Saturday, June 18, 2022

THE RAVAGER (1970) & THE BUSHWHACKER (1968) Double-Feature (Mondo Macabro Blu-ray Review)

The Ravager (1970) / The Bushwhacker (1968) 
Double Feature Blu-ray 

Label: Mondo Macabro 
Rating: Unrated
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.78:1), 1080p HD Full Frame (1.33:1) 
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Mono with Optional English Subtitles 

The first release from Mondo Macabro's new American Arcana sub-label is a double-dose of seedy late 60's sexploitation, by way of The Ravager (1970) and The Bushwhacker (1968), a pair of cheaply made roughies from the vaults of the always titillating Something Weird Video archives.

The Bushwhacker (1970) 
Duration: 86 Minutes 
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.85:1)
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Mono with Optional English Subtitles 
Director: Byron Mabe
Cast: Dan Martin, Merci Montello, Barbara Kline, Harvey Shain 

The first flick on this exploitation cheapie double-bill is director Byron Mabe's (She-Freak) cruel sexploitation romp The Bushwhacker (1968), wherein a plane piloted by stud Dan (Harvey Shain) with sexy passengers Marueen (Barbara Kline), Dawn (Merci Montello) and Sherry crash lands in a desert area somewhere in the American Southwest. They all survive the crash without a scratch, just before the plane explodes off camera 'natch, but unbeknownst to them they were actually shot out of the sky by a 
coonskin-cap-wearing bushwhacker, a weirdo hermit (Dan Martin) with misogynist tendencies and a love of violence. The foursome set up a makeshift camp and try to make the best of things until they are rescued, but not before Dan gets it on with two of the swinging ladies, or before two of them women get it on with each other. All the while the horny hermit leers at the ladies from a distance before venturing into their makeshift camp to molest them in the dark of night. By the time the foursome realize that they're in danger the bushwhacker abducts one of the gals while she's skinny-dipping, ties her to a tree and tortures her to death. The roughie stuff here gets darker than I expected, with that coon-skin cap wearing bushwhacker turning from horny to homicidal in a quick minute, and there's also a bizarre scene that flirts with of lesbian necrophilia! It's a very cheaply made production with the opening scenes having title cards that are literally written with marker on posterboards, but it gets pretty sick and twisted for a late-60's exploitation flick, though not as wet and gory as what we were seeing from Herschell Gordon Lewis (Blood Feast) at the time, but pretty dang depraved. 

The Ravager (1968) 
Duration: 76 Minutes
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.78:1)
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Mono with Optional English Subtitles 
Director: Charles Nizet
Cast: Pierre Agostino, Jo Long, Lynn Hayes, Luanna Roberts, Dan Martin, Ann Hollis 

The second half of the double-bill is director Charles Nizet's The Ravager (1970) stars Pierre Agostino as Joe, a PTSD stricken Vietnam vet, who during his tour of duty witnessed a horrific sight, two Vietnamese soldiers raping a woman and then stuffing explosives up her wazoo and blowing her to smithereens. Back at home Joe ends up at an asylum but is released prematurely, as he doesn't seem to have fully recovered from his mental wounds, and has in fact developed a diabolical 
kink for peeking in on horny couples and then blowing them up with homemade bombs constructed from broken clock parts and sticks of dynamite that he carries around in a lunch pal. The Ravager is a cheapy made on a shoestring budget, not as cheap as The Bushwhacker as it has a real title card and credit (so fancy), and the acting is much better if not great, with Agostino giving it his all. Joe's actions are certainly depraved but the flick is flimsily made and comes off hokey, but interestingly pre-dates damaged 'Nam vet flicks like Deathdream (1974), Taxi Driver (1976) 
and Delirium (1979) by several years. 

Audio/Video: Both The Ravager and The Bushwhacker arrives on a single-disc region-free Blu-ray from the newly minted Mondo Macabro sub-label American Arcana in 1080p HD; The Ravager is framed in  1.78:1 widescreen while The Bushwhacker screens in 1.33:1 full frame. Advertised as coming from "the best available elements", i.e. not that great, looking like pretty well-run 35mm grindhouse prints with lots of green emulsion digs and vertical scratches, which is fine, that's just the patina of vintage seedy cinema. It's a bit soft in spots with some fading it maintains an organic filmic look, and the black levels are strong. It might not be a highlight of the HD format but I think that for deep-diving lovers of exploitation it's pretty cool to see these on Blu-ray at all, and Mondo Macabro are preserving these nasty nuggets for future generations of trash-cinema fans. The Bushwhacker contains a few SD inserts of a previously missing gore scene that makes this the fullest version of the film available, there's a dip in quality, and it's noticeable, but it is the most compete version. 

Audio comes by way of uncompressed LPCM 2.0 mono with optional English subtitles. Dialogue fares well enough but the source is limited and sounds pretty flat and loose, but like the video it is what it is. The only extras are 30-minutes of trailers, we get trailers for both The Ravager and a German trailer for The Bushwhacker, plus lengthy trailers for Hot Spurr, Nazi Love Camp, Ravaged, The Scavengers and The Pick-Up

Special Features:
- Trailers: Hot Spurr (4  min), Nazi Love Camp 27 (4 min), Ravaged (2 min), The Scavengers (6 min), The Pick-Up (6 min), The Bushwhacker (5 min), The Ravager (3 min)

As an initial offering this is a pretty fine platter of cheapie exploitation that hopefully sets up the sort of scuzzy, lo-fi cinema we will be getting from the American Arcana sub-label. Some might ponder why these scuzzed-up, down and  dirty exploitation flicks get the Blu-ray treatment, while I'm here just curious about what sort of demented trash-treasure American Arcana will unearth next, and hoping it's more hard-to-find sexed-up roughies with plenty of T&A!

Screenshots from the Mondo Macabro Blu-ray: 

The Bushwhacker

The Ravager