Three Vietnam vets have become so conditioned to violence that they have developed psychotic tendencies. They kidnap people, brutalize them, then turn them loose and hunt them like animals. However the father of one of their earlier victims is plotting a vicious revenge against them. Written by
Jonathon Dabell <J.D.@pixie.ntu.ac.uk>
The screenplay was adapted by author David D. Osborn from his own novel of the same name. The movie credits refer to a work called "The All-Americans" but in actuality the book was simply called "Open Season" (Dial Press, New York, 1974). See more »
When Ken and Artie climb the bluff, Ken is carrying a bolt action rifle. But after they split up and Ken returns to the lodge, he enters the cabin carrying a pump action shotgun. The rifle is never seen again. See more »
I often like to read the comments from the back pages first and those here at IMDb are very, very disparaging of this film - much like the original critical reviews (and the still rather dismissive all-movie-guide blurb). The common reason is that these viewers were much offended by this movie. I can relate because I was offended as well when I saw it in 1974. And that horrified, sickened sensation stayed with me all the next day - so much so that I had to tell a co-worker about it, not in an enthusiastic way, but in an almost confessional way - as if I'd done something very wrong myself in having watched it. The comments at the back, I believe, are written from that emotional viewpoint. It's visceral hatred of what they've been unwillingly exposed to and I believe that may hinder appreciation for the actual quality of the film-making. They can't bring themselves to praise in any way something by which they feel so affronted.
This is testament to just how good this movie is. And by good, I mean effective. It's been three decades and counting since this nasty was sprung upon the viewing public, and though many far nastier (in graphic content and visuals) have avalanched down upon us since, few, if any, have been more gripping. You see, this is the type of movie that makes you ponder the 'nature of evil'. It's this seemingly bland, irredeemable, sociopathic evil that seems to disturb the most. No mental illness explanations ala 'Psycho' to take comfort in; no painfully, disfiguring past that has caused sadistic, homicidal madness as with 'The Hypnotic Eye' and it's ilk; no over-the-top camp sadism as with 'Blood And Black Lace' that can be watched and instantly dismissed, so ludicrously cinematic is the horror there.
No, at the risk of plagiarizing another commenter, the violence here feels too real. The acting is too good. The slowly unfolding scenarios too disturbingly believable. The final twenty minutes of the film are immeasurably welcomed by the viewer, as the film takes on an eerie but strangely satisfying turn. It provides much-needed catharsis, a relief from the tension and sadness of the first hour.
The ending ties up some loose ends nicely, leaving one with a kind of 'understanding' of what it was about. A message about what inhumane attitudes can be developed in those who have been a little too privileged, perhaps. I recently became aware that the film has an alternate ending (included in the version known as 'The Recon Game') that serves to undermine our sense of justice when compared to the version that was shown here in Canada. Perhaps tacked on as a sop to the protestations of liberal critics, it is nowhere near as satisfying a conclusion as that of 'Open Season'.
Not that this movie is available other than as a very pricey European import (some with non-removable foreign-language subtitles yet), but the North American version of 'Open Season' is the one to see first.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?