Friday, May 20, 2011

Deadly Harvest

(Timothy Bond, 1977)

This bad movie was ahead of its time, positing climate change as a harbinger of the end times, with resultant food shortages rendered catastrophic by the obligatory bunch of corrupt politicians in a transparent stretch-er-out prologue. Hollywood old-timer Clint Walker heads a good farming family caught between marauding urban thieves and a corrupt vigilante farmer mob which tragically seduces his son. Walker’s AM-radio style delivery definitely takes some getting used to, but he sure shows up the rest of the cast: it’s amateur hour all the way, and that condition is viral behind the camera as well, especially in the excruciating master-shot exposition scenes of the first act. If you’re extremely forgiving, it’s possible as the film wears on to appreciate the action scenes and care about some of the characters. When city dad meets country dad and they come to realize the tragedy of their mutual debasement, one assumes that they are about to team up for the common good. Instead they take their debasement and run with it: city dad pulls a Jim Jones on his family, while Walker decides that vigilantism isn’t so bad after all, especially when enacted with a front end loader. Thus the film spares the viewer much agonizing over whether intellectual attainments can redeem utter technical incompetence, by dragging both down to the same rocky bottom. Somehow I am not too thankful for this.

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