Five “city boys” travel to the country to relax by doing some hunting, drinking Bud, and generally having good time. However, the local inbred backwoods psychos turn the hunters to be the hunted, and they need all the ammo and wits they have to get out of the woods alive.
Ever see “Deliverance”? “Southern Comfort”? “Rituals” maybe? More importantly did you like them? If so, then “Hunter’s Blood” is right up your alley. If not, you still might dig this for some of the performances & the overall quality of the film which surprised me no end. I was expecting a cheap ripoff and I got a fairly decent & exciting little thriller instead!
“Hunter’s Blood” stars Samuel Bottoms as David who, as the movie begins, is getting ready to join some friends of his on a weekend hunting trip. Joining him are his dad, Mason (Clu Gulager) & friends Al (Ken Swofford), Marty (Joey Travolta) & Ralph (Mayf Nutter). The script does a fairly good job of establishing the characters as they gather together and drive off to the backwoods of Arkansas to hunt for deer. Unfortunately for them they almost immediately end up at the wrong end of the woods, the end where all of the (Very secretive) rednecks live. And these rednecks do not enjoy company at all…
The boys end up at Tobe’s(!) Gas Stop for some gas & maybe some beer for their trip when they run into the locals for the first time. First thought I had was “Why didn’t they have beer packed and ready to go before they left”? But I suppose that would mean that they wouldn’t have stopped and there wouldn’t be a movie to watch would there? So they decide to stop & not only buy some beer but drink a few as well. It’s at this point they meet some of the locals and unfortunately, because of their mildly condescending attitudes towards them, run afoul of them. This initial confrontation ends up in a fight in which Mason beats up one of the rednecks pretty thoroughly, embarrassing him on front of his kin. And unbeknownst to the city folk, the chase has begun.
Amazingly enough, after the five hunters escape from the locals in a fairly rote car chase scene, they continue on their trip as if the last few hours never happened. Even going as far as to set up camp and start deer hunting when they just have to know that the sh*t ain’t over yet. But they go about their business blithely, ribbing each other good naturedly as they set up shop. But once again they find themselves in the sh*t because they set up in a section of the woods where they really shouldn’t be. It’s here where they run into some poachers who aren’t too happy that their friends back at the gas station were messed with by “City Folk”. The five of them now have to deal with an enemy who is very familiar with this terrain and have no issues with killing whomever they consider to be intruding on their land.
In addition to all of this, David’s wife, Melanie (Kim Delaney), decides she wants to meet up with her hubby & his friends as a surprise. This of course doesn’t bode well for her either. Actually this is the dumbest part of the story and it’s a far too obvious and cheap way to add some unwanted suspense to what has been up to this point a pretty good movie. I guess the writer thought there was too much testosterone here & he wanted to add a female to the mix. Unfortunately, this is an unnecessary plot contrivance and only serves to demean women in general since Melanie is so damn stupid. She actually drives up to the gas stop in one scene, stopping directly in front of the sign that reads in large letters “Tobe’s Gas Stop” and asking if she’s at “Tobe’s Gas Stop”. She gets out of the car and walks directly towards the sign! There is no way she could’ve missed it & I just thought that adding her to the mix was dumb at that point. It’s not a crime to have a woman in a film that doesn’t put herself in peril and that’s all that Melanie does here.
From this point on the film becomes a pretty violent cat & mouse game between the yanks, the rednecks & the poachers. There are a couple of game wardens thrown in as well who warn the fellas about where they are but they don’t serve as anything more than that. They warn the boys and then they get to stepping right out of the movie which is good for them because the one officer of the law that does get involved ends up beheaded by the locals. Oh yeah…the movie does get nasty at times, there is a shotgun blast to the face that I had to rewind five times because it was so sudden & so friggin’ awesome to watch over & over again (I dig that stuff…so sue me).
The cast is filled with seasoned veterans as well. In addition to the ones I’ve already mentioned it includes Bruce Glover, Billy Drago, Lee De Broux, Mickey Jones & if you look very carefully Billy Bob Thornton is in there as well in a blink and you’ll miss him cameo. Drago & Glover are especially vile and effective as two of the rednecks who aren’t happy with the tourists. But the standout performance comes from Gulager as Mason Rand. He is in prime form here as a man who simply does not take any sh*t from anybody and is willing to back up what he says by whatever means necessary. He gives a terrific performance but he pretty much always has, he is one of those actors who just adds something to every role he’s in and elevates the quality of whatever movie he’s in as well.
All in all, “Hunter’s Blood” is something of a little masterpiece! It’s well acted, well directed (By Robert Hughes) & despite the dumb addition of Melanie looking for the boys in the story, well written (By Jere Cunningham based on his novel). The suspense builds ever so slowly but inexorably and when it gets rolling it rolls really good. It certainly surprised these jaundiced eyes and it has a nifty little “OH SHIT”! ending as well to boot. I think that this is a film worth seeking out for all of you and I think that you’re all going to enjoy it as well. Four out of five shrouds for “Hunter’s Blood”, a kick ass movie that takes no prisoners and delivers what it promises in spades. A little seen classic that deserves to be seen by all!
Hunter’s Blood (1986)