The Evictors (1979)

Rating:

USA. 1979.

Crew

Director/Producer – Charles B. Pierce, Screenplay – Charles B. Pierce, Paul Fisk & Gary Rusoff, Photography (colour + some sequences sepia tone) – Chuck Bryant, Music – Jaime Mendoza-Nava, Special Effects – Jack Bennett, Art Direction – John Ball. Production Company – AIP/Charles B. Pierce Productions Inc

Cast

Jessica Harper (Ruth Watkins), Michael Parks (Ben Watkins), Vic Morrow (Jake Rudd), Sue Ann Langdon (Olie Gibson), Glen Roberts (Dwayne Monroe), Lucius Farris (Roy Lee)


Plot

1942. Ben and Ruth Watkins rent a house in Southern Louisiana. Soon Ruth is subject to a series of terrifying attacks while she is alone. They discover that the attacks have something to do with the house’s past and that the rental agency did not tell them that all of previous inhabitants of the house have died under violent and mysterious circumstances.


The Evictors was one of a handful of films made by Louisiana-based producer/director Charles B. Pierce. Pierce had minor success in the 1970s with a number of B-budget American Indian-friendly Westerns such as Winterhawk (1975), The Winds of Autumn (1976), Greyeagle (1977), Sacred Ground (1983) and Hawken’s Breed (1987), the legendarily bad Lee Majors Viking drama The Norseman (1980). The films that garnered Pierce a name however were his horror films – most successfully The Legend of Boggy Creek (1972), as well as The Town That Dreaded Sundown (1976), both of which, like The Evictors, made claims to being based on fact.

” … the legendary Charles B. Pierce … “

The Evictors is a competent if minor film. Charles B. Pierce generates a reasonable degree of tension in the flashbacks. These occasionally touch on something nasty – like one scene where victims are burnt alive in a shed. Pierce also does a convincing job of creating the atmosphere of a 1940s Louisiana small town.

” … Backwoods Brutality with claims to being a true story … “

Like Pierce’s other ventures into genre territory, he claims that the film is based on a real story, although the opening credits note that it has been changed and fictionalised in its essential details. This is similar to a number of 1970s films – The Last House on the Left (1972), The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) – that made up spurious claims to being based on fact. Certainly, the story seems privy to motivation from the killers that could only be speculative. This is not well explored and the film goes out on a coda that suggests that the house is now haunted.

The Evictors toplines Vic Morrow, although in actuality Morrow only has a lightweight supporting role as the realtor. The show belongs to the great and underrated Jessica Harper – The Phantom of the Paradise (1974), Suspiria (1977) and Shock Treatment (1981) – an actress who always seemed like she could be the nicer twin sister of Barbara Steele.



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