Monday, August 16, 2010
Savage Harvest (1981)
On Friday it will be six months since I started this blog. The one thing that amazes me is that the more films I and my contributors write about, the more films we all find. It seems like the more they are making movies the more that get pushed aside.
In honor of the six month mark of the blog I'm going to do a week of really off the radar movies. I mean these are films that I'm guessing are only alive in the memory of the very few people who saw them, some appear never to have gone to home video, some, the one Friday, appears only to have been on a VCD from Mainland China. These are films you'll really have to search for and even then you may not find them.
I begin with Savage Harvest which I recently converted from VHS to DVD.
I saw this in a theater when the film was released in an abbreviated release in 1981. I remember riding my bicycle to the theater in Plainview to see it at a theater that's now a supermarket. There weren't many of us in the theater. If I remember correctly this was released right before Memorial Day and got a release that ran to the following Wednesday when what ever the big Memorial day release took its slot.
I next saw the film when it played on HBO the following year (when I taped it).
After that the film disappeared into the void.
The plot of the film is based on actual events in Africa. With a drought wiping out the natural food selection for the lions they started to come into camps and homes and attack people. This film concerns a divorced couple, their kids and the lions that attack their house in the country.
This is a small scale thriller with Tom Skerrit and Michelle Phillips. At the time this was big screen material, now its more the sort of thing that's TV movie fodder. This isn't to say its a bad film, its not, I simply say this to explain why the film has kind of fallen by the wayside, its too much like stuff they are making now (though its considerably better).
The film starts off with attacks in a village, warnings of the lions roaming about before focusing on the well off family of Michelle Phillips. She's divorced from Tom Skerrit who is, if I remember correctly, a guide or hunter of some sort. When word reaches him that there maybe trouble near his family's home he heads back and arrives in time to get trapped with everyone else.
Not overly graphic this is a good little film that tells its engaging story and then gets off. It is, as I said what would now be considered a really good TV movie.
The lions are a mixture of the real thing and men in suits or partial suits, but its so well done that I dare you to be able to tell where the real one end and the fake one's begin. I remember seeing a promotional making of film on HBO between screenings and I remember being really impressed at how well they blended it all together. Frankly I still am.
I like this movie a great deal. There has to be something about the film when it stays with you for almost 30 years between viewings.
If you can find a copy of the film its worth picking up for not too much. In trying to find pictures of the film I've run across several collectors who are offering the film for sale so it is out there.
Its another film that's really unfairly lost to the ages.