Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Hunter's Blood (1986)

It's tough I know, but as much as I like these backwoods-redneck movies, I (like most people) always end up comparing them to Deliverance. I'm generally pretty good at cutting low budget movies suitable amounts of slack, and I'll usually groan when people compare a small indie flick to its slick Hollywood equivalent, so it's weird that I often end up being so critical of this sub-genre - maybe it's because Deliverance is such a perfect movie that it renders any rip-offs kind of pointless? Either way, I guess a decent rip-off is still worth watching, and after reading some relatively positive reviews I approached Hunter's Blood with a certain amount of optimism.

Like most redneck-horror movies, Hunter's Blood can be summed up in one sentence: five guys head deep into the woods on a hunting trip, and end up being terrorised by local rednecks and forced to fight for their lives. Hunter's Blood was high on my list of must-sees for one reason only: the involvement of Clu Gallagher. Seeing his name in the credits instantly raised my expectations, because with low budget movies the appearance of a really great actor can lift the whole thing immeasurably. In the case of Hunter's Blood, this is definitely true. Even though the performances are mostly fine (except for one, which I'll get to in a minute), it's insane how much Clu Gallagher dominates this movie... And the weirdest thing is, he's clearly putting zero effort into his performance. He barely says a word for the first 25 minutes, and for the majority of the film looks like he would rather be anywhere but on the set of this movie. Despite all this though, Gallagher is by far the best thing about Hunter's Blood, and really lends a touch of class to the movie.

So Clu Gallagher is awesome, got it. But what about the rest of the movie? Well, unfortunately Hunter's Blood suffers from some huge faults that drag it down big-style. Easily the worst thing about this movie is the character of Marty, played by Joey Travolta (John's brother). It's crazy how appalling an actor Joey Travolta is... Though it doesn't help that his character is a moany, bumbling, loudmouth prick. Marty is one of those characters that films introduce just so there's someone to do stupid shit and trigger certain events - a lazy move that always really irritates me. Another problem is the rednecks themselves - they're much too cartoonish, and not in the least bit threatening. There's absolutely no tension or sense of danger because the rednecks are just caricatures, and not nearly mean or intimidating enough for a movie like this. There are a few other problems that struck me, such as poorly lit night scenes and horrendous music, but I guess I'm nitpicking now.

HB does have a few things going for it though. For one, it's got a surprising amount of gore, and I guess it clips along at a fairly nice pace, though you know exactly what's going to happen at every turn. The opening scenes with the five guys shooting the shit and hanging out are quite enjoyable too, and I liked the scenes with Clu Gallagher's character and his son, but again that's mainly due to Gallagher's performance. To be honest though, I lost interest in the movie by the time the end rolled around, because it's just so stock and predictable.

Hunter's Blood could have been a great little backwoods thriller, but it suffers from a few irredeemable flaws. It's not terrible, and certainly not the worst movie of it's kind I've seen, but to be honest I don't see myself watching it again.

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