Saturday, October 31, 2009

HORROR EPICS: Deliverance (1972)

What’s that you say? Deliverance isn’t a real horror movie? Surely, you jest. Few movies out there send chills up someone’s spine like the mere mention of Deliverance. How many horror movies have you seen that borrowed heavily from the concept of being out of your element? Whether they took place in the forest, the desert, or even the big city, all of those movies owe a debt to Deliverance. Still need convincing? Fine. Let’s take you out of the city or suburbs for a weekend in the woods. Instead of going golfing or whatever dumb shit you do for fun, you let your dashing survivalist friend talk you into a canoe trip down a river that’s to be rendered nonexistent by an incoming dam. Mind you, you’re not exactly good at this Great Outdoorsman stuff either. After conquering one set of rapids, you feel like you’re ready to take on the world. And oh, does the world have plans in store for you. You thought you could handle rapids? How about you handle getting attacked by backwoods hillbillies? Then try killing one of them and burying his body. Could you deal with your traumatized friend losing his cool and going missing in the river? Can you scale a huge cliff, track down the other assailant, and take him out? After all that, do you still have what it takes to handle the aftermath? No, you don’t. You would’ve been satisfied with the rapids and crumbled under pressure otherwise. And you’d be frightened out of your wits the entire time. Therefore, Deliverance IS a real horror movie and warrants its spot in this year’s edition of Horror Epics: right at the top. If you have an appreciation for the woods, it’s easy to get engrossed in the film’s surroundings. Looking at the scenery with the trees growing out of the water, I wondered aloud if places like this still existed. It made perfect sense to me when Burt Reynolds gave his reason for the canoe trip to one of the locals: “because it’s there.” And it wouldn’t be for much longer. I don’t know about you, but it never ceases to make me nervous when Jon Voight is teetering on the edge of a cliff far above the river. The idea of that drop scares me more than the rapids or hillbillies. Aside from the photography, the best thing about Deliverance is the realism. For the most part, you can see these incidents really happening. Not much feels unnecessary or out of place. The story and setting are simple enough. Everything pans out the way it should, paced much like the current of the river being traveled. Deliverance has aged better than most. Forget about the pigfucker jokes for a minute and look at the big picture the next time you watch it.

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