Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Animals (1970)

Soul-sucking dreck expunged from the bowels of the American film industry, The Animals is a crude Western about a woman seeking revenge against men who violated her. (A year after this movie was loosed upon an unsuspecting world, the moderately superior Raquel Welch vehicle Hannie Caulder took the same basic story into the mainstream.) Michele Carey stars as Alice McAndrew, a schoolteacher traveling by wagon across the sun-baked American wilderness. Unfortunately, one of her fellow passengers is heartless criminal Pudge Elliot (Keenan Wynn), who is being transferred between prisons. Pudge’s henchmen attack the wagon and kill everyone aboard except Alice. The criminals then strip her, tie her to stakes on the ground, and rape her. Inexplicably, a soulful Apache named Chatto (Henry Silva) watches all this happen from a nearby hiding place. Then, after the thugs leave Alice for dead, Chatto transports her to a cave and nurses her back to health, eventually teaching her to shoot and helping her track down the rapists so she can murder them. Obviously, none of this has any credibility. Carey looks glamorous throughout the movie, New York native Silva’s casting as an Indian is ridiculous, and the idea that Alice falls in love with her caretaker is absurd. How warmly can she feel toward a man who watched her assault instead of intervening? Excepting Wynn’s reliable villainy, the acting in The Animals is as bad as the storytelling, and the score—by Rupert Holmes, later the purveyor of ’70s soft-rock staple “Escape (The PiƱa Colada Song)”—is an atrocity dominated by screeching acid-rock guitars. Making matters worse, The Animals is widely available in a choppy UK cut bearing the alternate title Five Savage Men, and the UK cut suffers from distracting fade-out transitions and prudish optical adjustments during the nastiest scenes. Still, anything that hides even part of this terrible movie from human view should be considered merciful.

The Animals: SQUARE

No comments: