“‘Gator Bait” (1974)
“‘Gator Bait” is a simplistic tale of revenge that is simply told, entirely lacking in any trace of nuance or pretensions toward Art and it’s all the better for it. What familial regional exploitation directors Beverly and Ferd Sebastian lack in budgetary gloss they more than compensate in a comfort with their material while maintaining an impressive technical proficiency in what appears to be a difficult and uncomfortable location shoot.
When slow-witted Ben Bracket (Ben Sebastian) is accidentally killed by Deputy Billy Boy (Clyde Ventura) in their attempt to snare wildcat poacher Desiree Thibodeau (Claudia Jennings, who impresses with a difficult but remarkably consistent Cajun accent unmanageable by the majority of Actor’s Studio alumni) in the act for the purposes of forcibly enjoying her sexual wares, Billy Boy reports the killing to his father, Sheriff Joe Bob Thomas (Bill Thurman), as having been perpetrated by the swamp dwelling beauty. An enraged patriarch of the Bracket clan, Leroy (Douglas Dirkson), initiates a search for Desiree, deep into the heart of the swampland which inevitably results in a chain of retributive internecine events.
Despite an unsurprising portraiture of social unrefinement in the film’s limited roster of characters, the lack of condescension to the rural antagonists eliminates the usual Hollywood cinematic assertions of genetically influenced primitivism among characters situated outside of prestigious gated suburban communities or metropolitan penthouses.
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