Review- Southern Comfort (1981)

Review- Southern Comfort (1981)

A team of Louisiana Army National Guards venture into a local bayou. After getting lost they take three small boats belonging to local Cajuns. When they fire blank bullets at the men the Cajuns return this gesture with real bullets, killing one of the soldiers. From here on in things get worse and worse for the soldiers as they must fight for their own survival.

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Look at this ultra rare V2000 edition of Southern Comfort! Video 2000 lost out to Betamax which in turn lost out to VHS as a video format.

I remember seeing the last act of this film on late night TV in the 80’s and it was one of the most paranoid and chilling sequences I think I had ever seen in a film. Seeing the full film, this sequence remains taut and utterly unnerving.

In fact the film as a whole is yet another gem from director Walter Hill (The Warriors, 48 Hours, The Driver) with amazing cinematography from Andrew Laszlo.

This film reminds me of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre in that we have a slow tension-filled buildup until a massively violent incident comes out of the blue and shows us that the film means business. I’m certainly not going to disclose this genuinely shocking moment but it’s a gritty, uncompromising incident in a gritty and uncompromising film.

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A fine all-male ensemble reminds me of the same dynamic as John Carpenter’s The Thing which can’t be bad. In fact, it reminded me of The Warriors also, but minus another Mercy type character. Again, this comparison is no bad thing.

On it’s release the movie drew inevitable comparisons to Deliverance but this feels rawer, leaner and more suspenseful. This has the sensibilities of an edgier independent film. And there are no cringy scenes involving banjos.

A cracking film.

4 and a half out of 5

Day 18- 31 Days of Halloween- The Forest (1982)

Day 18- 31 Days of Halloween- The Forest (1982)

Two couples decide to go camping in the woods. Arriving separately (darn that wonky radiator!), they soon realise that the woods aren’t as peaceful and reinvigorating as they first thought. It is in fact a killing ground for a father who mudered his philandering  wife, went mad and took his two young children to live in a cave. Unfortunately they got sick and killed themselves. Daddy has been killing anyone stupid enough to camp in his woods ever since and eating their remains. Insanity does that to you.

The Forest is one of the more, erm, extreme entries in the ‘City Folk vs Hillbillies’ horror genre which is really saying something when you think about how outthere some of the other films in this genre are (Deliverance and it’s ‘squeal like a pig’ sequence springs to mind and that was a studio film!).

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The film starts almost like a zany and not very funny comedy movie made for TV about the two witless and dull couples deciding to live in the wilderness for the weekend (you almost expect the TV listing to include the words ‘with hilarious consequences!’). Thank God the makers of this decided on making a horror movie instead. In the genre it’s quite natural to set up irritating characters to have them despatched by the ruthless killer. It puts the audience firmly on the side of the killer as we root for him to kill the boring couples in even more of a sick and twisted fashion.

I love the fact that the couple of guys decide to eat with the hunter whilst being blissfully unaware that a) he is the killer and b) the meat on the barbecue could very well be the remains of one of the women who arrived before them and was promptly bumped off.

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I also love the fact that the ghosts of the killer’s children appear to the campers to warn them that ‘Daddy’s gone a-huntin’!’ and to warn them if he’s near.

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The kills are gory (thankfully) and the scenery is glorious. This isn’t some lost gem of the horror genre but I’ve seen much, much worse. Check out the DVD/Blu ray release of this and compare with the VHS transfer thats on YouTube. The difference is astounding.

3 out of 5 stars

 

The Forest (1982) – Day 21 – 31 Days of Halloween

The Forest (1982) – Day 21 – 31 Days of Halloween

I first saw this when I lived in Sydney, Australia. There was a great video store there called Dr What. Instead of replacing old titles with newer movies they just add to their collection. This is more like a movie archive than a video shop.

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And so I saw this entertaining, offbeat and lurid horror movie when it had long become out of print.

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A group of four city folk decide to go camping in them there woods. They quickly realise that things aren’t as they should be. A killer is hunting them for food (isn’t KFC just easier?) and the ghosts of firstly his dead children appear to the campers to warn them (you can tell theres something strange about them as their voices sound like they’re speaking in an echo chamber) and then the ghost of his dead wife.

The idea of these apparitions appearing to guide the living and warn them of the killers presence is a novel idea and very effective. ‘Where is he know?!’ asks one of the campers. ‘Right behind you!’ replies the children with relish. And they’re right!


It appears that the killer bumped off his wife after catching her in the sack with another man. The flashback fight scene between these two men has to be seen to be believed. Kinetic and deranged are two words that just don’t do it justice.


The fact that Killer Dad explains this backstory to two of the campers is reminiscent of an early Scooby Doo episode. But with actual ghosts rather than a janitor wearing a rubber mask resplendent with flourescent paint. Oh, and if there were throat slashings.


And add to that a doom laden 80s score which includes a few unintentionally funny pop ditties and you have the recipe for a great movie.

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Off kilter, quirky and full of character. Check it out. 3 out 0f 5