Film Review - American Gothic

Starring - Rod Steiger, Yvonne De Carlo, Michael J. Pollard, Fiona, Sarah Torgov | Directed by John Hough | Trinity DVD FF R 89min 1987

Review By Xmortis

This review was requested by Mike Ritchie the writer, director and star of low budget horror film Farmer Joe. Mike has been a fan and friend of Bloodline Video for years, and we are happy to do this review upon his request.

Cynthia is a woman who needs to get away and along with her five friends (Jeff, Lynn, Rob, Terri and Paul) she decides to go on a trip aboard a small airplane that ends up having engine issues forcing an emergency stop on a small island. All the while, Cynthia having visions of a horrible accident she was involved in where an infant drowned in the bathtub. After the friends find that the plan is not fixable, they look around the island and enter a house where it seems no one is home. The group notices everything looks like it's from the 1920's as they disrespectfully move about the house. When the elderly owners, simply named Ma and Pa, come home they welcome the friends into their home and even invite them to dinner. Ma and Pa are a little strange and don't have anything modern in their home, and the group of friends really doesn't treat them with much respect. They also meet Ma and Pa's kids Fannie, Woody and Teddy who are all in their 50's but think and act like young children. The next day one by one bad things start to happen to the friends, and one is left dead after an "accident". Cynthia is being followed by Fannie who proclaims her as her best friend and even shows her a baby that's decomposed to seal the friendship. But Fanny also wants Cynthia's boyfriend Jeff all for her own and gets him by killing him! Cynthia finds that her friends are being killed and that she and Terri are alone on in island with a family of killers who have the motto "The Family Who Slay Together Stays Together". But the tables are turned on the family as Terri finds a gun and holds Fannie hostage making Pa take them to an old fishing boat so they can leave the island. But once more the family get the upper hand sending the kids out to hunt the girls. Teddy kills Terri and is beaten in front of Cynthia and the family by Pa. The family accepts Cynthia as one of their own, but Cynthia comes to after she sees the den of dead bodies to be turned into "dolls" and Fannie tries to give a baby's corpse a bath. Cynthia then goes on a killing spree of her own, but who will win and what will be left of them?

This film has a great creepy backwoods family of killers and a nice mix of horror and thriller that will also please black comedy fans. The film's twist of an ending that has the hunters becoming the hunted worked really well as the lead character Cynthia slowly slipped into madness. I really liked the feeling of the macabre, and while it's not overly bloody, the kills really work with one murder taking place on a child's swing. The film is really well acted. No matter how hammy the performances seemed, all the characters came off super creepy or super full of themselves as with the group of friends. Yvonne De Carlo plays Ma, and while she is better known for her roles as Lily Munster on TV's The Munsters and other B-Horror films like Mirror, Mirror, Play Dead and Cellar Dweller, her performance as this simple woman shows that even in her old age, she still had some great acting chops. Rod Steiger, known to horror fans as Father Delaney in 1979's Amityville Horror, does a great hammy job as Pa. The way he praises God and talks strict to those he finds naughty is one great overdone performance. For the most part, the film is bloodless. While there is certainly murder, the red stuff is kept to a minimum. Normally this would bother me, but I found it charming in this case. While this film is almost a forgotten cult classic, it still holds a place in many hearts who remember how fun and kooky it is. I say this is worth your time for sure.

This Trinity DVD is barebones by all accounts unless you count scene selections as an extra. The DVD's cover is cool and looks just like the "American Gothic" painting by Grant Wood.

This film is one of those creepy films that's filled with overly religious wacko's who kill to keep the outside world views from infecting their "children" and will do what ever it takes to stop it. This film was a fun thriller that I will say is worth a rent and watch for sure and a buy for Horror film fans.