Color, 1982, 98m.
Directed by William Fruet
Starring Henry Silva, Nicholas Campbell, Barbara Gordon, Gina Dick, Allan Royal
Code Red (US R0 NTSC) / WS (1.78:1) (16:9)

Made at the height of Canadian tax-shelter filmmaking which generated such filmmakers as David Cronenberg, Trapped (better known on VHS as The Killer Instinct) is another of the country’s Deliverance-inspired revenge films after the excellent Rituals, albeit with a very different end result. While that 1979 outing was a moody and deliberately-paced creepfest, this one aims straight for the popcorn crowd with a string of rousing death scenes, car crashes, explosions and foot chases, including a crackerjack final half hour that should have made this an instant hit.

After discussing the immorality of taking a human life, clean-cut college kid Roger (Campbell) and three buddies decide to take a jeep into the Tennessee woods for the afternoon. Unfortunately they decide to visit a town kept in a state of fear by Henry Chatwill (Silva), a shotgun-toting brute who doesn’t take too kindly to his pretty blonde wife diddling a stranger behind his back. Joined by his buddies, Henry punishes the other man with an old-fashioned tar and feathering with a fatal outcome, all witnessed by the four students who are then captured and chased by Henry and his goons before finally fighting back.

A reliable and intimidating character actor all the way back to The Manchurian Candidate, Silva gets a rare leading role here and makes the most of it as a truly loathsome villain. Along with this film, the ’80s really turned out to be a strong decade for Silva as evidenced by his memorable work in Alligator, the absurd Megaforce, Sharkey’s Machine, Chained Heat, Escape from the Bronx and Man Hunt. Still a busy Canadian TV actor, Campbell is best remembered as the psycho who deep-throats a pair of scissors in The Dead Zone and handles his part well here, with the rest of the supporting cast adequate enough in their one-dimensional roles. If that pedigree isn’t strong enough, it’s also worth noting that director Fruet also helmed some of the more interesting Canadian exploitation films like Death Weekend and Funeral Home, while screenwriter John Beaird wrote the original My Bloody Valentine. Put ‘em all together, and you’ve got quite a backwoods thriller on your hands.

Code Red’s DVD features a fresh anamorphic transfer from film that’s miles ahead of any other video editions; it really looks great all around. The wilderness scenes (which were shot in Georgia not far from the locations of Deliverance, not in Tennessee) look beautiful here, and the frequent crimson clothing never bleeds or causes distortion problems. The only extra is the very lively Canadian trailer, inexplicably dubbed in Spanish here but present in English on the company’s other DVD releases.

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