The backwoods horror film was no doubt a popular staple of 1970s exploitation cinema. You know, the kind of flick where some family of unethical redneck types who never bath and basically live off the fat of the land (as well as road kill), make life miserable for the big city folks who are trying to have a nice little vacation or simply got off on the wrong exit? From the director of BARRACUDA, possibly the worst JAWS rip off of them all, comes GOD’S BLOODY ACRE, another backwoods (in this case, Florida) Hicksploitation thriller which does a nice little twist on the “God’s Little Acre” title, and is bad enough to cause most of the main players to use pseudonyms.
Somewhere in Florida, three mountain men types (complete with flannel shirts and unruly hairstyles) aren’t going to let a construction crew invade their forest utopia by sawing down the lofty pines and creating a camping site for unwanted visitors. Brothers Benny (Sam Moree), Ezra (Daniel Schweitzer) and the eldest, Monroe (BLOOD FEAST star William Kerwin, here billed as Thomas Wood) see a sign (well, Monroe is the only one of the three who can read) announcing a forthcoming creation of a park, and they’ll do anything they can to save their makeshift shack and spare the environment. This means having it out with the poor sap that happens to be doing his job with a bulldozer, as these three hillbilly stooges barrage him, using the massive machine's blade to sever him in half.
In the meantime, David (Wayne Crawford, here billed as Scott Lawrence) fed up with his office job, takes off on his motorcycle, while a young lady named Leslie (Jennifer Stock, here billed as Jennifer Gregory), kicked out by here abusive macho-head beau, takes off in her Volkswagen van. David’s bike breaks down, and he’s mugged, but is lucky enough to run into Leslie, who had just escaped an eatery full of typical male harassers, one of which gets away with feeling her up. David and Leslie soon become a couple, make love while skinny dipping, and camp out on the three brothers’ self proclaimed territory. Next up on their property is a middle-aged couple in an RV, on a romantic road trip without the kids. Are all these folks in danger? You betcha.
Shot entirely in Florida with pocket change, GOD’S BLOODY ACRE is a fairly inept experiment aimed at the drive-ins, but its overall shoddiness, terrible acting, and more than a few peculiar plot devices are what gives it a trashy appeal. Take for instance the three antagonists: they’re basically just a trio of mountain men who simply want to defend their home, but are accidentally propelled into murder while doing so, which sets of a domino effect of more killings, as well as a rape. The rape scene is both memorable and disturbing, as it has an attractive blond housewife (Kayelynne), frustrated by her husband’s lack of interest in her, starting to enjoy the sexual assault, that is until she opens her eyes to realize the beastly image in front of her, kicking and screaming, and going mad with a shotgun.
You have to give credit to the film for at least making ecological destruction the rationale behind the actions of the antagonists (or are they actually the protagonists?), but how about a trio of black men (seen cruising in a Rolls Royce) referred to as “spades” by one character, with their only purpose in the film being to commit a freeway crime? And then there’s David, who quits his lucrative job since the creating of defense weapons plays heavy on his conscious. Social commentary, racism and stereotyping, mixed with the expected sleaze and attempts at shocks, all set to a soundtrack of library scare music and female-chanted ballads, and you have quite the oddball viewing experience, all wrapped up as a homegrown mid 1970s horror film bearing production values on a level with INVASION OF THE BLOOD FARMERS. And then you got good old William Kerwin, the brother of the director, messing up his hair and doing his usual believable performance (there must have been a law during the 1960s and 1970s, that every exploitation film made in the state of Florida had to include him, sort of like Vic Diaz and the Philippines). If you recognized shapely hippy chick Jennifer Stock/Gregory, you should. She starred in Michael Findlay’s SHRIEK OF THE MUTILATED, as well as smaller part in Joel M. Reed's BLOODSUCKING FREAKS.
Code Red offers GOD’S BLOODY ACRE in two versions of the same 86-minute cut of the film. The “grindhouse” version (an original release print with a "based on true events" card at the beginning) commences with a disclaimer about the quality of 35mm print this was sourced from, and you can expect lines, water damage, and other blemishes. The color is not too bad, and it’s at least anamorphic and widescreen (1.78:1) and doesn’t have any major missing dialog or other stuff due to print damage. The mono audio is passable, not great, but not terrible either. The other version was made from an old video source; it’s full frame and soft. The grindhouse version is preferred; even with the flaws, its 35mm origins still make it more desirable to watch.
“Uncensored! Exit Scott Lawrence! Enter Wayne Crawford!” (23:59) is an informative featurette which has Crawford answering specific questions about acting in the film, writing the story, as well as being one of its producers. Crawford considers it is humble beginnings, and mentions that it was shot on 16mm (and blown up to 35mm) for around $20,000! Crawford’s former long-time business partner and producer of the film, Andy Lane, is on hand for a second featurette, “A Conversation with Andrew Lane” (13:20), as he discusses their first cinematic endeavor together, and what it was like making a shoestring-budgeted movie (cast members sleeping on his floor!) aimed specifically for the drive-in market. Crawford’s and Lane’s impressive list of films together include VALLEY GIRL, NIGHT OF THE COMET and JAKE SPEED. Code Red trailers for TOMCATS, TRAPPED, THE CARRIER, TERMINAL ISLAND and MEAN JOHNNY BARROWS round out the extras. (George R. Reis)
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