Saturday, 18 February 2012

Sunday in the Country



SUNDAY IN THE COUNTRY (aka VENGEANCE IS MINE, BLOOD FOR BLOOD) (1974)

Directed by: John Trent
Screenplay: Robert Maxwell & John Trent
Starring: Ernest Borgnine, Michael J. Pollard, Cec Linder, Al Waxman, Hollis McLaren

Tough as nails exploitation flick from the era that defined such films this sees movie hard man Ernest Borgnine at his rock solid best, dishing out violent, shotgun-blasting justice. Three crooks on the lam pull over to help out a couple changing a flat on the side of the road. Intending to take the car, things get out of hand when the youngest and fieriest of the group (Pollard) kills the man and takes off after the girl, hoping to have his way with her. The other two stop him but have to kill the girl, leaving no witnesses behind. Making cross-country they happen on a farm and decide to see if they can shack up there and lay low. However, the farm is home to a one Adam Smith (Borgnine), a tough God-fearing man who’ll have none of it. Religious to a T, Smith hears of the crooks' escape and the slaying of the young couple: a young couple he just happened to know. Seeing an opportunity to administer vengeance he holds the crooks hostage, torturing and tormenting them as he plays with their lives. Soon enough, the “good guy” is becoming badder than the actual “bad guys.”

Rough, ready and shot mainly in one isolated farm location, Sunday in the Country is grindhouse through and through. Borgnine towers over everybody as the mean and moody Smith serving up as many sermons of violence as he does those of God. Borgnine, however, does keep his character the right side of caricature, never turning him into a pantomime crazy man but as a man who has lost his way with his obsession to his faith and his need to teach these scumbags a lesson. The film nicely plays on the fact that not all the bad guys might be as bad as they seem, though Michael J. Pollard’s scuzzy youngster certainly is meaning some of vengeance given out is at least justified. Being an old school exploitation flick the pace does drag in places and the tension is not always sustained but the sudden bursts of extreme violence are certainly jarring meaning the film and Smith’s actions will stick with you. Not least a bit with two very hungry and vicious dogs and one poor unlucky chap.

And as is expected with such a film of the type, Sunday in the Country is certainly not a happy film and builds to a very nihilistic finale that gives the film an emotional punch a lot of low budget revenge flicks sometimes miss. With its neat twist on who the bad guy really is, Sunday in the Country is well worth tracking down (if you can find a copy) for fans of exploitation cinema and shotgun blazing, justice serving action.

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