❉ Horror icon Camille Keaton (I Spit on Your Grave) is back for revenge, but is it killer or filler?
Casting Camille Keaton in a role where she comes under threat from a bunch of intimidating men is sure to evoke her most infamous role, that being the heroine of the notorious video nasty I Spit On Your Grave. The grindhouse style posters accompanying the film’s release suggest that director Sam Farmer is all too aware and happy to sell the film as a throwback to the vengeance themed B-movies of that golden age of illicit video thrills. Whilst Farmer makes the decision to avoid that film’s problematic elements, he also misses out on a lot of aspects that would attract those looking for the straight-ahead, down and dirty, entertainment that grindhouse cinema can provide.
The simple plot of a woman finding herself under siege from a trio of brothers who believe to have claim to the land her house resides on could go any number of ways with any number of genres. In its first act, the film seems to skirt with film noir by kicking off with the image of a woman and a smoking gun cleaning up after what appears to be a bloody crime scene. This soon gives way to what appears to be a type of southern Gothic when the three MacMohan brothers, led by Wayne (a drawling Scott Peel) descend upon her house at night with their guns drawn. The problem is Marsha (Keaton) is waiting behind the door with a pump action shotgun for them.
A simple premise that is rife with potential that could go in any number of directions, story- or genre-wise. A shame then that it takes the least interesting option at every turn, making the script fall apart the longer it goes on. The films brief running time of seventy-four minutes still manages to drag by with its lack of structure and repetitive scenes of people shouting at each other from opposite ends of a hallway.
Farmer, directing from his own script, makes the mistake of thinking people arguing, and mugging, endlessly in locked-off camera shots makes for interesting cinema. Visually it does not work and on a dialogue level it also fails due to the stilted and hammy acting. Gunshot wounds, such as a blown off hand and perforated stomach, are passed off as minor ailments and make for unintentionally humorous scenes; one scene while Wayne coolly taunts Marsha whilst his one-handed brother struggles to put on a shirt in the background is the lone highlight of the film. The longer it goes on, and it really does go on, the funnier it becomes. And then all of a sudden it stops. Much like the film itself does after a number of scenes that offer little in the way of story or plot.
Filmed digitally, it has a nice clean look that at least lets you see what is happening. A shame then that for all its vintage exploitation pretenses it never tries, much less succeeds, at giving Camille Keaton anything interesting or exciting to do. Without her presence one wonders if the film would exist at all.
❉ ‘Cry for the Bad Man’ premiered on DVD and Digital May 5 from Uncork’d Entertainment. Starring Camille Keaton, Karen Konzen, and Scott Peeler Written and directed by Sam Farmer.
❉ Iain MacLeod was raised on the North coast of Scotland on a steady diet of 2000AD and Moviedrome. Has never seen a ghost but heard two talking in his bedroom when he was four. Since then he has become a regular contributor to We Are Cult and FrightFest writing about genre film in all its wonderful strange forms and buys too much physical media whilst living in Glasgow. Iain can be found on twitter @irmacleod77