• Savage Weekend

    Released by: Scorpion Releasing/Kino Lorber
    Released on: September 29th, 2015.
    Director: David Paulsen
    Cast: Caitlin O'Heaney, David Gale, Jeff Pomerantz, William Sanderson, Yancy Butler
    Year: 1980
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    The Movie:

    Savage Weekend was made in 1976 but not released until 1980 when Cannon Films got it into theaters. The film was directed by David Paulson and shot in upstate New York (keep your eyes open for a Genesee Beer neon light early in the movie!) with an interesting cast.

    When the movie begins in New York City, Marie (Marilyn Hamlin) hands off her son to her ex-husband, Greg (Jeffrey Pomerantz), so that she can take off for the weekend with her new beau, Robert (Jim Doerr), her sister Shirley (Cailin O’Heaney), Robert’s co-worker Jay (Devin Goldenberg) and their gay friend Nicky (Christopher Allport) for a weekend away. See, Robert has recently purchased an old farm house from a guy named Clarence and they can’t wait to check it out.

    They stop along the way for supplies, at which point Nicky heads into a local bar and gets into a fight with a pair of rednecks, and then they’re on their way. They arrive and get settled but are soon disturbed by Otis (William Sanderson), the brother of the now deceased Clarence. See, along with the house there was also a partially completed boat included in the deal and Ottis feels, since he was helping his brother build it, that his is his stuff and that these city slickers shouldn’t be messing around with it. Later the next day, while Shirley and Jay are screwing around au natural, Roger and Marie go fishing with Mac (David Gale), a logger who helps out around the place. He tells them that Otis is nuts, that he once branded a woman with the letter ‘H’ for whore… only Otis was too dumb to realize that the word started with ‘W’ and not ‘H.’ Marie is a little unsettled by this, but there’s obviously an attraction between she and Mac.

    It isn’t long before Robert has fired Otis and put Jay in charge of the boat, but that night around dinner time when Jay and Shirley have a squabble, he heads out to the barn to cool off and doesn’t return and someone is running around in a cheap Halloween mask committing murder most foul!

    This one is made up of one of the most sexually frustrated cast of characters you can imagine. Robert only have eyes for Marie but she’s got eyes for Robert and for Mac and can’t help but have sexual fantasies about Greg whenever things get hot and heavy. Jay wants to get it on with Shirley and he does, but she’s way too flirty with Nicky to ever be loyal to him. But wait… isn’t Nicky gay? He sure is, but when he peeps in on Jay boffing Shirley in the grass he grips a nearby barbed wire fence so hard his hands start to bleed. Mac notes to Marie how pretty she is and how foxy her sister is while Otis mutters to his brothers grave about how these ladies get him all fired up. There’s a scene here where Marie wanders into the barn, is followed by Mac, and starts to tenderly stroke a phallic cow utter. Mac comes over and strokes it harder so that the milk ejaculates into Marie’s hand, and at that point he rubs it on her leg. He pushes her against a rail and forces her to make out, and she does fight back to an extent, but then sees her ex in the corner (Is he there? Isn’t he there?)! Such ribald behavior!

    As far as the ‘horror’ element of Savage Weekend goes, it’s not bad at all. The movie takes a little while to get out of catty, goofy, sexy territory and start focusing more on the stalk and slash motifs you’d expect but once it does, it’s solid. The kills tend to revolve around various tools found in the barn and around the house and they’re reasonably bloody if not over the top gory. What’s impressive about them isn’t the carnage so much as it is the creativity behind them and the build up to the actual murder set pieces. Case in point? Shirley, who looks a bit like Sherilyn Fenn from Twin Peaks, struts around the house in fancy lingerie in an attempt to get Nicky’s attention. The camera follows her, cuts to Nicky, goes back to her – then we learn that the killer is there, his presence firmly established. After that, well, we don’t want to spoil what happens to whom and when but at times you get the impression that in Paulsen’s mind the chase is better than the hunt. And if that doesn’t get you intrigued, how about this…. Machete versus chainsaw!!!!

    The locations work well here. The movie’s cinematography and lighting isn’t all that fancy but it’s technically proficient enough to do what needs to be done and a few eerie shots of the masked killer skulking about impress. The cast are interesting here too. Not only do we get Re-Animator’s David Gale playing the hunky woodsman complete with an impressive moustache, but we get Sanderson running around at his sleazy seventies peak in a role that’s not too far removed from the character her played in Fight For Your Life (both were made around the same time which explains the physical similarities). Jeff Pomerantz popped up in more soap operas than you can shake a stick at and while Marilyn Hamlin’s career was pretty short she did show up in Shaft’s Big Score. Christopher Allport, the bar-brawling queen, not only showed up a few years later in Friedkin’s To Live And Die In L.A. but he also appeared in both of those Jack Frost killer snowman movies! The frequently naked (hooray!) Caitlin O’Heaney recently appeared in Adrián García Bogliano’s Late Phases but is definitely recognizable from a lot of TV work she did after Savage Weekend. And that little kid, Mac’s daughter, who appears in the movie for about thirty seconds? That’s Yancy Butler in her big screen debut, years before she’d rise to fame in TV shows like South Beach and Witchblade as well as features like Hard Target and Drop Zone.


    Savage Weekend debuts on Blu-ray in 1.85.1 widescreen in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer. The film was released years back by Cheezy Flicks and a few other fly-by-night operations on DVD in a terrible looking cut edition that can now thankfully be tossed in the trash thanks to Scorpion’s efforts here. This one still shows its low budget roots and detail does vary from scene to scene sometimes but this transfer is MILES above past releases. Color reproduction is a little on the flat side but it suits things well enough while black levels are pretty solid here. Detail doesn’t compete with newer, bigger budgeted features in HD but compared to what we’ve had before it’s a revelation and you can actually see what’s going on in those darker scenes now, which is always a plus. There are a couple of quick blink-and-you’ll-miss-them bigger scratches but literally just a few, while minor white specks pop up throughout playback but it’s never really distracting while the fairly grainy image is stable throughout and free of any compression issues or noise reduction. This isn’t a film that will or probably ever should look absolutely perfect but again, the improvement here over earlier editions… it’s like night and day.

    The English language DTS-HD 2.0 Mono track sounds alright for what it is. There are a couple of times where the music seems a bit loud in the mix but otherwise it’s fine. Dialogue is clean, clear and easy to follow and when that chainsaw rips, there’s a surprising amount of punch behind it. No alternate language options or subtitles are provided.

    The primary extras on the disc are a trio of interviews, the first of which is an eighteen minute piece with William Sanderson (who sports a faux-hawk!). This is a pretty interesting piece in which he talks about how he got the part, how a lot of his footage was shot away from what the rest of the cast and crew were dealing with, how he used footage from this film to show Ridley Scott to help convince him to give him the role in Blade Runner and more. He also talks about a few other projects he’s been involved in over the years and offer up his thoughts on this film.

    Caitlin O'Heaney is up next as she spends twenty-four minute talking about how she got into acting, how she took the part in Savage Weekend to get a SAG card and her feelings on horror films. Her memory is pretty fuzzy about the shoot itself, but she does discuss having to do nudity in the picture, and is quite keen on talking about some of the other film projects she’s been involved with over the years.

    The third and final interview is with Jeff Pomerantz and it’s a seventeen minute piece. Here he speaks about how his agent was friendly with the film’s producer which led to him taking the part, his thoughts on working with director David Paulson and executive producer John Mason Kirby, how he got along with the different cast and crew members and other films that he’s worked on since Savage Weekend.

    Aside from that we get a theatrical trailer for the feature, static menus and chapter selection.

    The Final Word:

    Savage Weekend takes a bit of time to get down to business but the journey is an interesting and twisted one and thankfully the big finish pays off nicely. Some great kill scenes, a weird score, effective location and an interesting cast make this one work quite well and the Blu-ray release from Scorpion and Kino is a strong one. The movie has always looked like garbage on video but here it’s treated to a strong transfer, decent audio and some excellent supplements to round things out very nicely.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!