Southern Comfort - DVD (4 stars)

Southern Comfort

(15) 106min (Optimum Classic DVD retail)


These days the great American filmmaker Walter Hill mostly concerns himself with exemplary television shows like Deadwood and the soon to be screened mini series Broken Trail. We should not forget, however, that this is the man who brought us some of the most singular and lean joys of 70s and 80s US cinema with The Driver, The Warriors, 48 Hours and, of course, this redneck undergrowth slasher from 1981.

Nine part time National Guardsman (think TA) are sent on a weekend training exercise in the Louisiana bayou. When a simple trip to the local whorehouse goes pear-shaped they manage to anger local Cajuns by stealing their canoes and the grunt hunt begins. This superlative thriller is often overshadowed by John Boorman’s similar Deliverence, but Hill’s movie has a dynamism all of its own - one drawn from anxiety and class and cultural divide. The powerhouse cast includes Keith Carradine (Nashville), Powers Boothe (Sin City) and Fred Ward (Short Cuts) and Ry Cooder’s excellent score adds to the Hill’s vice like grip of the nightmarish scenario. Don’t go down to the woods today. Minimal extras.

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