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As has been pointed out 'Open Season's basic premise takes inspiration from
Richard Connell's classic suspense story 'The Most Dangerous Game', first
filmed back in the 30s with 'King Kong's Fay Wray, and continually used ever
since. Many a trash classic has been indebted to it, not least of which the
ultra-cheesy 'Turkey Shoot' (with Steve Railsback), and John Woo's 'Hard
Target' starring Van Damme and Lance Henriksen. The reason it gets reused
over and over? Because it bloody well works every time!
'Open Season' isn't just another rip off in my opinion. The actual "game" only takes up a small segment of the movie, and the focus is more on the relationship between the three hunters and their guests. Some complain it's boring or two slow movie. Not me, I loved every minute of it. The main reason being the three leads are played by Peter Fonda, John Phillip Law and Richard Lynch, three cult film legends. Even one of these guys being in a movie is enough to get me viewing, but having all three is manna from heaven!
Peter Fonda was going through his strange post-'Easy Rider' period where he was starring in lots of b-grade Drive In fare like 'Dirty Mary Crazy Larry', 'Race With The Devil' and 'Futureworld', and wearing orange shades a lot. John Phillip Law will never be forgotten for his roles in 60s camp classics 'Barbarella' and Mario Bava's 'Diabolik'. At this time he was about to reach his commercial peak playing Sinbad in 'The Golden Voyage Of Sinbad' before slowly descending into video hell. Richard Lynch had recently had a small but memorable role in the excellent Gene Hackman/Al Pacino road movie 'Scarecrow', but would go on to appear in Larry Cohen's 'God Told Me To', William Peter Blatty's cult classic 'The Ninth Configuration', and innumerable z-grade action, horror and sci fi flicks.
Fonda, Law and Lynch play Ken, Greg and Art, three middle class family men and war buddies who go on their annual hunting trip. Along the way they meet a couple having an affair and "invite" them to be guests in their cabin on a small island. The couple think it's a kidnap attempt and are puzzled why no ransom is discussed. The guys attempt to show them a booze fuelled "good time" with mixed results. Eventually the holiday is over and the "guests" are free to leave. However there is a slight catch...Yup, you guessed it! What nobody realizes though is that they aren't alone on the island, and things may not go exactly to plan this year.
Movies like 'Open Season' are what I live for! A 1970s exploitation classic ripe for rediscovery.
This film was actually not bad, for it's genre! A group of hunters abduct a couple, (A young female and middle-aged guy) They take them up into the wilderness and subject them both to humiliations and abuse. The girl is coerced into having a night of sex with the men. She becomes a sexual toy for them as she tries using her womanly charms to avert what she slowly begins to realize is a deadly game unfolding. Before too long, the men turn the couple loose in the woods and tell them they will be hunted like animals. Seems the men, all Vietnam vets who having returned from the war, no longer get a thrill hunting animals after hunting "The real thing!" The plot has been done before, but it works here, the film is enjoyable, suspenseful and at times titillating! I am really hoping this comes out on DVD. I watched this on late night TV years ago, and later found a badly done pre-recorded copy. It's not a classic film! But it's well worth a look if you like this genre!
This film is a revelation in terms of editing technique, the use of stills right in the middle of the action (this is 1974, a long time pre-John Woo)and several passages of pretty associative editing. The photography is stunning with spectacularly framed images. There is a very thought-out way of using sound, with a change of perspective (from clos up to a wide shot and vice versa) that is counteracted by the sound - a lot of close-up conversation takes place on wide shots. and finally, because some folks think this is boring - the way the topic of the movie - the use of humans as living targets - is introduced is pretty compelling - the audience is not given a clue, or a well-worded plan - we are kept just as informed as the victims, and when seeing the movie for the first time, stuff like putting the chain on the woman in the kitchen really comes as an awful surprise - yet Fonda delivers this as if it was routine as usual (which it obviously is for his character) - thrilling stuff. They did a lot of experimenting with editing and imaging in the 70s which should not be lost. this movie should be put on dvd!
Again I have to put things right. This film is really 'just' an 'eight' but, in order to raise the medium, I give it a 'ten'. Yes, it's something like 'The Most Dangerous Game' but with a twist. Here, it's pretty obvious that it is about some spoiled, upper-class brats doing what they most like to do. You know, evil just stops short to opportunity and there's really not much difference in using factory-workers as slaves and hunting them down as prey. So far the upper-class-twits. Then there is the prey which, in this case, let themselves get fooled, at least the woman. Why does William Holden not intervene earlier? Does he know? Nevertheless, it's not your brainless Hollywood-entertainment and Fonda is excellent! It would have been even better if it was more clear that these boys get away with anything because they are rich and that only a private vigilante therefor can put things right. But I guess You can't have everything.
This was one of the first really well "designed-to-disturb" movies that I ever watched. The impact to the viewer is not achieved through overly-graphic violence, although it is violent in nature, but by craftily inducing empathy for the desperate situation of the hunted, juxtaposed with the bleak portrayal of raw and unrelenting evil exhibited by the group-thinking hunters. This is well done through a meandering sequence of action shots and brilliantly framed by the contrasting peaceful and beautiful North American scenery and a curious and intriguing score. This is not a movie of memorable dialogue but one of highly disturbing action sequence in a sustained act of cruelty. Unfortunately the evil and its impact are far too believable for comfort. The Vietnam allusion and vigilante character (Holden) are peripheral to the essence of the movie and if anything detract, seemingly there to provide an excuse for the exposure of the evil and some end resolution for good, respectively. Whilst this may have been at one point central to the message in the creator's mind, as it worked out neither is warranted given the core impact of the film.
Out of the comments I have read about this movie, including the locations where the movie was supposedly shot, it appears that someone did not do their homework, or has not done much traveling. I saw this movie at a theater when it first came out, and recognized the scenery immediately. As the guys were headed out on their vacation, it showed them crossing the Mackinac Bridge, which separates lower Michigan from the upper peninsula, as they were obviously headed for Canada on their hunting trip. Whether the rest of the movie was shot in Canada is questionable, and the bridge may have been a "file shot" which is why it wasn't mentioned in the shooting locations. I have been wondering for years why this movie isn't mentioned in most of the lists of his movie credits. Good, bad, or indifferent, I for one, would like to see it again, just for old times sake. Please... would someone release this on video or DVD?!
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.
OPEN SEASON (retitled RECON GAME in the UK, on video) is one of the
of it's genre (i.e; crazed vietnam vets!)
This cycle ran through the 80's, up untill the point were audiences got
sick, or the stars of these movies, ended up making themselves looking
than they actually were.
OPEN SEASON, though, has the advantage of being directed by PETER
and also by having a all-star cast (FONDA/LAW..yes LAW and HOLDEN) The only
movie that comes close to this film, in terms of intensity, is WOLF LAKE,
with the late, great ROD STIEGER, or WILLIAM FRUET's HOUSE BY THE LAKE,
exploitation legend DON STROUD.
Anyway, this movies cast and credentials, put it far beyond standard 'shlock' movie standards, and the plot reflects this. If any criticism may be be aimed at this film, it must be it's misleading title.This movie is not entirely about a human hunt, but more a study on the effects of vietnam, and the people that came back from it. All the performances are spot on, and also bonus points too, for the (sometimes) haunting cinematography and theme tune.
For people, who like this sort of plot, but are not into 'older-movies', then may i suggest SURVIVING THE GAME, that also features an all-star exploitation cast
Big lee gives OPEN SEASON, 9 and a half, out of 10
I saw this strange film on late night cable way back in 1983 and found
it oddly appealing.Obviously not filmed in the USA with dubbed dialog,
weird atmosphere and the eventual appearance of William Holden as an
added bonus. After searching on the internet recently I found an uncut
version VHS tape for sale.* SPOILER *William Holdens character is
arrested at the end which didn't occur in the edited version. The stark
direction,unconventional editing techniques and haunting music make
this one a seldom seen gem. I usually don't indulge in films of this
type( like the repulsive, house by the lake ) but open season has
going for it to elevate it above other films of this genre. For Fonda/ Holden fans this film is highly recommended,others beware!
Peter Fonda and William Holden WOW!!, 2 excellent actors. Why this movie is not on DVD is beyond me. The movie was very real and had an original plot. The acting impeccable and one of William Holdens last movies. I believe the movie had an interesting social message as well. Yes perhaps squeamish for some but nonetheless a flick well done with superb acting. I believe that the commentary is timeless and can well be a successful movie today ... in fact maybe even more so than back 35 yrs ago or so. I think the movie was actually a bit tame compared to todays psychological thrillers but still done well. If you get a chance to see this movie go for it , you will not be disappointed.
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