Category: Eco Horror

Stanley (1972)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Gorehouse Greats #7

Tim Ochopee is a Seminole Indian and a recently returned Vietnam veteran that lives all alone in a Florida swamp.  All alone, that is, except for his hoard of dangerous snakes that he can somehow control and keep from biting him.   He uses these snakes to get revenge on the people that have wronged him. These people include a local sleazeball (Alex Rocco, who’s been in everything from The Godfather to The A-Team) who wants to turn every snake in The Everglades into belts, his group of dumbass henchmen, a burlesque stripper well past her prime, and her scummy husband/manager (played by somebody named ‘Butterball’ Smith!).  Why yes, this is an eco horror movie from the 1970’s, how did you guess? And a low low low budget eco horror movie from the 1970’s at that. If that plot synopsis didn’t give you a clue, the awful acoustic folk music that plays over the opening credits should give you another hint.  That and the unfortunate fashion choices on display…

Let me get this out of the way right now: I dislike this movie. A lot.  I’ve read reviews that call it cheesy fun, and yeah, I can kind of  see it. It’s directed by William Grefe who is probably best known for 1965’s Sting of Death, possibly the only killer jellyfish movie ever made. Grefe is a terrible director but when he’s not being excruciatingly boring, his movies can be fun sources of unintentional comedy. But stuff like Wild Rebels and Death Curse of Tartu don’t include any actual animal cruelty like Stanley does. I hate seeing animals killed on screen.  There’s just no goddamn excuse for it.  Even in a movie like Cannibal Holocaust, which I actually think has some merit to it, I can’t condone it. With a worthless piece of shit like Stanley, it’s somehow even worse.  At least Cannibal Holocaust isn’t hypocritical enough to shoehorn in messages about preserving the earth and being nice to animals and then show a whole family of rattlesnakes being bludgeoned to death with the butt end of a rifle.  Jesus Christ.
Even without the pointless reptile slaughter, Stanley is an ugly film, ugly in a way that only a low budget production from the 1970’s can be. If you ran your hand across the actual film print, you’d find it covered in a thick layer of dirt and hair grease.  Even the bad performances and questionable stylistic choices that the movie presents over and over again can’t make up for the fact that the whole thing is just depressing to look at.
I honestly didn’t find anything fun or entertaining here and it’s been a long time since a film left such a bad taste in my mouth.  It doesn’t help that it doesn’t know when to fucking end and goes on long after all the bad guys are dead.  You can even see where it should cut and bring up the end credits about two or three goddamn times! That’s typical Grefe though, sadly.  Punching his audience in the face with mind numbing boredom is his calling card.

There were so many of these eco horror movies that came out in the 1970’s, and most of them are a Hell of a lot more fun to sit through than this. If you want to see one that actual delivers on the cheesy goods and won’t make the animal rights activist in you want to run screaming into the night, check out Frogs, a film produced in the same year.  Or Night of the Lepus, a film about giant killer bunny rabbits! Everybody loves bunnies, right? Just…avoid this thing. Trust me.

Rating: F

Random Things

  • The thought that came up in my mind the most while this was on the TV (other than “I want this to be over”): Only the 1970’s could have produced clothes that look like that.  And a lot of cocaine.
  • Reviews of this movie all inevitably bring up that it is pretty much just Willard but with snakes.  Not having seen Willard, I myself cannot comment on the connection.
  • For such a skeezy film, I was honestly surprised at the lack of female nudity on display.  Not that you’d really want to see any of these people naked.  There is quite a few scenes of shirtless men though.  Maybe Grefe swung in the other direction?
  • Swamp movies are interesting in that the actors and crew just freaking have to be massively uncomfortable during filming. I mean, it’s a freaking swamp! Smelly water, dangerous animals, tons of mosquitoes. A barrel of laughs, I’m sure.