A married couple named Big Bob Carter (Russ Grieve) who is a retired detective and his wife Ethel (Virginia Vincent) celebrate their 25th anniversary with their family on a vacation trip to California but first they go through some rockies and ask an old man named Mercury (Peter Locke) at a pit stop on where to go and he warns them to stay on the road but the family doesn't listen to him as their car is chased off by an army aircraft which the area is an air testing range for an army base.
Big Bob goes back to the pit stop which takes him all day while the family waits for him.
Meanwhile one of the family's dogs named Beauty runs to the rocky mountains there as she spots sopmething but one of the kids named Bobby (Robert Houston) looks for her and finds her gutted alive.
He is too disturbed to tell the family what has happened and keeps a sharp eye out for any intruders. Mercury has a frightening story to tell Big Bob.
Mercury gets killed and then Big Bob is attacked and tortured by a group of cannibals that live in the mountains. They then spike him to a stake and burn him alive while some of the cannibals named Jupiter (James Whitworth) and Pluto (Michael Berryman) steal supplies in the family's trailer that they had along for the travel as well as killing some of the Carter family and steals a baby which is a new member of the family.
Bobby, his sister Brenda (Susan Lanier) and their brother in law Doug (Martin Speer) are the only survivors left and tries to find a way to rescue the baby and take revenge on the cannibalistic family by planning a trap for them.
Oh yeah this film has got it and is perfectly frightening. The beginning seemed impressive with an eccentric old man named Fred near a shop and a family trying to look for gas and directions in which adds to the story since some of them seem to hear or see strange figures making noises. Plus Fred tries to warn them not to go to a certain area which seemed impressive. Most horror films have these kinds of people warning others but of course they don't listen.
Then there's more frightening moments to watch with an airforce craft zooming down close to the vehicle with the father named Big Bob driving his vehicle fast and everyone panicking. During this moment you know that something is going to happen which is a car accident. But this car swerves out of the way to dodge a rabbit which seemed quite funny and then they're stranded.
While Big Bob tries to go back to the shop for help it's not a smart idea since he is noted to have a bad heart which was one of the reasons he retired being a cop. Of course horror films aren't noted to make wise decisions.
Yet while this all happens we hear voices and walkie talkies along with someone using maginfying glasses spying on this family up in the rocky mountains of this desert nearby. You don't see who these people are but right away you know they're not the good type which was well put in making the film very mysterious in which I love mysterious horror flicks.
Then one of the dogs is eager to get out of the trailer and run up near the rocky mountains which also makes you cringe in which you know that this dog will not come back alive along with a great jyumping moment with the only son Bob Junior witnessing this and suddenly something jumps near him with him running away and falling knocking him unconcious. Here you wonder if whatever was up there will get him or has he gotten away far enough that they forgot about him? Once he awakens he is too disturbed to tell his family by what he witnessed in which I was thinking to myself "Tell them! They are obviously in danger!"
There is great scenery at night with Big Bob going to the store and spotting Fred hanging himself. Here you think to yourself "Why is he trying to commit suicide?" Then he explains his story to Big Bob which adds to all of Fred's weird behavior to them and then a terrifying moment happens which is terrorising too.
Then of course there's Big Bob trying to run away in the dark with voices calling to him which is even more bone chilling and it does disturb you since he has a bad heart and is trying to get away. It makes anyone's fear of the dark and who could be out there watching you.
Then there's more calling near the mountains with the family there with dog barking or figure running from one place to another which is also frightening to watch.
What's even really disturbing and hard to watch is that poor Big Bob is burned alive at a stake with the family witnessing this and their reactions to it in which this was a total psychological moment that really works well as one of them really loses their mind which makes you want to cry cause although Big Bob was sometimes incredibly stubborn he was still a good hearted fellow.
What's really disturbing is one of the demented family members tries to molest an innocent girl in their trailer named Brenda or eating one of their pet birds. All of this was good shocking horror moments.
The story gets going very well with the survivors seeking revenge against this family in which they sacrifice alot of their stuff in order to stay alive and kill off these evil creeps. Their other family dog was useful in the film by attacking these monstrous family members which seemed to be a real thrill to watch as well. Plus some good battling moments against a survivor and one of the demented one's as well as another family member of these maniacs trying to help these survivors escape which is a perfect touch on someone realising that what they are doing is dead wrong no matter what evil morals that they were raised and taught.
Bottom line is that this movie was very intense and disturbing with plenty of terrific frights and it became a cult classic in the same vein as others like Texas Chainsaw Massacre for instance as this film will appeal to the same group of fans even if it's not a slasher film.
The film is quite an adventureous ride too as you wanna feel like taking part of the film and it was inspirational too imagining thinking that there is nothing out there but God's creature but are you in for a shocking surprise. I am convinced that this film inspired the 1981 cult slasher flick Just Before Dawn since it had some of the same creepy elements to it.
Followed by a sequel and 30 years later a remake.
The acting is is totally 70's style as of course that was the era it was filmed. Nowadays the performances may seem very average but it was well performed for it's time.
Robert Houston (Bobby Carter) was quite wooden with his work in the film as the vengeful teen in which he seemed to just be a line reader and not really getting into character. But you can tell that he tried. He does well with his upsetting emotions though. All in all he needed alot of improvement but I could see him getting better in future projects. However he seems to do well in certain spots like having a great shocked expression after what he spots near a rocky mountain as well as a great panicking reaction on him running away and then falling which looked suspensefully performed. There's a great sobbing moment with him when he tries to talk to a couple of people by when he confronts them as to what happened to their dog which looked pretty good and emotional. He had high energy trying to chase after the onscreen maniacs which looked nicely done.
Susan Lanier (Brenda Carter) was impressive though as a whimpering teen plus showed alot of great intense crying and screaming too bringing it all out and proving to be a worthy target in a horror flick. She could go far I found in future horror films cause of this one. There's a great moment with her crying intensely when she finds out that her onscreen Mom has finally bit the dust.
Martin Speer (Doug Wood) had a real hip attitude as an inlaw of the family traveeling to California in which he showed alot of spunk into his role. He kinda reminded me of a Sonny Bono type of appeal and came off like that showing a good sense of wit. He also does well by getting vengeful against the maniacs showing terrific energy into what he has here. Showed a good psysical moment throwing rocks at someone and struggling actions too. A great moment with him slamming a knife down and screaming intensely which was highly energised.
Dee Wallace (Lynne Wood) was on her road to other work in horror films starting in this one in which she showed a nice wholesomeness to her part in the film by having an easy going mellow attitude. She brought out a niceness in her part in which she often played these types of roles in other shows too since she does it well and had the good looks for it which one one of the film's pluses.
Virginia Vincent (Ethel Carter) came across nicely as the passive type in the film with her warm and caring attitude as the family woman. She made her part truly believeable as a Mom in the flick. She does well with her freaked out behavior in other spots such as her great intense reactions when losing her mind and going hysterical when she spots her onscreen husband burned alive. All in all she knew this part inside out and couldn't find anyone better to do the role.
Russ Grieve (Big Bob Carter) was certainly an attraction to the film as the family man and ex-cop in which he shows a good sarcastic and blunt attitude to his role as well as having a great powerful speaking voice which really came off terrifically too. There's nice aggressions on him while driving his car when an aircraft hovers over them. He was highly energised outside noticing some stuff as well as pointing his gun and shooting after he hears some banging sound. He was powerful and intense by screaming intensely when he is burned alive at the stake. I found that he was one of the best supporting actors in this film and a true character actor.
Janus Blythe (Ruby) really came across nicely to the screen as one of the family members of the cannibals up in the rocky mountains showing alot of good energy to her role as well as having nice troubled reactions to all that's going on.
Lance Gordon (Mars) really had the perfect insane looks and big teeth too as one of the canniballisitc family members plus really knew on how to act violent. He brings everything out in his role and came across well with his gruff speaking too. Basically he knew on how to portray someone you'd want to kill with his evil actions.
Michael Berryman (Pluto) is also a natural character actor as one of the demented cannibals with his creepy looks and goofy attitude. He really came across nicely to the camera with his character and you could tell was ready for anything that was thrown to him. Of course this is the film that made him a name.
James Whitworth (Jupiter) played the father of the canniballistic family and looked enormous with his size and knew on how to act extremely violent and menacing too. He also was great with his screaming anger when attacking or doing any sort of evil deed. He was aperfect key role to the story of the film.
A dog is gutted
A man is impaled
Big Bob is burned alive
Pluto's leg is mangled by one of the family's dog Beast.
Don Peake is great with his screechy sounds for the film adding the right touches in every scene. There's alot of buzzing sounds with the synthesizer playing as well as other cheesy sounds too. Plus there's good adventureous classical playing for the struggling moments too. All in all I liked it.
Brenda Carter: We're gonna be french fries! Human french fries!
Ethel Carter: [while looking at a road map] We are not lost, we're right here somewhere on this little blue line.
Lynne Wood: This road is not a blue line, it's a dotted line, if it's even on the map at all!
Big Bob Carter: Do you always try to stop trespassers by hanging yourself?
Mars: Baby's fat. You fat... fat and juicy.
Ethel Carter: That's not my Bob!
Pluto: This is air force rescuewwwwww, what's up ?
Bob Carter: We're being attacked. I don't know who. We have one gun with 2 bullets. We're sitting ducks!
Pluto: We recommend that until we can get to you, you stand on your heads, with your thumbs up.