Open Season

Meet Ken, Gregg and Art. Two weeks each year they get away... with Everything!

Action Drama Thriller
105 min     5.7     1974     USA


Three Vietnam vets have become so conditioned to violence that they have developed psychotic tendencies. They kidnap people, brutalize them, then turn them loose and hunt them like animals. However the father of one of their earlier victims is plotting a vicious revenge against them.


Three veterans of the Vietnam War, Ken, Greg and Art, played by Fonda, Law and Lynch respectively, have struggled to reintegrate back into society after their experiences and though furnished with the trappings of middle-class family life, they take an annual trip into the woods to take out their aggression on the local wildlife. Tiring of their haul of deer and squirrels, they turn their attention to human prey, specifically a holidaying couple (actually having an affair), young Nancy (Cornelia Sharpe) and not-so-young Martin (Alberto de Mendoza, best remembered from _Horror Express_). What follows is a decidedly brutal game of cat and mouse, complete with rape, beatings, humiliation and torture. Taking its cue from as far back as _The Most Dangerous Game_ (1932), this is far more than a traditional 'hunting humans' suspense tale, featuring relentlessly unhinged performances from the three 'bad guys' and an oddly unique couple as the victims. The real hook to the film is the direction by Collinson, more famous as the director of the decidedly more respectable The Italian Job, throwing the viewer right into the midst of the action, showing much of the action from the perspective of the hunted, meaning that the traps and mistreatment come as both a complete surprise and are therefore even more shocking. Freeze-frames mid-action also adds to the jarring, unusual set-up. Fonda delivers an utterly gripping performance, his 'casual evil' a constant threat. Law's clean-cut accomplice a massive departure from his other roles (the likes of _Danger Diabolik!_ and _Barbarella_) and future genre star (_God Told Me To_, _Cut and Run_) Richard Lynch's nerdy runt of the litter, are both excellent foils. Somewhat sandwiched in tone and theme between Deliverance and Rituals, the film delivers more evil sadism than both combined. Daz Lawrence, MOVIES and MANIA
Wuchak wrote:
_**Three obnoxious clowns with guns in the backwoods**_ A couple (Cornelia Sharpe & Alberto de Mendoza) is apprehended by three sadistic goofballs (Peter Fonda, John Phillip Law & Richard Lynch) and taken to the wilderness in northern Michigan for some depraved ‘fun.’ William Holden is on hand in a peripheral role. Based on the book by David Osborn, “Open Season” (1974) is a wilderness crime thriller/survival flick that riffs on “The Most Dangerous Game” mixed with elements of “Straw Dogs” (1971) and “Deliverance” (1972). It’s similar to later movies like “Nightmare at Bittercreek” (1988), “Black Rock” (2012) and “Rust City” (2018). But it’s the least of these IMHO because the clownish antagonists are too annoying in a pompous, nonchalant manner on top of little sympathy being worked up for the victims. As such, the first hour is dramatically tedious but, thankfully, the last act is pretty compelling with an interesting surprise at the end. Meanwhile Sharpe is an exquisite beauty. At the end of the day, it’s not about redemption, but rather universal justice (beyond human courts). The movie runs 1 hour, 44 minutes. The interiors were shot at Pinewood Studios in England on a life-sized set while the exterior scenes of the wilderness cabin & surrounding area were all filmed in Spain, outside Madrid. Additional scenes were done at the Mackinac Bridge, etc. in Michigan. GRADE: C