Tuesday, October 09, 2007

All the Kind Strangers


(1974) **1/2

While driving in the backwoods of buttfuck. Tennessee, author Jimmy Wheeler stumbles across Gilbert, a 7-year old boy walking on a large stretch of desolate road with a bag of groceries. Feeling bad for the kid Jimmy offers to give him a ride home. Gilbert assures him that it’s only “A mile or so” down a dirt road. The drive proves to be much longer, taking Jimmy and his brand new $7000 car through brush and a muddy river. Arriving at a large farm in the middle of nowhere, Gilbert insists that Jimmy come inside to meet the family. Reluctantly and against better judgment Jimmy agrees. Inside he finds a group of hillbilly siblings all led by the oldest, Peter. There seem to be no adults to speak of and Jimmy becomes increasingly uneasy. When a terrific storm breaks out, Peter insists that Jimmy stay for dinner. Declining this invitation Jimmy goes outside only to find that his brand new $7000 car is no longer working. Jimmy is forced to stay. Back inside Jimmy is introduced to “Ma”, who is busy making dinner. While alone with Ma she writes the word “Help” in some flower on the counter. Jimmy quickly learns that the children have been kidnapping helpful strangers for years in an attempt to replace their deceassed parents. During dinner Peter’s intentions become clear when he refers to Jimmy as “Pa.”

Ma informs Jimmy that escape is impossible and she has accepted her fate. The farm is miles from civilization and the kids have numerous dogs ensuring that Ma and Pa don’t leave. Oh yeah, and Peter has a gun. In the morning Jimmy finds that his brand new $7000 car (Jimmy likes to remind us of this) is gone and later, in an escape attempt, he finds it sunk deep at the bottom of a lake along side several other cars. Hmmm. Will Jimmy and Ma get out of this pickle?

This was one of those crazy made-for-TV movies replete in the 1970s and it’s one of the better ones. As silly as the premise was, I’d be lying to you if I said that I wasn’t transfixed by this little ditty wondering how it was all going to turn out. Fun stupidness.

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