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  Trapped Henry's a homicidal hick
Year: 1982
Director: William Fruet
Stars: Henry Silva, Nicholas Campbell, Barbara Gordon, Gina Dick, Joy Thompson, Ralph Benmergui, Allan Royal, Sam Malkin, Stuart Culpepper, John Rutter, Danone Camden, Jeff Toole, Jere Beery, Ervin Melton, Wallace Wilkinson
Genre: Horror, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 1 vote)
Review: Idealistic law student Roger Michaels (Nicholas Campbell), his girlfriend Diana (Gina Dick), buddy Lee (Ralph Benmergui) and Southern belle Caroline (Joy Thompson) decide to spend a fun weekend camping in the woods near Baker County, USA. Only to witness maniacal redneck Henry Chatwill (Henry Silva) brutally murdering his wife’s lover. Before long Henry has the terrified city folks trapped and at his mercy, forcing Roger to go against his strident principles if they are to make it out alive.

Ten years after the significantly more potent and poetic Deliverance (1972) a proliferation of backwoods horror movies still perpetuated an image of America’s rural South as a hotbed of homicidal hillbilly rapists. Interestingly a number of these productions were Canadian-made. Such was the case with Trapped, a.k.a. Baker County, USA, which compounds its strange pedigree by casting Henry Silva, an actor of Spanish-Italian descent, as a murderous redneck. Nevertheless the veteran star proves the film’s foremost asset, chewing scenery and flinging spittle at his castmates like a rabid dog. Silva's psychotically sweaty villainy lends Trapped what little energy it has. The curiously casual handling of such potentially potent material by Canucksploitation staple William Fruet saps almost all tension inherent in the plot, edging the film's odd moments of genuine nastiness into camp. A lack of authenticity further undermines Trapped's sense of menace. Its redneck milieu is stolidly televisual, stagy and unconvincing. With the exception of actress Barbara Gordon (delivering the best supporting turn as the film's most conflicted character) the cast of Southern-fried goons look more like comics fresh off performing a skit on the once-beloved variety show Hee-Haw.

As with so many backwoods horror movies the thematic spine of the screenplay by John Beaird, the writer behind My Bloody Valentine (1981), is a clash between 'civilized’ city values and 'savage' rural values. Henry Chatwill lords it over his isolated community by means of a combination of a wilderness survivalist ethos and warped take on Biblical scripture. An early scene has Roger argue with a law professor that no amount of desperation can ever justify committing murder. The plot exists solely to prove him wrong, rendering its moral argument about as one-dimensional as you can get. To its credit the film just about avoids falling into the trap of presenting all Southerners as violent, intolerant deviants by presenting a handful of characters that not only plead for decency but take a stand against Henry. Fruet, being an old exploitation hand, shoehorns in plenty of racy nudity. Which is well and good when we are talking about scenes involving voluptuous Danone Camden as Henry’s hot-to-trot wife or the uncredited topless nymphet that dallies with the villain in an early scene (shocker: the psycho-hillbilly is a huge hypocrite). But deeply problematic when it comes to the scene where Henry and pals strip a screaming Diana just to goad Roger out of hiding. Aside from this lapse into bad taste the finale proves satisfying as Fruet finally busts out the pyrotechnics.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam


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William Fruet  (1933 - )

Canadian director of low-budget horror and thrillers. Best known for the 1976 revenge shocker Death Weekend, Search and Destroy, Spasms with Oliver Reed and the voyeuristic thriller Bedroom Eyes. Has mostly worked in TV since the mid-80s, on shows like Friday the 13th and Poltergeist: The Legacy.

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