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Mudhoney/Review

From The Grindhouse Cinema Database

< Mudhoney

Set against the dusty backdrop of 1933 Depression era Missouri, Russ Meyer's engrossing southern fried drama Mudhoney tells the story of an ex-con drifter named Calif McKinney (John Furlong) who comes to the doorstep of farmer Lute Wade (Stuart Lancaster) looking for work.

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Calif is warmly greeted by Wade's sexy niece Hannah Brenshaw (Antoinette Cristiani) who immediately takes a shine to him. It wouldn't be a good hicksploitation film without moonshine soaked turmoil and that element is provided by Hannah's leering, hard drinking hubby Sidney (Hal Hopper). Whenever this guy appears he chews up the scenery like a redneck beaver. Sidney can see that Calif has eyes for Hannah and warns him not to go near her or else. In between berating and harassing those around him, we learn that Sidney's not so secret plan is to take over Lute's farm after he dies.

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While Calif ignores Sidney's threats and becomes closer with Lute and Hannah, earning their trust and admiration, Sidney grows more irritated and unruly, drinking and carousing even harder than usual. He spends much of his time at a local whorehouse where the booze flows and the buxom broads are on display. That isn't quite enough for Sidney so one day he sets his sights on his busty mute neighbor Eula (Rena Horten). She's exactly what ol Sidney likes since she doesn't bother him with all her jabbering. The groping commences.

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Sidney's sinful ways and growing estrangement from Hannah eventually lead him to seek the counsel of a local man of God, Brother Hansen (Frank Bolger). Hansen, who is the classic fire and brimstone preacher, inspires Sidney to attack Calif with a smear campaign which soon brings up his past in prison. Calif's reputation in town is briefly put in peril but when Sidney's anger suddenly boils over, the local townspeople become affected by the family drama. Meanwhile, Calif and Hannah who have fallen in love, decide to leave together but Sidney, as much of a bastard as he is, still has some grasp on his wife and they decide to stay to try to put their troubles to rest first. The end of the film is truly thrilling and a total throwback to classic Westerns with its depiction of unruly frontier justice.

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The taut direction and editing as well as the beautiful black and white cinematography by Walter Schenk make this film a prime pick for a re-release on BluRay. Let's hope we get one, preferably with an audio commentary. Along with our two other favorites Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill! and Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, Mudhoney stands as one of Russ Meyer's very best efforts. Recommended.

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Peter Roberts is the co-founder/editor-in-chief of the Grindhouse Cinema Database (GCDb) and contributor to the GCDb's sister site Furious Cinema. He is an avid film fan that has been immersed in the world of entertainment and pop culture his entire life.
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