Monday, July 21, 2014

REVIEW: Southern Comfort (Shout Factory! Blu-ray) - The Shout that Should Be the Scream

There are titles that belong on the Shout label, and then there are certain titles that belong on the Scream Factory label, subdivision of Shout dedicated to Horror, Scif-Fi and dark cinema. To my surprise Southern Comfort is a release on the Shout label which doesn't wholly make sense to me. He we have a revenge flick. A down and dirty, southern mess of a revenge flick complete. Southern Comfort brings the backwoods home and fills it up with all the nasty things you don't want to see done to those closest to you. Sure it's a war flick too I suppose, involving a bunch of reservists in a train exercise getting caught in a precarious situation after stealing some locales' boats in the bayou, but the tone of the movie is not unlike your typical Hillbilly Horror movie. Needless to say, as a fan of the backwoods brand of honest to goodness, revenge by whatever means necessary, I loved Southern Comfort.

Synopsis from Shout!:

Nine National Guardsmen enter the Louisiana swamp for routine training, but an error in judgment by one of the team incites an all-out war with some angry Cajuns who know the territory like the backs of their hands. Armed with a precious few bullets, and confused by the dimly lit, moss-covered maze into which they've stumbled, the guardsmen know they'll be picked off one by one, until they come up with a solution using the only resources they have left...their wits.

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What stands out about this release is the quality of actors. It's the kind of cast that makes you take notice and is the difference from a shark picture and Jaws. To say that Southern Comfort is the Jaws of the Hillbilly genre might be a bit of stretch, but it's not far off. Keith Carradine, Powers Booth, Fred Ward, TK Carter... these are awesome names in cinema. Fred Ward alone garners a horror history that is masterful. I recently had the chance to enjoy him in Remo Williams too. Beyond that my annual Tremors viewing is good enough to give him some kind of royal title in the world of Horror and Dark Fantasy. TK Carter is a special case for me. Sure he was in The Thing, but he was also in Dr. Detroit! Once you bring together a group like this all you need is a solid plot and some dialogue to fill in the rich, heartfelt performances in between the credits.

If Southern Comfort is lacking from anything it isn't suspense or tension. It is however a bit obvious and some of the dialogue or twists feel forced, but either way, the movie gets you to the point. It makes you scared to head into the south, the Bayou, Cajun country.

The movie is beautifully shot and the Shout transfer is brilliant. The disc contains interviews with Powers Boothe and Keith Carradine, Lewis Smith and director Walter Hill. 

Note: 1080p HD 1.78:1, DTS-HD Audio Mono. It's a combo disc that also comes with a DVD though this review focuses on the Blu-ray.

Now I know that Shout! isn't marketing this movie as a horror film, and it's on the cusp at best, but it's dark enough to mandate the inclusion in any horror fans library. It also has crossover potential with popular cinema as well as army film fanatics. It makes me want to watch Turkey Shoot badly and any movie that can do that has a special, dark vibe that almost makes you feel dirty while rooting for the "good guy" soldiers just the same as the viewer understanding the position of the "bad guy" Cajuns.

Order your copy of Southern Comfort through Shout's website.

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