Join us as we explore the wild and offbeat cinema that played the roadshows, drive-ins and grindhouses.
Hey yall! The genre known as "Hixploitation" refers to movies that were created to exploit the cultural stereotypes of Rural American southerners. The subject matter in these types of films usually dealt with such things as motorized moonshiners, deranged backwoods weirdos and racist rednecks (and sometimes combinations of all of those). What makes Hixploitation cinema so entertaining is how it gives movie viewers a look at the lifestyles of country folk be it good, bad or ugly. This installment in our History of Exploitation Cinema series pays tribute to those classic films featuring law breaking liquor makers, inbred wackos, bigoted buffoons and religious rabble! YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE-HAW!
JUST TAKE A SWIG OF THIS MOUNTAIN DEW AND WE'LL BEGIN
Released in the Summer of 1967, Cinemation Industries (the company who brought you pictures with titles like I Drink Your Blood, The Sadist and The Night God Screamed) released Shanty Tramp, a fully foul black and white 72 minute film about a non-conformist (“trampy”) Southern gal who: beds a corrupt traveling evangelist, fends off a violent biker, encourages a semi-pornographic dance competition, hooks up with an impressionable—but unable to resist her charms—African American mama’s “boy,” sets into motion an explosive car crash, kills an unsuspecting family member, revels in a barroom brawl, seduces an innocent man and then cries rape, and has as an incestuous relationship with her severely alcoholic father (Yes, you read correctly!) It's a slice-of-lurid-life painted with broad, garish and salacious strokes and embellished with sixties youth culture, Rock & Roll music, hicks, violence and illicit backwoods activities (Moonshine anyone?!)
Walking Tall (1973) was based on the true story of legendary Tennessee lawman Buford Pusser (Joe Don Baker). In the film, Pusser (played by Joe Don Baker), a pro wrestling champ has returned to his small hometown after several years of being away. Upon his arrival he begins slowly noticing that the place has changed. This is mostly due to a criminal organzation known as the Dixie Mob who are controlling illegal activities in the state. Buford decides to run for Sheriff and when he wins it kicks off a destructive one man war against the corrupt businessmen and criminals who are operating behind the scenes. Buford’s methods of taking the fight to the bad guys is highly volatile as he uses a giant plank of wood as a battering ram to break bones and bust down doors. Buford has a one track mind towards upholding law and order, but many others see him as destroying the only “harmless vices” they have in their lives that they pay good money for. Whether its busting moonshine runners, drug dealers, gambling dens or prostitutes, Buford sees it all as a scourge in the state that has to be wiped out. This is a grade A Hixploitation classic!
This 1975 film which inspired the hit TV show Dukes of Hazzard, is narrated by the Balladeer (Waylon Jennings), who introduces and comments on the story of cousins, Grady and Bobby Lee Hagg (Kiel Martin and James Mitchum), who run bootleg liquor for their uncle Jesse Hagg of Shiloh County. The Haggs have been making their recipe since before the Revolutionary War, and Jesse only sells to a friend in nearby Florence to ensure that his liquor is never blended with any other. The county boss is Jake Rainey, a friend of Jesse's from the old days when they both bootlegged for Jesse's father in 1934, and owner the local bar and brothel. Jake has control of all the other moonshine in the county, and sells it to the New York Syndicate (mob). He needs Jesse's supply to fill an order, but Jesse will not sell to Jake since Jake would mix it with lesser quality liquor. To get at Jesse’s supply, Jake uses Sheriff Rosco Coltrane, to harass the cousins. At the same time he uses Zeebo, and Reba (Jake’s wife who is having an affair with Grady) to goad the boys into a trap. Moonrunners is a classic moonshiner tale.
1971's Preacherman tells the story of Preacher Amos Huxley (Albert T. Viola) who does the Lord's work and does it well. It turns out that in between preaching sermons at the local church, Preacher Amos is a conniving grifter. He has been using his persona as a servant of God as a front to rob people and mess with the pretty local girls. On his travels, Amos meets an old farmer who has a beautiful daughter named Mary Lou (Ilene Kristen). Since Preacher Amos loves the gals, its not long before he puts a scam on both the farmer and his daughter by convincing them that an angel named Leroy is coming to visit them. This is an old flim flam Amos uses to have sex with Mary Lou. When he hears that the cops are out looking for him, he decides to stay awhile longer. One day, the farmer shows his secret moonshine still to Amos. He explains that since his beloved wife died, they needed to make extra money to keep their home. Amos is surprised to see this, hes also thrilled. Amos tells the farmer that the devil loves money and that this moonshine is the devil's vessel that creeps into good souls and corrupts em! Therefore the only way to make the Lord happy in this situation is to sell the evil shine and make money to put into a "new church". With Amos helping the farmer and Mary Lou sell the white lightning, they start really raking in the cash!
QUICK! CLICK THE HICK !
This comprehensive study of the hixploitation genre is the first of its kind. Chapters are divided into three major topics. Part One deals with "good ol' boys," from redneck sheriffs, to moonshiners, to honky-tonk heroes and beyond. Part Two explores road movies, featuring back-road racers, truckers and everything in between. Part Three, "In the Woods," covers movies about all manner of beasts--some of them human--populating the swamps and woodlands of rural America. (Amazon)
THE FARMER (1977) tells the story of a World War II vet (Gary Conway) who, after returning from active duty , finds his farmworking is not enough to keep him out of debt. He then turns to a local mob boss for a different kind of work knocking off rivals in the underworld. It's a tough as nails Hick Flick in the tradition of popular crime films of the period like Death Wish and Rolling Thunder. GCDB Recommended! (Note: it's not on BluRay, but it should be!)