The Ravager / The Bushwhacker: American Arcana – Mondo Macabro (Blu-ray)
Theatrical Release Dates: USA, 1968 (The Bushwhacker), USA, 1970 (The Ravager)
Directors: Byron Mabe (The Bushwhacker), Charles Nizet (The Ravager)
Cast: Dan Martin, Merci Montello, Barbara Kline, Harvey Shain (The Bushwhacker), Pierre Agostino, Jo Long, Lynn Hayes, Luanne Roberts, Garrett Cassell, Darlene Dawes, Ann Hollis, Diane Thurman (The Ravager)
Release Date: June 14th, 2022
Approximate running times: 83 Minutes 23 Seconds (The Bushwhacker), 73 Minutes 25 Seconds (The Ravager)
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC (The Bushwhacker), 1.33:1 Aspect Ratio / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC (The Ravager)
Sound: LPCM Mono English (Both Films)
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: $29.95
"THE RAVAGER and THE BUSHWHACKER represent the last hurrah for rough and tumble 60s style sexploitation before hardcore sex films completely took over the market. In lieu of graphic sex, exploitation films in this era leaned on violence to give the audience the sick thrills they were looking for. These two films are basically the last gasp, the final push on the envelope of this genre towards more extreme, horror-oriented fare, and in this they were perhaps too extreme for the raincoat brigade. After their brief theatrical runs, both disappeared for decades until unearthed by Something Weird Video in the 2000s.
THE RAVAGER was the brainchild of Belgian cinematic weirdo Charles Nizet, whose life was as bizarre as any film he made. But THE RAVAGER is perhaps his craziest movie, and stars Pierre Agostino, a regular in the films of Ray Dennis Steckler from the same period, as a PTSD stricken Vietnam vet with a peculiar kink for peeking on couples making love and then blowing them to smithereens with homemade bombs.
THE BUSHWHACKER was made by longtime exploitation maven Byron Mabe, who directed the classic SHE-FREAK. After their plane goes down somewhere in the deserts of the American southwest, a party of one alpha male and three lusty ladies are pursued through wild by an insane, coonskin-cap-wearing killer, who has an insatiable taste for female flesh.
Both films occupy a strange space somewhere between the roughies of the 1960s and the slasher films of the late 1970s and early 80s. Which probably explains why they were MIA for so many years. American Arcana is proud to present these unique exploitation films on Blu-ray for the first time anywhere in the world, uncut and taken from the best available elements straight from the Something Weird Archives." - synopsis provided by the distributor
Video: 2.75/5 (The Bushwhacker), 2.5/5 (The Ravager)
Here’s the information provided about The Bushwhacker's transfer, “The Bushwhacker has been restored from the only known film print available to us, direct from the archives of Something Weird Video. The 35mm print was in poor condition, with a significant amount of emulsion scratches and fade color. We have done what we could, especially in regards to color, but quite a bit of damage remains visible throughout. Furthermore, our print was missing a gore scene from near the end of the film. We have used a standard definition source to reinstate this scene where it belongs, making this the most complete version of the film ever presented. But please note that there will be a drop in picture quality for a few seconds during this scene. We hope these issues don’t detract from your enjoyment of this unique piece of American exploitation cinema.”
Here’s the information provided about The Ravager's transfer, “The Ravager has been restored from the only known film print in existence, direct from the archives of Something Weird Video. The 35mm print was in poor condition, with a significant amount of emulsion scratches and fade color. We have done what we could, especially in regards to color, but quite a bit of damage remains visible throughout. We hope these issues don’t detract from your enjoyment of this unique piece of American exploitation cinema.”
The Ravager and The Bushwhacker come on a 50 GB dual layer Blu-ray.
Disc Size: 39.4 GB
Feature: 17.5 GB (The Bushwhacker), 15.4 GB (The Ravager)
The text information provided on each film's page gives you a clear idea of how these two transfers look.
Audio: 2.5/5 (The Bushwhacker, The Ravager)
Each film comes with one audio option, a LPCM mono mix in English. Though both tracks have audio imprecisions, the dialog comes through clearly enough to follow, and range-wise, both tracks are limited. There are no subtitles.
Extras for this release include a theatrical trailer for The Bushwhacker (4 minutes 37 seconds, LPCM mono English, no subtitles), and a theatrical trailer for The Ravager (3 minutes 6 seconds, LPCM mono German, no subtitles).
Other extras include trailers for Hot Spur, The Pick Up, The Scavengers, Ravaged, and Nazi Love Camp 27.
The Bushwhacker: From its opening moments, it's clear that The Bushwhacker is working on an anemic budget. The opening title cards are on pieces of cardboard. Other areas where The Bushwhacker shows its limited budget include using one isolated location and a cast with limited experience who are nothing more than props. Needless to say, the acting is what you would expect for a no-budget film.
Though The Bushwhacker has many elements associated with the "roughie" film genre, the result is not one of this genre's better examples. Despite a good premise, the narrative drags. Also, for the first hour, not much happens except characters walking around wondering how they're going to get rescued or finding an excuse to screw each other. That said, anyone expecting anything remotely erotic will be disappointed.
Other areas where The Bushwhacker comes up short include bland cinematography and a stereotypical score that is all too common with this type of film. After all that, if you still haven’t given up on The Bushwhacker yet, its strongest assets are the scenes where The Bushwhacker kidnaps, tortures, and kills.
The Ravager: When it comes to no-budget cinema, it can be an acquired taste whose values are not easy to quantify. A case in point is a film like The Ravager, which has a solid premise but unfortunately does not have much else going for it.
The narrative revolves around a traumatized Vietnam vet who, after the war, gets his kicks by recreating the event that traumatized him. His backstory is fleshed out by a narrator. That said, though the premise is ripe for social commentary, don't go expecting anything deep.
The Ravager is a film that quickly establishes what it wants to be, a down and dirty exploitation film. Though there is some T & A and couples fornicating, there’s nothing remotely erotic in The Ravager. With its greatest strength being the aftermath of the protagonist's gruesome handiwork.
Mondo Macabro’s American Arcana series rescues two films from the vaults of Something Weird Cinema and gives them their best audio/video presentations to date.
Written by Michael Den Boer