Director – Charles B. Pierce
Cast – Michael Parks, Jessica Harper, Vic Morrow, Sue Ane Langdon, Dennis Fimple, Bill Thurman, Jimmy Clem, Harry Thomasson, Twyla Taylor, Mary Branch, John R. Meyer, John Milam, Roxanne Harter, Foster Litton
Release Year – 1979
Reviewed by John of the Dead
I had always heard positive remarks regarding this lesser-known yet respectable 1979 PG horror film, but my ever-long queue kept me from this film for quite some time…until now. Going into this watch I was not sure what to expect given its PG rating, but a unique story and perfect atmosphere made for a simple yet creepy watch that justifies this film’s cult status.
When newlyweds Ben and Ruth Watkins relocate to a small Louisiana town, they find the perfect fixer-upper home to begin their new life together. Soon after moving in they are harassed by unknown assailants hiding in the dark shadows surrounding the home, and after questioning the local townsfolk they learn of their home’s troubled past. Unwilling to leave the home that they rightfully own, the couple decides to stay and gather the arms to protect themselves, and unlike every other home in the town…lock their doors as well.
It is funny to me how so many older horror films were able to give us PG ratings and do much with what they have, while a modern day horror film with a PG rating would be utter trash in the eyes of someone seeking good horror. This could be due to the MPAA allowing films of latter day to get away with more per rating than they allow today, but it is what it is and I am glad that The Evictors did what it could with its PG rating.
The story is an interesting one and included ideas I had yet to see used in the horror genre. Most of the story is told in present form, but backstory is thrown in when the Watkins couple asks their coworkers for details behind what is going on at their home. I enjoyed this and found it captivating as it moved the mystery element of the film throughout its well-paced 92 minute runtime. You may be wondering what the title has to do with the film, and that is what I found to be one of the more unique ideas of the genre for its time. It settles around a family who used to own the home years ago, until they were forced out by the authorities. When things begin going awry around the home we are left to suspect that someone is carrying on the family’s legacy by trying to forcefully evict the Watkins, but you can never be too sure when it comes to the horror genre. We get constant developments throughout, all leading up to the film’s shocking twist that will throw some people for a look if you pay attention to the minor details, but in the end it made for an enjoyable experience.
Director Charles B. Pierce was no stranger to doing much with very little, which he proved to us with his awesome previous low-budget efforts The Legend of Boggy Creek and The Town That Dreaded Sundown. The atmosphere for the film was perfect, not only in its beautiful sets that prove ironic for the horrible events that would ensue, but his usage of dark shadows and low-lighting that provided for some good scares here and there. His pacing was good, and absolutely necessary given the film moved a bit slow at times and did not consist of much gore or entertaining kills that normally help with a horror film’s pacing. We get good acting performances from all(including the late Vic Morrow :sniff sniff:), and Charles B. Pierce executes the horror well and gives us that dated late 70s feel that we know and love.
Overall, The Evictors gives us a unique storyline that I have yet to used used much in the genre, and delivers it with good horror thanks to Charles B. Pierce doing the most with a low-budget and not many kills. This is an atmospheric horror film that uses little to scare you, and accomplishes what it set out to do…scare you.