Friday, July 13, 2012

Sunburst (1975)

Even by the low standards of evil-redneck flicks, Sunburst is atrocious. Dull, terribly acted, and tonally schizophrenic, the picture is more than halfway over before anything of significance happens, and even the introduction of an actual plot is insufficient to generate interest. The picture begins on a college campus, where wholesome coed Jenny (Kathy Baumann) hooks up with sensitive stud Robert (Peter Hooten). The couple travels to the mountains to visit a pal, Michael, who quit school for a simpler life in the wilderness. And that, more or less, is the first 40 minutes of the movie, which comprises one uneventful scene after another, interspersed with montages set to fruity ballads. (And let’s not forget the pointless sequence featuring ’30s crooner Rudy Vallee as a shopkeeper whom the young lovers encounter.) Eventually, while Jenny and Robert take a romantic skinny-dip in a mountaintop lake, they’re spotted by a pair of mouth-breathers (played by James Keach and David Pritchard) who speak to Jenny and Robert and strongly imply threats of sexual violence. Demonstrating spectacular stupidity, the heroes head to Michael’s seemingly abandoned cabin, rather than fleeing to someplace safe, and spend the night screwing. Sure enough, the rednecks show up with knives to beat the crap out of Robert and rape Jenny. The next morning, Michael (played by a very young Robert Englund) finally appears. The future Freddy Krueger must summon a straight face for insipid speeches like this one, appraising Jenny’s post-assault mood: “She’s doing the right thing. She’s putting it together for herself without words. She’s just into herself.” Yeesh. Onetime Miss Ohio Baumann is sexy but vapid, Hooten’s spacey look makes him seem detached, and Keach and Pritchard deliver cartoonish performances. (Sample Keach dialogue: “I suggest that you go right over there in those bushes and wizzle your lizard!”) Whether in its original form or its ’80s video incarnation (bearing the alternate title Slashed Dreams), this flick is to be avoided at all costs.

Sunburst: SQUARE

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