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STUDIO: Velocity / ThinkFilm
RUNNING TIME: 91 minutes
• Director’s Commentary
"Take Chained Heat, Deliverance, The Dukes of Hazzard, Wrong Turn, Bloodsport, throw in blender, hit frappe."
Grace Johnston, Jason Padgett, Douglas Tait, Dorian Kingi, Tracy Kay Wolfe, Molly Berg, Nikki Corinne, Patrick Gallaway.
Shit, did I leave that webcam on again?
In the backwoods of Kentucky, hot young country gal, Amber Strickland (Johnston), is on her way to college when she’s jumped by a bunch of rednecks who add her to their stable of other girls that they’ve also kidnapped. Led by good ole boy, Billy Bob (Padgett), the Hackford clan have been carrying out this ritual for generations: have the kidnapped girls fight to the death, with the winner treated to an old fashioned country raping by Billy Bob in the hopes of expanding the clan. But what they didn’t count on was that Amber is a backwoods girl herself, raised by her two older brothers, Brody (Tait) and Bear (Kingi) to be an ass kicker and a name taker. When Brody and Bear get on their missing sister’s trail, and Amber organizes an escape plan from within the Hackford camp, the Strickland clan comes to town for a nice bloody family feud.
Damned if Nunziata doesn’t know how to relax…
For what reason, I can’t explain what it is, I just had a feeling that this could be an interesting little flick…and I wasn’t disappointed. Could be that it was the premise that I checked out online beforehand: a Daisy Duke-type of gal turns the tables on her backwoods abductors, and that there’d be girl-on-girl Thunderdome action. Plus, who doesn’t like some grunting, malformed inbreds added in for a little extra bit of flavor? At the very least, I figured there’d be some spankworthy, Chained Heat kind of female smackdown antics…and there were; but there’s also a surprisingly entertaining story and some not too terrible performances in the mix as well.
"The bad news is y’all two are gonna fight to the death. The good news is afterwards, we’re gonna have ourselves a three way…"
Johnston is the sultry Amber Strickland, and you can tell from the get-go that there’s more to her than just a shapely Southern frame in a wifebeater and cargo pants. See, she’s gots some learnin’ about her and some Dixieland knife-fightin’ skills to boot. When she’s kidnapped by the Hackfords, she’s the only girl in the stable to keep her wits about her and would have been successful in her initial escape attempt if she hadn’t been looking after her “cellmate”, Jenny (Wolfe), a helpless little thing who’s equally as hot. Her big brothers Brody and the mute Bear immediately know something’s up when Amber doesn’t check in from college, so they set out to go get her and make whomever took her wish they’d never been born.
Deep down I know this is wrong…deep, deep, deep, deep down…
The Hackford ringleader is the venerable Billy Bob, a good ole boy who likes to get his fuck on in the family tradition…uh that’d be with his sister, Candy. But since he doesn’t want his young ‘uns to come out looking like Royce and Squirm, his two hideously disfigured, retard inbred cousins, he sends the boys out for some fresh meat come breedin’ time. Along with Amber and Jenny, there’s also Dawn, a goth chick who’s a couple arrows short of a quiver herself. She actually seems to get off on her predicament and shows it by quickly dispatching the unfortunate girl that’s sent to fight her. And the rules are the simple: two girls enter one girl leaves, with Billy Bob presiding in his Lazy Boy and the Hackford clan egging them on. And of course the winning girl’s prize is that she gets split open by the ole Kentucky whitesnake. When it’s Amber’s turn, she survives, and manages to avoid getting snakebit for the moment.
Mutant #1: "Hey, that thar bed is big enough for all of us."
Mutant #2 "When you say ‘us’ you mean – "
Mutant #1: "Yeah, I’m including the three pigs too…"
Meanwhile Brody and Bear are hot on her trail and quickly track her down, setting about their Southern commando tactics to whittle down the Hackfords along the way. Amber tries to hold it together for Jenny and another girl, who was Billy Bob’s latest egg donor. When Amber and Jenny stage a revolt just as Bear and Brody hit the Hackford compound, all hell breaks loose and the blood feud takes on a literal meaning.
Johnston is actually quite good here, not like Scarlett Johansson good, but she puts in some solid work as the tough and smart Amber and even when she’s covered in poo (unfortunate by-product of the escape attempt), she still smolders. Padgett for the most part plays Billy Bob fairly straight, only occasionally dipping into camp, and he’s suitably detestable as the backwoods heavy of the picture. Tait and Kingi take the overprotective, Dixieland Rambo bit a little far at times, but for the most part they’re fine also. The real scene chewers are Berg as Billy Bob’s incestuous sexpot sister and Nikki Corinne as the captive blood thirsty biker chick, Dawn, who also hides a secret. The two Elephant Man inbreds, Squirm and Royce, don’t bring anything you haven’t seen in The Hills Have Eyes, Wrong Turn, or the “Home” episode of X-Files, but they’re fine also and their makeup is suitably good, although somewhat representative of the obviously shoestring budget.
Good to see ole’ Joel Silver at a downhome chick knife fight…
An unexpected bonus is that there’s also some good old school gore in the form of throat slashings, arrow piercings, cinderblock massages, and garden variety eviscerations. This is director Stephen Durham’s first picture (at least according to IMDB) and he stages the action pretty well and keeps things generally on an even keel without letting the campy aspects overwhelm the story, which is also fairly solid. Little too much dues ex machina for Brody and Bear at the end, and generally the film plays out as you would expect it to, but Durham manages to keep it all together. Generally I don’t give this much effort to what could otherwise be just another cheap, low budget slasher / chick fight / inbred hicks run amuck kind of picture – and I’ve reviewed more than a few – but Bloodlines rises above all that and is a pretty good watch. I look for good things from both Durham and especially Johnston in the future.
Gotta say, UFC’s getting more interesting all the time…
The film is shot pretty for the most part fairly well and looks pretty good, although the audio can get maddeningly low at times. I had to make use of the subtitles on more than one occasion. There’s an audio commentary by Durham, but I would have liked to see a behind- the-scenes piece also, which normally I could do without for a movie of this type. There’s also several trailers.