Victims!

| June 26, 2017

Victims! (1981) is not a film for me. However, this is not to say I can’t appreciate the importance of its release to Blu-ray from Olive Films’ Martini Entertainment and Slasher Video. With the original 16mm film print lost, it would have seemed unlikely that Victims! would have ever seen a Blu-ray release. Yet here it is, preserved in the best possible version, as most any film deserves to be by virtue of its existence. As such, Victims! makes its debut on Blu-ray having been transferred from a Beta SP source. This inevitably means that the picture and sound are neither as clear nor sharp as you’d expect from an HD transfer. Instead, the film’s transfer captures the feel of an analog video release, ideal for a film of its sort.

But what sort is it? Victims! is a weird, sleazy, mean little movie that puts its titular victims through absolute hell as they are stalked, attacked, and raped by a pair of criminals in the desert. The film, having had its opening exposition removed sometime between production and this release, opens with 15 straight minutes of random violence, nudity, and rape, and it goes on for so long that I was convinced for a time that the film would in fact have no plot. This, as I understand from the special features, is the fault of the original distributors though.

As a work of exploitation cinema, I’ve no doubt there’s an audience for the film. Hell, I’m typically all-in for exploitation cinema of all varieties, provided the rape on screen is kept to a merciful minimum. Unfortunately, the story of Victims! hinges on the rape of multiple women, so much so that I’d go so far as to say that’s kind of all the film is about. And as such, I found it experience of the film to be extremely alienating in a way that makes me unlikely to ever watch it again. That said, if you give Slasher Video’s trailer for the film a watch and like what you see there, know that that’s exactly what you get from the film, only with more rape.

Though the movie clearly wasn’t for me, I can and do still appreciate the effort it took director Jeff Hathcock to produce the movie on a shoestring budget: an impressively meager $7,500 according to Hathcock himself. To commit a feature of any budget to film is a Herculean effort that I, as someone who’s worked on features, fully appreciate. To that end I found great value in the special features on Martini/Slasher Video’s Blu-ray release of Victims! The disc includes both an interview and audio commentary with Hathcock, which I found immensely illuminating and enjoyable in and of themselves. Learning about Hathcock’s cost-cutting and shooting methods, as well as his subsequent projects, made me glad of the opportunity to check out the Blu-ray in spite of my reluctance to recommend the film itself.

About the Author:

Jef is a writer and educator in Chicago, Illinois. He holds a degree in Media & Cinema Studies from DePaul University, but sometimes he drops it and picks it back up again. He's also the Editor-in-Chief of FilmMonthly.com and is fueled entirely by coffee (as if you couldn't tell).

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