I remember back when VCRs were still new. I hadn't managed to obtain one of my own, but I wanted to have one more than just about anything. They were coming down in price and a couple of my friends had their own players.

We visited a guy with a videocassette recorder and he had rented a movie called Hunter's Blood. As I said, the home video phenomenon was in its infancy and everyone wasn't obsessed with new releases. In fact, a few years later than this people would simply say they were headed to a video store to rent a "New Release".

People were renting anything that looked interesting. Titles were flourishing and there was product manufactured specifically for the rental market. Most of it was watchable. There was quite a bit of trash, sure, but we liked almost everything we brought home.

Hunter's Blood was no exception. I remember enjoying the movie, but I have not had an opportunity to see it again in all these years.

Movies like Hunter's Blood are being lost. Yes, it and others are on You Tube, but there's no telling how long stuff like it will be there. The only way to ensure movies like this one will survive the long haul will be if they are cleaned up and released on physical media.

I'm sure it will not seem like such a big loss to many individuals. I can't see Leonard Maltin losing any sleep over the loss of cheapo productions like Blood Beach, World Gone Wild, Hollywood Boulevard 2, or Hunter's Blood. But we, the drive-in/horror community, realize the importance of preserving our heritage.

That's why it is critical to give financial support to companies like Shout! Factory, Arrow Video, Kino, Synapse, Vinegar Syndrome, and others. They are the ones making the investment to keep these treasures alive.

And here's where I contradict myself. I bought Hunter's Blood from a duplication service. The company has the most highfalutin name I've ever heard for a bootleg company. The VHS Preservation Society. They had a display at a horror con I was at, and while I hate to give money that could go to one of the aforementioned legit distributors, I really, really, wanted to watch Hunter's Blood again. Happily, the picture is about as good as an old VHS tape conversion gets.

Did Hunter's Blood hold up?

Hell yes. The movie has a pretty good pedigree. It was adapted from a long out-of-print novel by Jere Cunningham. It is a Roger Corman/Concorde release. I think it was more of an acquisition by Rog than an internal production.

Hunter's Blood is your basic Deliverance clone. City slickers take to the woods and run afoul of backwoods degenerates. Deliverance is obviously a great picture, but it's a little too slick for real drive-in audiences. Hunter's Blood is cheap, down, and extremely dirty.

There's a pretty good cast, too. You have the legendary actor Clu Gulager in the lead, with Joey Travolta and Sam Bottoms along for the fun. There's Kim Delaney, Billy Drago, Bruce Glover, and if you squint hard enough you might see Billy Bob Thornton in his first movie role. And Charles Cyphers, Sheriff Leigh Brackett, from Halloween, is on hand as well.

You know the story. Rich urban folks descend to the boonies to get drunk and play hunter. They've heard the rumors about inbred poachers who slaughter deer, and maybe even a human being now and then, for the meat market. There is a meeting between the two factions, which of course goes sour, and before you know it, it's full scale war in the woods.

It's all done really well. The rednecks are absolutely convincing, which is pretty rare for this sort of thing. There's genuine dread and tension. The effects are impressive. Especially a scene with a hick's head blown clean off while his body still twitches that is the best bargain basement effect I've seen this side of an Italian cannibal opus.

On the downside, there are some incredibly bad songs on the soundtrack, and the character made some astonishingly stupid decisions. These things scarcely hurt the enjoyment of the movie.

Hunter's Blood is a good example of direct to video exploitation from the mid-1980s. It was a fun, nostalgic experience to see it again after all this time. If some company makes the sound decision to release it on Blu-ray, I'll certainly purchase a copy.

Written by Mark Sieber

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