Getaway (2020)

I first heard of this indie-budgeted homage to ‘70s drive-in horror films—written and directed by Lane Toran—courtesy of the horror-centric webzine Blood Disgusting back in 2016.

The original theatrical one-sheet

As a teen, Toran found success as an actor on the WB Network (7th Heaven) and as an animated voice artist for the Disney and Nickelodeon Networks (Hey, Arnold!). As a composer, he wrote “Sweet 16” and “Inner Strength” on Hilary Duff’s triple-platinum first album, Metamorphosis. (For you horror dogs: Duff portrayed Sharon Tate in 2019’s The Haunting of Sharon Tate.) Although I never watched any of Toran’s TV series, I was intrigued to hear a child actor beat the so called “child actor curse” and continued to flourish in the business as an adult—and as a horror film director, no less.

Upon a further Internet-investigation of Getaway, I discovered Toran (born Toran Caudell) is the son of actor-musician Lane Caudell,* the star of two of the coolest rock ‘n’ roll films of my ‘80s UHF-TV and video store youth: Goodbye, Franklin High and Hanging on a Star. Courtesy of his son, Getaway marks the first time Lane Caudell has acted in front of the camera since eschewing the acting world—for a behind-the-scenes success in the country music world—after the 1982-1983 season of the NBC-TV U.S. daytime serial, Days of Our Lives.

The new theatrical one-sheet

Toran’s wife Jaclyn Bethan (TV’s NCIS: New Orleans, Grand Hotel), who co-wrote the screenplay, stars as Tamara, a roadside damsel-in-distress on the way to meet her two friends at a lakeside cabin getaway. And along comes the usual, questionable down-home fellas to her rescue: Merv (Toran) and Kib (Noah Lowdermilk; excellent in his acting debut). Once the scuzzy duo gases up her late ‘60s classic Mustang (the girls in these flicks always have a set of classic wheels), Tamara meets up with Maddy (Scout Taylor-Compton; Rob Zombie’s Halloween reboots, Abducted, Eternal Code) and Brooke (Landry Allbright; acting debut as “Casey Poe” in Con Air).

So we’ve got booze and bikinis, partying at a backwoods watering hole, chicks kissing, and two rough-looking knights in dirty armor. Yeah, these girls have just entered the hicksploitation** hills; however, while a familiar road, Toran cleverly screws with the compass and sets up forks and potholes in the road.

And one of those twists comes in the form of Lane Caudell (who’s excellent in his acting return). He isn’t the kindly town sheriff or southern gent I was expecting: he’s a backwoods lothario who masturbates to women’s scalps while he prays to the Lord and he’s concocted a Satan’s Cheerleaders-styled religious kidnap cult (Lane made his debut in that 1977 Greydon Clark T&A exploiter).

So once the mickey is slipped at the local bar, Tamara’s waking up under a tarp in the back of a pickup truck: she’s become the latest victim in Pa Caudell’s master plan to kidnap and impregnate women, then kill them, so the girls can birth “angel babies” in heaven. And regardless of the bible thumpin’, the denizens of the hicksploitation woods always enjoy a barn rape ‘n’ torture session before they restock the angel corps.

That is until Tamara cooks up a little supernatural surprise.

Toran’s feature film debut is nicely shot, edited with suspense and displays his confidence and competency as a director. The acting from everyone is solid (again, Lowdermilk and Caudell Sr. shine) in a story that, courtesy of its tight 70-minute runtime, will slide nicely into a SyFy Channel programming block.

Toran was obvious battling the same obstacles all indie filmmakers face—regardless of genre—without the backing of a film studio. Considering the long, four-year road to get his debut film to its inevitable DVD and streaming debut, it was well worth the trip. Toran’s created an outstanding calling card to show the industry he’s arrived as a director. I see more work behind the camera in his future . . . and hope Caudell Sr. does more in front of it.

You’ll be able to enjoy Getaway courtesy of Uncork’d Entertainment on April 14. And we are digging “Slow Rise Lady,” the grungy-country tune from the Deacons on the film’s closing credits. As of September 2020, Getaway is now available as a free-with-ads stream on TubiTV.

* You can learn more about the life and career of Lane Caudell with the retrospective “Lost Somewhere on the Road between Franklin High and Nashville: The Life and Career of Lane Caudell” on Medium.

** You can learn more about hicksploitation cinema courtesy of our “Top 70 Good Ol’ Boys Film List” retrospective.

Disclaimer: This movie was sent to us by its PR department. As always: you know that has nothing to do with our feelings on the movie.

About the Author: You can read the music and film reviews of R.D Francis on Medium and learn more about his work on Facebook. He also writes for B&S About Movies.

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