The Suckers (1972)

Richard Connell’s Most Dangerous Game is a short story that casts a long shadow.  There are film adaptations  dating back to the 1932 RKO feature up to the 1993 Jean-Claude Van Damme actioner HARD TARGET.  Somewhere in between-almost smack dab in the middle, 1972- is Stu Segall’s (credited as Arthur Byrd) THE SUCKERS.  The basic premise is pretty much the same.  A wealthy big game hunter has become bored with life and is looking to spice things up.  He hires a modeling agency to supply a couple of models and a photographer to document and spice up his latest hunt.  George and Cindy (Barbara Mills) run the agency and the hunter is one of their more eccentric former clients, Steve Vandermeer.  They bring along models Barbara (Lori Rose) and Joanne (Sandy Dempsey) to the esteemed hunter’s isolated estate for the shoot.  

The flick starts with the models and photographers heading to the estate disposing of any backstory or lead-in with an exposition dump.  Any other backstory is covered with an odd flash back to when George receives the telegraph in the middle of the social the night before the hunt.  This flashback serves only to shoehorn the first extended softcore scene.  The first 40 minutes or so are heavy petting sessions between the various characters interspersed with presumption and ambiguity concerning the hunt. Bi-curious Barbara manages to make a connection with Jack Baxter the hunter and then maintains her scissor sister relationship with Joanne.  The next morning everyone heads to the wilds to be briefed on the order of the hunt.  The trip takes its toll on the models and photographer while Jack, Vandermeer and his guards manage the hike well.  

When they gather at the summit of a hill Vandermeer, wearing khaki shorts and shirt with a pith helmet,

lets them know the game they are about to play.  He and his men will hunt the models and photographers down and rape them and kill them.  Jack is an ex-Green Beret and he is also one of the suckers who is supposed to help them stand a chance against Vandermeer and his goons.  The final act’s narrative is explained by a line from Vandermeer’s speech, “Rape and slaughter go hand in hand when one is hunting human beings.”  At this point the long lost roughie begins to more or less follow along with the final part of Connell’s narrative.  Models and agents are tracked down some are captured, raped and killed leading up to the final confrontation between Baxter and Vandermeer.

THE SUCKERS is a 2k scan from a 35mm theatrical print.  Long thought lost Vinegar Syndrome presents the film as part of The Drive-In Collection paired with THE LOVE GARDEN.  The picture quality is very good considering the print is beat up.  It is the best as can be expected considering it may be from one of the last surviving prints.  The lines, scratches, pops, crackles and splices add to the aesthetic of the presentation.  With so little information available on this obscure flick the original running time is unavailable and it appears the print was spliced for repair and possibly for double billing-some key scenes (such as the dispersal of the party at the beginning of the hunt) are missing entirely and some scenes are cut off mid sentence.  The film is

presented in widescreen 1.85:1 and runs for 80 minutes.

The co-feature THE LOVE GARDEN is presented in 1.37:1 and has a 70 minute run time.  The picture quality of the second feature is much better than the first though some scratches and lines are in the film.  The color is excellent for both features.  Click here for my review of THE LOVE GARDEN.  Don’t be a sucker and check this flick out.  It’s sleazy, grimy and delivers the goods.  Check out the trailer below.

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