Baker County, U.S.A (1982)

About the Author: R.D Francis is a writer specializing in rock ‘n’ roll biographies, along with horror and sci-fi novellas. You can read his music and film criticisms on Medium and learn more about his work on Facebook.

Here’s another one of those hicksploitation romps, like Ruckus and Kiss My Grits, that can be whatever a distributor wants it to be: a Smokey and the Bandit good ‘ol boy potboiler (Baker County, U.S.A), a Deliverance-styled suspense thriller (Trapped), or a straight up slasher flick (The Killer Instinct). Call it whatever you want, the film, shot for $2 million by William Fruet, the “Roger Corman of Canada,” is basically the canuxploitation-version of the later-shot Hunter’s Blood (1986), itself a retread of John Boorman’s 1972 hicksploitation trendsetter, Deliverance. So this movie is a two-in-one: a canux and hicks exploitation flick!

The real jewel of this entertaining and well-shot, yet familiar rural-revenge retread is the always awesome-in-everything-he-does Henry Silva (1983’s Escape from the Bronx) who goes off the rails as Henry Chatwill, the overseer of a backwood-inbred Tennessee enclave. Henry’s the type of good ‘ol boy who can shimmy-sham in the woods with any woman he wants when he goes trap settin’, but heavens to betsy his young wife cheats on him with a citified county inspector. (Beware of that perpetually-boiling hot tar vat, you dumb city varmint!)

So . . . when the obligatory school of out-of-water college fishies searching for a backwoods cave for a school research project—led by Nicholas Campbell (2017’s Neverknock, HBO’s The Hitchhiker), along with Joy Thompson (1980’s Prom Night) and Gina Dick (1981’s My Bloody Valentine) in tow—stumbles into Silva torturing his wife’s lover via a good ‘ol fashion tar and featherin’, Silva goes into Jason Vorhees-mode to distribute some redneck justice to those snoopin’ city kids. And don’t ya’ll be botherin’ the town sheriff for help—this here be Blood Salvage country and the sheriff, well he be “kinfolk” who covers up the killin’.

If all of this backwoods shenanigans sounds the same (but offers a unique hick-impaled-by-TV antenna scene and an unstoppable Silva doused in hot tar) that’s because it’s penned by ‘80s slasher-scribe John Beaird, who penned the entertaining My Bloody Valentine and Happy Birthday to Me. The director’s chair is filled by the man who also brought you the UK Section 3 backwoods-rape video nasty Death Weekend (1976, aka House by the Lake), and the Alien-inspired AIDS cautionary tale, Blue Monkey (1987).

B&S Movies will be reviewing UK Section 3 Video Nasties in the upcoming weeks, which will include a deeper peek into Fruet’s Death Weekend. In the meantime, be sure to catch up on B&S Movies’ exploration of the films on the UK’s Video Nasties Section 1 and Section 2 rosters. You can also visit B&S Movies to catch up on more North of the Border Horror, aka canuxploitation.

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