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Southern Comfort (1981)

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During a routine exercise, a team of National Guards are threatened by angry and violent locals.


Walter Hill



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Keith Carradine ... Spencer
Powers Boothe ... Hardin
Fred Ward ... Reece
Franklyn Seales ... Simms
T.K. Carter ... Cribbs
Lewis Smith ... Stuckey
Les Lannom ... Casper
Peter Coyote ... Poole
Alan Autry ... Bowden (as Carlos Brown)
Brion James ... Trapper
Sonny Landham ... Hunter
Allan Graf ... Hunter
Ned Dowd ... Hunter
Rob Ryder Rob Ryder ... Hunter
Greg Guirard Greg Guirard ... Cajun Couple


A squad of National Guards on an isolated weekend exercise in the Louisiana swamp must fight for their lives when they anger local Cajuns by stealing their canoes. Without live ammunition and in a strange country, their experience begins to mirror the Vietnam experience. Written by Keith Loh <loh@sfu.ca>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The bayou has its own law... and they just broke it. See more »


Action | Thriller


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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USA | Switzerland | UK


English | French

Release Date:

25 September 1981 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Prey See more »

Filming Locations:

Caddo Lake, Texas, USA See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$116,943, 27 September 1981, Limited Release

Gross USA:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


This motion picture's opening title card reads: "Louisiana 1973". See more »


The M-60 machine gun and the M-16 rifles are repeatedly shown firing blanks on automatic and semi-automatic fire settings, respectively, but without the required blank adapters covering the muzzles. Blank adapters cause a back-up of gas pressure within the barrel, a function normally performed by fired bullets, which allows the weapons to cycle and reload automatically. Blank adapters are clearly visible attachments; without them, the weapons would have to be cycled (i.e. reloaded) manually after each individual blank is fired. These are obviously Hollywood weapons which have had their barrels partially plugged sufficiently to perform the function of blank adapters, while making them appear more like weapons that most viewers are familiar with. See more »


Cpl. 'Coach' Bowden: Well, I do what I do.
See more »


Referenced in The First Terror with Adrian Zmed & Lewis Smith (2014) See more »


Song "Parlez-nous à Boire
Dewey Balfa
Published by Flat Town Music Co.
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

A classic masterpiece one of my personal all time favorite Walter Hill war movies
3 May 2017 | by ivo-cobra8See all my reviews

It is one of my personal favorite best war movies of all time and favorite from been a hunted to become a hunter. I love, love this movie to death. I love the setting that it was filmed in the forest and in the swamps. The soldiers got lost and are now hunted from Cajuns. Because they stole their canoes and a soldier for a joke fired at them with blank bullets, but Cajuns returned fire and kill on of the soldiers. The other eight soldiers are now hunted on enemy turf, without live animation, compass, and the map they lost they must fight for survival. Walter Hill directed perfectly this film. "The thrill of the hunt is the ultimate drug" - the line is from Hard Target it is still a thrill film an edge on your seat.

This is my childhood movie, I grew up watching it today I still love this movie today and I have purchased the Blu-ray disc and I watch it so many times on VHS tape. I think the acting performance from all the actors was decent. I love the music score by Ry Cooder I think it is very beautiful. What can I say? I love this movie to death I always enjoy watching this movie. I watched in Thursday this movie with my dad and even he enjoyed this movie just like I did. He said he loves this movie just like me.

Squad of nine Louisiana National Guard soldiers are Keith Carradine, Powers Boothe, Fred Ward, Franklyn Seales, T. K. Carter, Lewis Smith , Les Lannom, Peter Coyote and Alan Autry and they are believable. Powers Boothe and Franklyn Seales both really died in real life and are sadly no longer with us anymore. I am written this cause I love this movie to death and no one talks about it. Like this movie doesn't exit. I am a huge fan of this film.

I have been an enthusiastic fan of Walter Hill's 1981 film, Southern Comfort, since childhood, and I believe that it is one of the most perfect movies of that decade in terms of its ability to maintain intensity to a nail-biting conclusion. A lot has been written about this film as an allegory for the war in Vietnam, but I prefer simply to take Southern Comfort at face value as a brilliant horror story.

When a squad of nine National Guardsmen antagonize some reclusive Cajuns in the bayous of Louisiana, they find themselves fighting for their lives in drab swamp setting that is presented as a villain in its own right. They are on enemy territory crossing through swamps without any real ammunition, their compass and the map they lost in the swamp alone and tired the hunt is on in this game for survival.

Unlike contemporary survival horror movies where one never gets the impression that the characters are actually outdoors at any point in the film, Southern Comfort is rugged to an extreme, with the actors constantly wading ankle-deep through swamp lands in the middle of winter, since filmmakers quickly determined that the filming location would be too hazardous during the summer season. For most of the film, the Cajun hunters are depicted as terrifyingly wraith like figures that are only seen in split-second glimpses through the trees. This movie has some of the most harrowing death scenes that I have ever witnessed on screen, by way of gunshots to the head, horrific booby traps, and, most notably, an unset ting sequence where a character disappears in quicksand that is subsequently shown in a serene shot as though nothing happened. A beautifully atmospheric Ry Cooder soundtrack works wonders to bring the viewer into the bayou.

Just when the viewer thinks that the most tense moments of Southern Comfort have come to pass, the film ratchets up the unnerving horror with a conclusion that feeds on paranoia in a crowded setting. A few key visuals, namely two rope nooses being thrown over a support beam and a pig slaughter, are strikingly effective in a way that recalls the best of Universal Horror films or German expressionism, while the faces of strangers gets under the skin in a way that recalls movies like Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

Through it all, Southern Comfort presents us with memorable characters by way of convincing "lived-in" dialogue and tough guy archetypes that may or may not snap in the face of danger. It's easy to buy the notion that the nine Guardsmen are real people who have known one another for a long time, but simply tolerate one another's company during monthly weekend training exercises. The authenticity of these interactions is the strength that sold the premise to me when I first saw this movie on a cable channel almost 30 years ago.

R.I.P. Franklyn Seales (1952-1990) and Powers Boothe (1948-2017) you are both really missed.

Southern Comfort is a 1981 American action/thriller film directed by Walter Hill and written by Michael Kane, and Hill and his longtime collaborator David Giler. It stars Keith Carradine, Powers Boothe, Fred Ward, T. K. Carter, Franklyn Seales, and Peter Coyote.

10/10 Bad Ass Seal Of Approval my favorite childhood movie from Walter Hill of all time a really masterpiece classic they don't make movie like this anymore.

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