(Paul Donovan/Maura O'Connell, 1983)
While the (honest!) Fuller-style limited action of this remarkably terse film leaves plenty of room for Donovan's liberal conscience, it imposes so much rigor and excises so much bullshit that you can't imagine it sprung from the same mind that tried to make us watch "Norman's Awesome Experience". Which makes me think that maybe O'Connell is the brains of the operation, especially since she also produced Donovan's other tolerable film, "Def-Con 4". After escaping a harrowing massacre in a Halifax gay bar, some guy teams up with an apartment full of slackers and misfits he's never met before to engage in a protracted and ingenious showdown with the hateful thugs. And that's all, folks: the movie never once breaks its thrillingly obsessive focus on the eccentric landscape and arsenal of the warehouse-district battlefield. The warriors' personalities, rendered in exquisite shorthand, are varied and vivid - resourceful or useless, sympathetic or remote, with complex variations on both sides of the war. Without any cosmetic separation between lead and support characters, you never know who's going to get offed next, especially since each side's weapons are jerry-rigged and prone to failure. It all adds up to a great deal of calculated, nerve-wracking excitement, and any concern that the police-strike context isn't as morally neutral as the filmmakers think it is is blown away by the final shot, which proves with quiet finality just how smart this team is.