The revenge movie has a long and dense history in cinema. Bergman’s The Virgin Spring, its loose remake The Last House on the Left, Charles Bronson’s Death Wish series, and the yuppie nightmare Fatal Attraction are all variations on the revenge fantasy. Many westerns and gangster films have an element of revenge woven into their plots. Heck, there was even a 1990 Kevin Costner movie entitled Revenge.
To their credit, the makers of Cry for the Bad Man, which can only be described as real estate revenge, scored a coup with the casting of Camille Keaton as their lead actress. Film buffs will recognize Keaton as the star of one of the most notorious revenge films of all time, 1978’s rape-revenge exploitation classic I Spit on Your Grave. In her role in this film, Keaton stars as the proud Marsha Kane.
Wayne (Scott Peeler), his brother Billy (Christopher James Forrest), and their friend Derek (Eric Dooley) are your run-of-the-mill good ol’ boys. They want Mrs. Kane to sell them her sprawling country property and will resort to nothing short of outright harassment to get her to sign on the dotted line. However, Mrs. Kane is adamant about her decision not to give in. The trio scheme to scare Mrs. Kane into selling. She has other plans.
“They want Mrs. Kane to sell them her sprawling country property and will resort to nothing short of outright harassment to get her to sign…”
The plot couldn’t be any more basic, as plots in revenge tales tend to be. The story simply serves to set the stage for an elaborate cat-and-mouse between Mrs. Kane and the three guys, who grossly underestimate Mrs. Kane’s tenacity and devotion to staying put.
Keaton does well as the mother hen protecting her familial home. This is the house that she built with her now-deceased husband, and she intends to live out her life there. Once in a while, her daughter, Helen (Karen Konzen), shows up like any concerned kid to check on her mom, even though Helen is, quite correctly, more than confident that her mother can fend for herself.
A major problem with Cry for the Bad Man is the languid pacing, deadly for any film but especially inexcusable for a movie that doesn’t even reach 80-minutes, including credits! Writer-director Samuel Farmer glacially stages his scenes as if he is attempting to tangibly mimic the sleepy, backwoods setting in the flow of his film. Moments overstay past their expiration, expositing redundant and insignificant pieces of dialogue.
"…the revenge movie has a long and dense history in cinema."