This is a movie which is perhaps more notorious than it is well-known, and even that notoriety was relatively short-lived. The producer, Samuel Rael, used to be an attorney, and one of his most regular clients was a low-level criminal called Gary Hilton. Hilton and Rael became friends, and when Rael got out of the lawyering business, Hilton operated as an unpaid producer / ideas man on this movie. He found the location (a shack in the Georgia wilderness) and came up with the plot, about a guy kidnapping and hunting beautiful women in the woods. A little over a decade later, Hilton was arrested and charged with the murder of a young woman, whose body was found in very similar terrain 30 miles from that shack. He’s since been charged with a number of other murders, with some similarities to the plot of this movie, and if you like you can read about his story here.
If that rather chilling detail isn’t enough to put you off, then perhaps the involvement of Donald Farmer and his regular actor Danny Fendley will send you over the edge. Farmer is only credited with “additional scenes”, as most of the movie is filmed competently by credited director Mark Bender, with sufficient lighting and camera coverage, and is therefore unlike any other Farmer work. Fendley is supposed to be the villain, but with his inability to act and high-pitched southern accent, he’s not remotely threatening – in other words, just like every other time we’ve seen him on screen.
The basic gist of this movie is yet another riff on “The Most Dangerous Game”, that idea so beloved of cheap movie producers (all you need is a forest, a villain and a few victims). Fendley is Bobby Wilson, a wealthy property developer who has a hobby he keeps from his wife and son – that he picks up prostitutes, strippers, and transients, flies them in his little plane to his cabin in the woods, then releases, hunts and kills them. This has been going on for some time, if the statistics spouted by one of the cops later on is to be believed, so clearly Bobby is getting bored as he breaks what must be rule 1 in the “psycho kidnap-murderer handbook”: don’t leave witnesses. He hits on two women in a bar, takes one and leaves the other, so when the friend disappears off the face of the earth, there’s a fairly clear route back to him.
Luckily for him, the police are almost comically indifferent, and when Barbara (Amy Bush) goes to report her friend’s abduction, the desk sergeant just says “she’ll be fine, stop worrying about it”. When the one cop who seems to give a damn (Joe Spivey, the sole screen credit for one David Jacob) trots out statistics about the rather high volume of local missing persons cases, the other cops get angry with him, saying no-one wants to cause a fuss. Amazing!
So, Barbara, Joe, and some old guy whose introduction I must have slept through because I had no idea why he was there or who he was related to, try and work out who the killer is, while Bobby just carries on murdering people in classic Donald Farmer “act 2 is just act 1, repeated” style. You’d expect the net to start closing in on Bobby at some point, but you’d be wrong – although Joe gets an arrest warrant after a lucky break with a pen that Joe foolishly gave Barbara just before abducting her friend, Bobby trumps that by blowing up the police helicopter with a bazooka (!) and to all intents and purposes getting away with the fairly high number of murders, entirely scot free. Okay, I understand the legal system works differently if you’re rich, but even wealthy people can’t use high explosives on cops and expect to suffer no consequences, surely?
Bobby’s plane is blown up by a woman trying to escape at one point, but a few scenes later he’s got another one, presumably thanks to the insurance (although this is never stated). You’d think the insurance people would check the wreckage and find evidence of a human body in there, or perhaps he’s with my favourite company, “Lazy Useless Insurance Ltd”.
“Deadly Run” is a classic example of having your cake and eating it. Presumably, the people who made the movie don’t want to tell you that it’s fine to abduct, hunt, and kill women, so at the very very end the bad guy gets his comeuppance. But they also can’t think of anything to put in it other than women in peril, so a good 90% of its running time is repeated scenes of just that. Bobby’s life doesn’t unravel in any way, the police don’t step up their investigations, nothing. Just killing people (including a few hunters wandering across his property, presumably to head any criticisms of misogyny off at the pass) and the occasional scene of Barbara looking a bit sad.
I appreciate I’m just a critic, and people like Mark Bender (who never made another movie after this, I think the IMDB credits are for a different guy with the same name unless he just took a decade out) got out there and actually did it. But I just don’t understand why this movie was made. “The Most Dangerous Game” is responsible for so many movies, endless variations and retreads of the same theme, so it’s not original, it’s not fun to watch, the acting is pretty weak and it’s full of holes (how does a property developer buy a bazooka with multiple reloads?)
Donald Farmer didn’t have enough of a hand in this to make it fun in his own unique way, so in the end it’s just deeply, deeply dull. Strictly for the Farmer completists (if anyone can think of a fun collective name for we fans of the man’s work, please let me know).
Rating: thumbs down