If you’ve purchased or rented any Grindhouse Releasing title in the past decade or so, you’ve no doubt seen the trailer for southern-fried exploitation vet S.F. Brownrigg’s tantalizingly sleazy 1974 effort, Scum Of The Earth (not to be confused with Herschell Gordon Lewis’ seminal “roughie” of the same name), and hoped against hope that one of these days it would finally be getting a proper DVD release. Last I heard, Bob Murawski is still planning on getting an extras-laden special edition out at some point, but in the meantime you can still view the film itself courtesy of a fairly high-quality VHS rip from its 1980s Magnum Video issuing that I’ve linked to at the bottom of this review.
Hold your horses, though, because first I want you to fully understand the incomparable awesomeness of this “Holy Grail” of the hicksploitation genre.
Alternately billed as Poor White Trash Part II for reasons that seem iffy at best — the original Poor White Trash having come out all the way back in 1957 and being much more widely known (to the extent that it was even known at all) by its “proper” title of Bayou — Brownrigg’s complete lack of taste or subtlety oozes through every celluloid pore of this astonishingly over the top take on life, as its poster says, “below Tobacco Road,” and the end result is enough to make even the proudest resident of Dixie either blush, howl with anger, or who knows — maybe both.
On, then, to the story particulars : newlywed couple Paul and Helen Fraser, honeymooning (for reasons I can’t fathom) in the woods have their new life together cut violently short when Paul, going to his truck for some smokes, meets his end courtesy of the head of an unseen madman’s axe. Helen (Norma Moore), understandably panicked, quickly decides to make a beeline for what passes around these parts for “civilization,” only to encounter “assistance” from swamp hick Odie Pickett (Gene Ross, who is obviously lovin’ every minute of it when he’s on screen, and is even credited with “additional dialogue” in the credits), who promises to take her back to his shack where she can phone the law, even though, by his own admission, he doesn’t like “having no truck” with them.
Of course, in reality he has no phone, but he does have a bizarre, inbred bunch o’ kinfolk, all of whom have their own amusingly one-dimensional backstory : there’s his pregnant child bride, Emmy (Ann Stafford), whose father traded her off to Odie at age 12 in order to pay off a debt; his country hooker daughter, Sarah (Camilla Carr), and his idiot man-child son, Bo (Charlie Dell), aand the whole lot of ’em have their sights set on their new house guest for entirely different reasons. Needless to say, Odie has absolutely zero intention of ever letting her leave, under any circumstances, so they’re all going to get their chance to sink their hooks into her or die trying.
Cue every single backwoods hick stereotype you can think of : incest, possum eating, tobacco chewing, moonshine swilling, domestic abuse — it’s all here, in gloriously gut-wrenching detail. No stone is left unturned when it comes to making rural southerners look like complete imbeciles utterly devoid of either class or conscience. And yeah — it’s every bit as awesome as it sounds.
Suspense is pretty hard to come by here (unusual given that Brownrigg would also give us one of the more under-appreciated B-horror efforts of its time, the superb Don’t Go In The Basement), and “story” takes a back seat to unfurling an ever-growing laundry-list of corn-pone atrocities, but none of that really matters since it’s not what you’re watching this for, anyway. The tagline to trash-horror classic Pieces comes to mind here since, like that reviled-for-all-the-best-reasons flick, Scum Of The Earth is, indeed, “exactly what you think it is!” And honestly — who would want it any other way?
But I’ve taken up enough of your evening (or day, as the case may be) with my interminable blathering already already. It’s high time you clicked the link below and experienced the utterly depraved majesty of this one for yourself.