Hey, kids! You like backwoods horror/action films? Films like Deliverance, Rituals, Just Before Dawn, Baker County USA and Southern Comfort? Well then, you’re really going to love Hunter’s Blood, one of the least known in the genre with some of the most intense action and suspense sequences in the genre. The story involves a group of city slickers, including David Rand (Sam Bottoms) and his father Mason (Clu Gullager), who go on a country trip to the woods for some nice hunting. Sadly, they stumble upon a family of inbred rednecks who make their money from poaching. Not willing to get themselves caught, these rape-loving cannibals are on their way to make the guys’ life a living hell. Things get personal when David’s wife, Melanie (Kim Delaney), who was on her way to give them a surprise visit, gets herself captured. Now it’s survival of the fittest in one of the most unforgiving wildernesses in the world.
Yes, backwoods horror films are some of my favorites, and this is one of the most intense. Director Robert C. Hughes is obviously trying to make his own version of Deliverance, but he succeeds by giving the film a really natural environment. The first forty minutes are dedicated to letting us know our characters. They’re snub, greedy and think they know everything about life. I found myself not really liking them, with the example of Bottoms and especially Gullager (from Return of the Living Dead) who plays a pretty cool badass. When we finally get to the woods, it’s almost like being in a different planet. It’s damp, claustrophobic and you can barely see anything in front of you. Other than the great direction and scenery, the main thing that sells the movie, however, are the performances. I’ve already talked about how great and natural Bottoms and Gullager are, but I have to give credit to two of the city slickers, Marty, played by Joey Travolta (John’s brother), who plays the perfect spoiled brat. His mental breakdown when things get rough is truly realistic. Then there’s Kim Delaney, who at first looks like your typical girl until things get rough. I was very surprised at how tough she acted, considering how quiet and sensitive she was.
Of course, you can’t talk about the city slickers without talking about the killer inbred family, which features some of the best character actors from the eighties. Their leader, Red Beard, is played by Lee de Broux (the bald drug dealer in Robocop) and he’s the sanest one, giving in a lot of menace. We also have Billy Drago, famous for playing creepy killers, as one of the younger brothers, Mickey Jones as a fat, grungy looking cook of the group and Bruce Glover as One Eye. These psychopaths are some of the most foul-mouthed killers I’ve heard in my life, and some of the stuff that comes out of their mouth is really disturbing.
Not only is the movie very suspenseful, but it’s also pretty damn gory. We have mutilated bodies, explosive squib gunshots, impalings, the works. These people don’t fuck around, and when the city slickers decide to save each other, they become as ruthless as the inbreds. With all it’s greatness however, the ending is a bit of a disappointment, and seemed to me to be more convenient than well-written. I won’t spoil it but if you see it, you’ll know what I mean. But still, this is one of the most violent, scariest and suspenseful backwoods thriller/horror films to come out during the 80’s and it’s ripe for re-discovery! Won’t anybody out there put this out on DVD?