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The Scalp Merchant (1978)



Cast overview:
Ron Haddrick
Ric Hutton
Margaret Nelson
Joan Sydney


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detective | australia | See All (2) »







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The Risk Of Going Home Again, When Uninvited.
2 June 2006 | by (Mountain Mesa, California) – See all my reviews

Among a substantial number of films belonging within the Theatre of Paranoia genre, a common type is that depicting a loner who is confronted by hostility from an entire community, the cause for which is seldom explained from the script's opening pages, forcing the victim to determine the often ambiguous reason upon his own, most generally an unsafe proposition, as is the case with this low budgeted action oriented Australian production. The film opens with an outrageous prison escape scene with outside assistance, benefiting a sole convict, Eric Bruhr, that entails kidnapping of the head warden along with the Australian Minister of Defence. Bruhr flees to his old homestead ensconced amid rugged mountains of Western Australia where he had secreted the stash from a payroll robbery that placed him behind bars. At this same time, Cliff Rowan (John Waters), a private investigator, or "scalp merchant", free-lancing as an independent contractor (after losing his license) for a large insurance firm, is originally from the same town and has returned there, assigned to locate the hidden loot. Bruhr, whose family resides in the community, is more welcome there than is Cliff, as the latter discovers through numerous attacks made upon him by means of guns, explosives, falling trees, and large vehicles, but curiosity and doggedness enable him to remain focused upon his search for the missing funds. There seemingly are other parties involved in the hunt, but after a long-time friend of Cliff, Riley (Cameron Mitchell), who has remained loyal to him, is mistakenly killed by a bomb meant for Rowan, the local townspeople display a remarkable unanimity in their urge to expel the investigator, whose only remaining allies will be, not surprisingly, attractive young women. As must be expected from a film of this nature, there is little true suspense at hand, since a viewer must be of less than sound mind to expect the storyline's hero to die early on, and the lone unanswered question might have to do with a potentiality that other items, of value to shadowy government agencies, will be alongside the purloined cash. In sum, this is an unremarkable work, capably made and offering few sequences that are either boring or, conversely, engrossing.

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