cast: Connie Mason, Thomas Wood, Jeffrey Allen, Ben Moore, and Shelby Livingston
director: Herschell Gordon Lewis
84 minutes (18) 1964 Tartan Terror DVD Region ‘0’ retail
reviewed by Rom Marshall
This early splatter comedy is principally of kitsch value, today, yet the endearing twist ending is often overlooked by genre fans in their hurry to describe the crazy gore scenes. (Look up ‘gratuitous’ and you’ll find cross-references to H.G. Lewis!) The film’s closing ghost town images, and revelations that the killers are haunting America because of a Civil War atrocity in which they were the actual victims, and not descendents of the survivors, adds a noteworthy hair-raising frisson to all the jokiness that’s gone before.
The plot is basic, and only serves the purpose of a framework for the shameless brutality. Ambushers waylay couples in convertibles after they foolishly follow a detour into the hick small southern town of Pleasantville.
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Accepting an invitation to join in the local outdoor festivities to mark a Confederate centenary (which should have been a tip-off that something was wrong), the doomed Yankees find themselves at the mercy of homicidal hillbillies. Deep south inhospitality includes dropping a boulder on a girl, rolling a nail-lined barrel downhill with someone trapped inside it, and barbeque guests roasting on the open fire. In one of the most gleefully sadistic acts of violent mutilation, a distinctly unlucky man gets pulled apart by horses! Naturally, the sheriff disbelieves the whole outrageous story when he’s told it by a pair of escapees.
Essential viewing if you’re keen on 1960s’ horror, this one is a cult favourite of every self-respecting gorehound. The DVD has full-screen presentation, star and director filmographies, a stills and artwork gallery, isolated music score, two trailers, text notes on the film by Billy Chainsaw, and a Dolby digital soundtrack.