86 Min. / Directed by Harry Kerwin / Code Red, Dark Force
Seventies low-budget Florida grindhouse drive-in movies are like a genre of film all unto themselves. You know right out off the bat that you’re getting something cheap, grimey, and unseemly. For the respecting cult videophile such as myself, it’s what we live on. God’s Bloody Acre checks all the requisite exploitation checkboxes and then some.
A group of unsuspecting travelers – an architect (Wayne Crawford) tired of building war machines for “the man” and ready to go on an Easy Rider bike trip; a woman (Jennifer Stock) escaping from her abusive boyfriend in a cool seventies van; and an older married couple bickering as they travel down the road in their RV – find themselves spending the evening in a desolate Florida wood inhabited by a group of mountain men (among them is Blood Feast star William “Rooney” Kerwin in a different type of role) who have vowed to take revenge against those who trespass on their land. After randomly throwing rocks at the construction equipment of a work crew, the backwood boys score themselves an accidental homicide, upping the ante and ensuring a bloody night of vengeance.
As a native Floridian, there’s something deeply nostalgic about this movie. All the characters drive down what appears to be the exact same road in this film, I’ll call it “Florida Road” because it’s that signature narrow Floridian backroad lane with those skinny trees and random houses tucked into the back of nowhere. Even though I never drove down the exact road in this movie, I’ve driven down Florida Road for decades of my life and anyone else who shares this same affinity for the curious wiles of the Sunshine State – the overall weird transient vibe of the place, favored by serial kiler nationwide as a stomping ground – then you’ll absolutely dig this film.
The film goes into high gear toward the end of the film when an assault scene reminiscent of Susan George’s famous gang scene in Straw Dogs kicks off a chain of events resulting in massacre and mayhem. Of course you’ve got wade through a lot of boring driving scenes before that, but as I said, if you love Florida Road, you’ll get a lot of it. Despite the low-budget production values and opening filler, the film feels competently directed by Harry Kerwin (brother of William), avoiding some of the technical pitfalls that plague similar backwoods exploitation efforts. Along with the presence of the Kerwins, the film also earns its Florida street cred by featuring Blood Stalkers lead Jerry Albert in the role of a disinterested construction foreman.
After languishing for years on VHS, God’s Bloody Acre was released by Code Red in a couple different DVDs editions. The first release featured different transfers of the film along with cast and crew featurettes. Their second release dropped the extras and made the film a double feature with Tomcats. Home video upstart Dark Force Entertainment have again dropped the extras and released the film on HD in a drive-in double feature Blu-Ray paired with So Sad About Gloria. The sole extra on this blu-ray are some vintage drive-in short features and the ability to watch both movies in a simulated “drive-in double feature” mode. It’s hard to say that the blu-ray improves much on the DVD; the soft muddy 16mm blow-up features colors that fluctuate oddly and littered with film scratches. The rough presentation obviously stays true to what a chewed-up drive-in 35mm print would look like, adding to the retro experience it all.