VHS REVIEW: HUNTER’S BLOOD (1987)

“Out There, No One Can Hear You Scream.”

Year Of Release: 1987
Format:  VHS Slipcase
Distributor: Embassy Home Entertainment 

The film follows five intrepid hunters (played by Sam Bottoms, Clu Gulager, Ken Swofford, Joey Travolta, and Mayf Nutter) as they decide to go on their annual camping/hunting trip into the deep dark woods of the south that Al’s(Swofford) company just purchased for development.  Al and Mason(Gulagar) pick up David(Bottoms) early in the morning, taking him from the loving arms of his new bride Melanie(a young Kim Delaney).  At the airport they round out the rest of the ragtag group by picking up Ralph(Nutter), Al’s brother, and Marty(Travolta, yes, John’s brother).  David is working towards becoming a doctor, Al owns a successful development company, It’s never clear as to what Mason does, Ralph’s the drunken big city lawyer, and Marty is the whiney son of one of his clients that just HAD to come along.  Once set to go, they head off towards the Southern mountains in a huge SUV (ah, back when gas prices wouldn’t drive you broke and you could drive a sweet, huge, mother of a 4×4).After the popularity of DELIVERANCE, as with any     popular movie, a rather large swath of copycats, some good, some downright awful.  Movies such as SOUTHERN COMFORT, RITUALS, WITHOUT WARNING, THE FINAL TERROR, etc. were produced during the late 70′s and throughout the 80′s.  One such flick that, fortunately for me, falls into the “good” category is HUNTER’S BLOOD.

They all get to know each other a little better on the way, explaining what they do and who they are for the benefit of the newcomer Marty.  When the pavement turns to dirt is when the fun begins.  They pull up to this gas station in the middle of nowhere to fill up (for friggin’ $20, FUCK). While Al goes in to look for beer, the others stay in the SUV.  They notice a couple of cliche’d “good ‘ol boys” standin’ over a barbecue pit, faces smeared with sauce and blood.  The new blood, Marty, mr. yankee accent and all, decides to start taking pictures against the better judgement of the others.  Needless to say, the good ‘ol boys come strollin’ over. “Whatchoo want with mah pikture, I ain’t never done nuthin’ ta you.”  Marty clams up and the talkative of the two hillbillies starts making threats.  This is the first time Mason demonstrates a somewhat edgier side to him by telling the good ‘ol boy that there’s no film in the camera, just as he’s ripping the film out.  About that time, Al comes out, unsuccessful at finding any beer, and they take off.

On down the road a ways, they spot a juke joint, redneck lookin’ place they all refer to as a “redneck bar”.  Looking for a bit of adventure, they decide to stop and check it out, with Marty saying “I’ve never been to no redneck bar before.”  The sign on the door even says “No Colords.”  When they walk into the place (which looks kind of like the interior of the Boar’s Nest from Dukes of Hazzard), a hushed silence falls over the whopping 5 customers.  The barmaid informs them that they’ve got a choice of Bud and Bud.  Drinkin’ their beers, David decides to have a little fun with her and talk all about his relation to Bruce Springstein.  Just as she starts to believe him, the boys start laughing and then the trouble starts.  The 5 customers in the back get up and tell the others that they’re not leavin’ until they pay $50 a piece, and the big one pulls a knife.  Mason goes into ass kicking gear and tears the fucker a new one, afterward demanding a case of beers.  Then, of course, they split.

There’s a chase, Dukes Style, down a country dirt road, but the city slickers lose them by hopping a ditch and off roading it into the woods where the rednecks can’t follow.  Once in the woods, they drive around for a bit and then stop to set up camp.  While the others are goofing off, Mason and David decide to take their guns and wander around the area when they run into some spooked forest rangers.  The forest rangers play the part of the “crazy guy warning the kids to get lost before they’re…DOOMED”.  They talk of a tribe of wildmen living in the woods, slaughtering deer for meat they sell to some unscrupulous meat company for hamburgers (Razorback Meats), and they wouldn’t be too happy to find anyone in “their” woods.  On the way back to camp, Mason spots some boot prints circling the camp that don’t belong to any of the group.

That night, part of that wildman tribe comes into camp and starts to harrass the city boys, threatening to take their boots and rape them.  Mason and David pop out of the woods with guns to chase them off.  This is the first encounter of many that sets off a string of extreme backwoods violence as the tribe of wildmen begin to stalk and hunt the group of city boys, much like DELIVERANCE.

Among the DELIVERANCE clones, this one does a pretty good job.  The director never claims to be doing something original and the original advertising for the straight to video flick has a tagline reading “In the vein of Deliverance.”  The hillbilly cheese factor is played up in spades, creating a sometimes menacing, sometimes laughable atmosphere.  The gore, though sparse, is pretty good with plenty of squibs.  There are a few memorable gags like a kinfe if the throat, Melanie using deer antlers to stab a guy to death, and an awesome scene where a guys face is blown away by a shotgun and we see his twitching body laying on the ground, head half gone.  The characters were rather likeable, even the whiney Marty, but, I mean, there’s ALWAYS a whiney one and someone has to play the role.  Billy Drago plays one of the crazy redneck wildmen and he’s ALWAYS creepy.  I mean, everything that guy is IN, even when he’s playing a good guy, he’s creepy as fuck.

So far, HUNTER’S BLOOD isn’t out on dvd, unless of course you count a bootleg copy (and they’re out there, of course).  But if you can find it on VHS and you love rednecks-chasin’-city-boys-in-the-woods movies,then definitely check this one out!

Click on the photo below for a better shot of the full box art: