Code Red // 1975 // 86 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Tom Becker // December 17th, 2010
It's a land of paradise...unless you don't belong there.
The state is turning some unspoiled woodland into a camp ground. This does not sit well with the three backwoods brothers who call this forest home.
Monroe (William Kerwin, Blood Feast), the eldest, seems to be the most together; he just wants to scare off the workers. Ezra (Daniel Schweitzer, Tomcats) is ticked about losing the family shack but more upset because he's never had a woman. Benny (Sam Moree, Tomcats), the youngest, seems to be a couple of spuds short of a 'tater pie and goes ballistic when he sees a tree cut down.
When an attempt to harass the workers goes ickily wrong -- some poor bulldozer operator gets cut in half, and his co-workers seem slightly less annoyed than they would if their coffee break got cut short -- the brothers decide that huntin' season has come to the hills. Unfortunately, the workers pack up and go home, living to bulldoze another day; fortunately for the vengeance-happy hicks, a few bad-luck campers turn up to frolic in the great outdoors. Even better, at least for Ezra, they's women-folk among 'em!
* Bickering marrieds Richard (Robert Rosano) and Carol (Kayelynne); from the get-go, we know Richard is a tool because he makes a nasty, racist comment about some black guys driving a Rolls Royce, though in a nose-thumbing moment to political correctness, the black guys turn out to be larcenous cretins.
* David (Scott Lawrence, Valley Girl, aka Wayne Crawford, who co-wrote this), who has the most boring backstory: he quits his job at a place that makes parts that are used for bombs and takes off on a motorcycle on some vague odyssey to get away from it all.
* Leslie (Jennifer Gregory, Shriek of the Mutilated), a young woman whose breasts are so spectacular that men cannot refrain from molesting her on sight -- clearly not the best person to camp out in the midst of a bunch of horny hillbillies.
Carnage and unpleasantry ensues.
God's Bloody Acre is a dumb, pretentious, and ugly film, another entry in the superfluous and better-forgotten drive-in subgenre of "hicksploitation" that got a jolt with the success of Macon County Line and included such dismal fare as The Crater Lake Monster and Honky Tonk Nights. Like most exploitation films, this one serves up its fair share of violence, action, T&A, and useless, "let's pad the runtime" musical montages, all with an irritating southern-fried twang.
What makes God's Bloody Acre a little more onerous than much of its exploitation brethren is that it seems to be aspiring to something more than it is. Besides the lurid title, which riffs on Erskine Caldwell's novel God's Little Acre and Anthony Mann's then-controversial 1958 film adaptation, God's Bloody Acre toys with -- and completely fumbles -- some business about racial intolerance, makes eco-positive statements by having a deranged character scream about trees, gives us a disaffected, counter-culturally hero/victim, and comments on the victimization of women by having poor Leslie being slapped around and groped simply because she's been "cursed" with a full bustline. Rather than adding any depth, these highish-minded conceits just point up how ill-conceived and poorly executed the whole thing is.
The most disturbing moment comes at around the two-thirds point, when one of our ladies is assaulted by the mountain men. While we expect this sort of thing from an exploitation film -- isn't this why we're watching in the first place? -- this assault is a little more graphic than it needs to be. But what's worse is an unexpected and nasty twist that gets thrown in, which along with a character's "revelation" at the end of the film, suggests that the writers were less influenced by Deliverance -- often the culprit for inspiration where violent hicksploitation is concerned -- than by another film from the early '70s, Sam Peckinpah's classic Straw Dogs. Perceiving that connection just made God's Bloody Acre one big "time for a shower" ordeal, at least for me.
Code Red offers up two different prints of the film, neither especially good. Since they couldn't get a properly transferable copy, they offer "The Grindhouse Version," which is a theatrical print filled with streaks and blemishes. It's anamorphic, and despite its problems looks better than "The Collector's Berne Act Version," an apparent bootleg purchased from online auction site (the seller claiming the print to be from a Japanese laserdisc), which is presented full frame and looks soft and muddy. Audio is a tinny mono track. For supplements, we're given interviews with writer/star Wayne Crawford (who's fully aware of how wretched the film is) and producer Andrew Lane. A Code Red trailer vault rounds out the release. Typically, Code Red's presentation is better and more fun than the film itself.
God's Bloody Acre is a bloody mess. Hicksploitation completists will want to snatch up this little-seen monstrosity, but for the casual viewer...well, you've been warned.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Code Red
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
Running Time: 86 Minutes
Release Year: 1975
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Alternate Version