September 5th, 2014

MACON COUNTY LINE (1974) ** ½

Alan and Jesse Vint are brothers on a road trip through the south. They are about to pull a tour of duty for old Uncle Sam, and they set out to sow a few wild oats. When they have some car trouble in a small town, the sheriff (Max Baer Jr., AKA: Jethro from The Beverly Hillbillies) hassles them and tells them to get lost. That night, the sheriff brings his kid (Leif Garrett) home and discovers his wife has been brutally murdered. Since the Vint boys’ car is on his property, Sheriff Jethro assumes they were the ones responsible and goes out for revenge.

Macon County Line is a weird exploitation hybrid. For about an hour or so of its running time, it plays like your standard issue Good Ol’ Boy flick. Then, in the last twenty minutes or so, it turns into a giallo kind of a thriller, complete with violent murder set pieces and long POV shots of a killer stalking his prey. This shift in tone (and genre) doesn’t exactly work, but it still has a bit of a kick.

The film is at its best in the early scenes. At first you think the Vints are just a bunch of hoodlums, but we gradually see that they’re just a bunch of dudes blowing off a little steam. The middle section of the film feels a bit protracted though, and director Richard Compton takes too much time ramping up to the violent climax. Once we get to the scenes of the crazed sheriff on his misguided quest for revenge, it feels too rushed to be completely successful, and the last minute plot twist is a bit hard to swallow. (Even if it was “based on a true story” like the credits claim.)

There’s still plenty of good stuff here. The scenes of the Vint boys raising Hell are fun, and there was a lot more T & A than I was expecting. (I liked the opening scene of them banging a hooker.) We also get some pretty good dialogue too. My favorite line came when our heroes pulled into the decrepit gas station and Alan Vint mused, “If the Lord was going to give the world an enema, right here is where he’d stick the hose!”

AKA: Killing Time.