Friday, September 17, 2010

The Endangered List (Case File #83) -- FOUND!


Gary Conway (Kyle Martin)
Angel Tompkins (Betty)
Michael Dante (Johnny O’)
George Memmoli (Passini)
Timothy Scott (Weasel)
Jack Waltzer (Doc Valentine)
Ken Renard (Gumshoe)
John Popwell (Conners, The Hit Man)
Stratton Leopold (Laundry Sam)
Sonny Shroyer (Corrigan)
Eric Weston (Lopie)

Directed by
David Berlatsky

Produced by
Gary Conway

Written by
Janice Colson-Dodge
John Carmody
Patrick Regan
George Fargo

Executive Producer
Peter B. Mills

Cinematography by
Irv Goodnoff

Edited by
Richard Weber

Music composed & conducted
Hugo Montenegro

“The American Dreamer”
“Outside the Law”

Composed & Sung
Gene Clark

“There’s Only Me and You”

Composed by Jack Segal
Sung by Jackie Alter

Filmed in Panavision and Color
on location in Georgia

A Milway Production
Released by Columbia Pictures

MPAA rating: R
Running time: 98 minutes

Re-released to 42nd Street and other urban action theaters under the title THE KILLER FARMER beginning in 1979.

Comic actor George Memmoli, cast in THE FARMER as a villain, was seriously injured during production and had to turn down his next acting job, which was in Martin Scorsese's TAXI DRIVER (He was supposed to play the crazy cuckold fare, the role that was eventually filled by Scorsese himself). The injuries Memmoli sustained on THE FARMER contributed to his death 10 years later at age 46.


Kyle Martin (GARY CONWAY) is a Silver Star hero who returns home to his Georgia farm at the close of World War II. Behind its Currier & Ives exteriors, it becomes apparent that his farm is terribly rundown and close to foreclosure. Kyle is now in another and more primal war -- his own Pearl Harbor. To save his farm, he must confront the rural power brokers.

He soon learns that Silver Stars do not pay off creditors. The only real help to come his way is the $1500 from a grateful gambler, Johnny O’Neill (MICHAEL DANTE), whose life he saves by pulling the unconscious man from his overturned car moments before it bursts into flames and explodes. The two men are destined to have a closer association.

Later, Johnny O’ is blinded in an underworld vendetta and turns to the farmer to seek revenge. He offers Kyle $50,000 as a gun for hire. “You’ve killed 26 men to save your country, probably farmers like yourself. Why not go after five scumbags to save your farm?”

“That was war,” says Kyle.

“Bullshit war!” Johnny yells. “If Uncle Sam can ask you to kill, why can’t I?”

Kyle says he’ll think about it.

But Kyle is not persuaded. War is war and crime is crime. It’s a different kind of killing to the farmer. But, he’s in deeper than he knows. One night when he’s in town, his barn is burned to ashes. Gumshoe (KEN RENARD), an old Black who long has been in the family, is shot and left to burn in the barn. And Betty (ANGEL TOMPKINS), Kyle’s girl and long-time friend of Johnny O’, is brutally raped in the barn by Weasel (TIMOTHY SCOTT), one of the syndicate men.

This drives the farmer to action. Violence begets violence. Through the courtesy of Uncle Sam, Kyle already is a trained killer. With impeccable professionalism, he begins to eliminate, one by one, the men Johnny O’ sent him after. In panic, Passini (GEORGE MEMMOLI), the rival chieftain, hires a top hit man, Conners (JOHN POPWELL), to track down the unknown killer of his men. He also has the hospitalized Johnny O’ killed by a poisonous injection.

Kyle completes his wipe-out and drives back to the farm to rejoin Betty. Out of his truck, he embraces her. At that moment, Kyle is being pinpointed on the cross hairs of a telescopic sight. On a bluff overlooking the reunion scene is the dead Passini’s hit man. He is behind a rifle slowly bringing Kyle’s face into bold focus. The farmer’s eyes, usually hard-set and wary, for the first time are sun-bright with hope. The hit man and Kyle have crossed paths once before…

The ending is unexpected – not to be revealed here – and jolts the moral complacency of the viewer. Like Billy Budd, Kyle Martin is fated to be what he is…to do what he does. We meet in the farmer the tormenting struggle between good and evil and the search for rough justice in the scheme of things. But, THE FARMER is ultimately a statement against violence, against hypocrisy, and against man’s inhumanity to man.

Those slick bookers at the Fabian Theater in Paterson, N.J. knew they had a real turkey on their hands with METALSTORM, so they dug deep into the co-feature archives to come up with THE FARMER, a 1978 unsung gore classic starring Gary Conway (HOW TO MAKE A MONSTER, LAND OF THE GIANTS, etc.) as a revenge-bent agrarian out to get the mobsters who have raped his girlfriend, burned his barn and murdered his ranch hand. Conway disposes of the creeps in a variety of graphically-displayed ways (garroting, stabbing, blowing off gonads with a shotgun, etc.) that will keep violence mongers titillated with glee. However, the Fabian boys were worried that the title of the picture might go over with their largely urban audience like a sack of cow manure, so they changed the title on all marquees, one-sheets and news ads to THE KILLER FARMER to ensure the exploitative connection. The switch worked well as disgruntled METALSTORM patrons soon forgot their anger and got caught up in the tide of eyeball gougings, burnings and rapings offered up by Conway and company in this fast-paced epic. Younger gore fans and those who may have missed it the first time around should seek out THE (KILLER) FARMER, a satisfying, demented, violent winner!!
-- (The Gore Gazette, No. 60, August 1983)


venoms5 said...

I hope this gets a DVD release. These WALKING TALL/ROLLING THUNDER style movies are great stuff.

METALSTORM was definitely crap, too. I think the latter is coming out on DVD, or already has.

Scott said...

One odd "Farmer" footnote that I always wondered about: the two songs by former Byrd Gene Clark were both recycled from the earlier Dennis Hopper documentary "American Dreamer." Does anyone know how they ended up in "The Farmer"?

Arbogast said...

I've wanted to see this for ages. Literally ages!

Elmer J. Fudd, Film Histowian said...

This is not endangewed, you wedicuwous wumor spweader. I my vewy own self will be weleasing it thwough my new wabel, Wascawwy Wabbit Pwoductions... but first, I must honor my contwacts by weleasing special bwu-way editions of NIGHT OF THE DWIBBWER and THE FOWEST.

Anonymous said...

You're gonna release it ? posted this almost 2 years ago....

Temple of Schlock said...

We're a blog, not a DVD company. Your beef is with Code Red, not us.

Ed said...

Hey guys let's try to share this as much as possible to Code Red or Scorpio or whoever wha owes the rights to The Farmer maybe releases it!

Don said...

I can only hope this is released at some point before I pass on. What a great movie. One of the best of its genre.

Anonymous said...

Great film. Saw it years ago in the Theater. I'm hoping someone decides to make it available this year!