This week's VHS is a new acquisition courtesy of my brother. He was cleaning out his garage and shot me a text of a few tapes found in an old box he thought I might want. Rightly so, as in addition to the Brendan Lee actioner Laser Mission, I snagged this eighties flick called Bullies. It seemed vaguely familiar and it turned out that was for more than a few reasons.
Clay (Stephen Hunter) and Jenny (Janet-Laine Morris) and her son, Matt (John Crombie) move to a town in rural British Columbia only to quickly afoul of the local Ne'er-do-wells, the Cullen clan.
I was quick to discover by looking at the coverbox that this was a Canadian film with some notable names attached. Not only was it produced by the Wizard of Gore himself, Ray Sager and scored by the ubiquitous maestro Paul Zaza, but also directed by Paul “Prom Night” Lynch. Seeing the cast though, I realized I was actually thinking this was another movie, you'll forgive me for getting them confused.
So, let's get this out of the way off the hop. If 1977's Rituals was the Canadian version of John Boorman's Deliverance, then Bullies is the Canuck spin on Sam Peckinpah's Straw Dogs. Though Lynch adds in a Romeo & Juliet subplot with its teenage leads, the escalation of the mild mannered husband being pushed to the edge, and ultimately sent over by the assault of his wife is the driving force of the film. I mean the son even uses a bear trap on one of his attackers... it was smaller for like maybe a raccoon or something, but you get the idea.
Speaking of the love story, Olivia d'Abo is pretty smoking in this. I definitely did not complain about the gratuitous backstroke swimming scene and made me realize why this movie may have still been in my brother's posession. Recalling his huge crush on Some Kind of Wonderful era Mary Stuart Masterson back in the day, I thinking he definitely had a type. But I digress...
|Olivia d'Abo as Becky in Bullies.|
There is some terrific mountain scenery to enjoy in this and I was happy to see - from the Cullens' flashing vintage Canadian currency to Clay mentioning he's gonna fetch the authorities in Burnaby - that this story is actually set in the Great White North. The final battle scene between the two families is decent, but somewhat suffers the same fate as Rituals' climax in that its darkness makes it really hard at times to see WTF is going on.
Bullies was a nice piece of Canuxploitation to stumble upon, but it's probably not going to top anyone's list of maple syrup crime films either.