzerKascha, and 
Douglas C. Fox
Written by Eric Louzil
Directed by Eric Louzil
Rating: R (strong graphic violence and gore, strong sexual content, nudity, and language including racial slurs)




What's It About?

Hidden deep in the forest next to sleepy Troma City, a band of ruthless mercenaries, the ‘Fortress of Amerikkka,’ have set up camp, practicing their violent tactics of war in preparation for an impending revolution. When the violence begins to take the lives of the townsfolk, John Whitecloud, a tough half-Indian with a bad reputation decides to take matters into his own hands and protect his community. But facing as much animosity from the townspeople as from the mercenaries themselves, John quickly learns that he’ll be fighting two battles.

Film Review

When I heard about this film many years ago, I thought it was going to be crap. The thing about Troma is that they are very hit or miss. Their mainline stuff that they make themselves is usually pretty good. They have given us THE TOXIC AVENGER, CLASS OF NUKE 'EM HIGH, and TERROR FIRMER and those are all classics. It's their pickups and films they fund but do not make that are more miss than hit. Sure, we have gotten films like CANNIBAL! THE MUSICAL, REDNECK ZOMBIES, and COMBAT SHOCK, but most of the other ones are crap. I was sure that FORTRESS OF AMERIKKKA would fall into that last category. 

To my surprise, the film isn't bad. It's not terribly good either, but it is watchable and kind of enjoyable. The film is ultra gory, which I wasn't expecting. I figured that this was something Troma just funded so the filmmaking would take a few hits, but I can say that the effects are really well done. There are a lot of squibs and beheadings and neck slashings and they all look great. Hell, the film ends with some really nice explosions. The acting is even laughably terrible which makes it a lot easier to watch. 

The story and the characters are what bring this film down. Firstly, the main characters and the Fortress of Amerikkka don't meet until the very end. The stories seem to be at odds with each other. It's like this film was supposed to be about the "Indian" character and Troma wanted the filmmakers to add the Fortress of Amerikkka to the script because Troma thought the title was clever. This means that we have two separate stories that don't really have anything to do with each other until the end. I liked the stuff with the Fortress of Amerikkka but couldn't stand the stuff with the "Indian" character or any of the other characters for that matter. They talk too much about stuff that doesn't matter and we are honestly worse off for listening to them.

The film wisely keeps the character stuff to a minimum or as much as they could, but the film does feel longer than it is because of this. The film is a decent watch and I am not mad at myself for watching it, but it could have been so much better had the filmmakers and Troma come to a better agreement on what exactly goes into the film. It is entertaining to a point and it looks and feels like a Troma film should. I just wish it was better.


Presented in the film's original aspect ratio of 1.85:1, FORTRESS OF AMERIKKKA looks really good. Film grain is present which leads to some pretty impressive detail. Skin tones are accurate and colors are vibrant when they need to be. I didn't see any DNR or anything like that. This is a great transfer, one that is better than the film calls for. 

The included 2.0 track is nice and lively, it is a Troma film after all. There are a few scenes with that hard "S" problem that plagued Scream Factory's BLACK CHRISTMAS blu-ray a few year ago, but these instances seem to be a problem of the recording of the sound and not a problem with the blu-ray. It only happens in a few scenes, so it isn't all over like the BLACK CHRISTMAS problem was. 


Back to the Woods (17m 18s, HD, 1.78:1) An interview with writer/director Eric Louzil. He talks about his initial meeting with Troma and was given a budget of "over $100,000" to shoot the film. The film's original lead tried to come up with an injury so he could collect on the insurance that Troma took out on the film. They had shot a week's worth of footage with him so they had to rework the film work around a non-existent character. He then talks about fake breasts (the film is an exploitation film, so it was bound to come up. The reason he brings this up is because actresses and models would get fake boobs and then want to get into the movies so they can show off their new fake boobs and that is how he is able to get actors to get naked on camera. Lloyd Kaufman gave him a lot of freedom when it came to shooting the film. 
Chant with Me (9m 27s, HD, 1.78:1) An interview with actor Troy Fromin. He found out about the film through an acting magazine. He was asked if he could live in the woods for week in order to get the part and he said yes and that is how the film was shot. They would climb into a SUV and drive to the middle of nowhere where to they would shoot the film and sleep in tents. He then talks about all the people he or the militia kills in the film. 
Big Dreams (6m 49s, HD, 1.78:1) An interview with actor Brad Roth. Recalls shooting M16s and not having any protection for his ears. He was friends with Troy and got him the part in the film. He then talks about the films he made after this with director Eric Louzil.

FORTRESS OF AMERIKKKA comes to us from Vinegar Syndrome as part of their Vinegar Syndrome Archive label that specializes in films that were discovered in video stores during the 80s and 90s. These releases are different from other Vinegar Syndrome releases in that they have a special type of slipcover (they are a thicker cardboard stock that has an opening on the bottom where the blu-ray case slides in and out of), a double sided poster featuring the same artwork on each side of the poster, and they are limited to a certain number (this one is 5,000) and then there is no more. At least that is how the others have been but according to their site, they may do a standard edition. 

The slipcover is nice, but I hate that I have to stick in a piece of paper on both sides of the blu-ray case as I slide it into the slipcover because if you don't, the plastic on the blu-ray case will get caught and fold over. The slip is too sturdy to move around the blu-ray case like normal slipcovers do.  That being said, the slips are nice so I guess it is worth the extra effort. The slip features cover art on both sides of the slip, so that if you don't like one cover, you can change it to the other. I am liking that some companies are doing this with their slipcovers. It gives us options. Each slip is hand-numbered up to 5,000.

The blu-ray case features the same artwork as the slipcover (both sides) so you can choose one for the slip and the other for the case. The disc features the drawn artwork that the cases use as does the folded glossy poster that is inside the case. 


This is actually a fairly well made Troma film that is really exciting when the milita is on screen, but deadly boring when it is anyone else. Well, maybe not the cops because they are their own brand of weird, but everyone else sucks. The Vinegar Syndrome blu-ray gives the film a fresh transfer that looks like a million bucks and some really great interviews containing the only BTS you can find about the film. 




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