Backwoods Marcy is a 1999 Shot-on-Video hillbilly horror from writer/director Dawn Murphy. The film follows a real estate agent who is abducted and tortured by a cannibalistic woman living in the swamplands of New Jersey. Starring Dawn Murphy and Dave Castiglione this low budget feature works in cheap thrills with a feminist angle that gives it an interesting approach to the genre. The Blu-ray from Saturn’s Core via Vinegar Syndrome features a respectable A/V package, loads of special features, and even a bonus feature on the disc titled An Ex-Hooker’s Christmas Carol. This release is recommended For Fans Only.
Donald (Dave Castiglione, Psycho Sisters) is a slick yuppie real estate agent heading to a meeting in rural New Jersey. While lost on the dirt roads he sexes up a hitchhiking hooker and barrels further into “no man’s land”. A disheveled woman named Marcy (Dawn Murphy, Love is A Stranger Again) is walking alongside the road. She stops Donald to see if he needs directions. Revolted at her appearance, he turns her away quickly. (Dawn plays both the hooker and Marcy.) After driving around for a bit he resigns to asking Marcy for help after seeing her again on the roadside. With her missing teeth and scraggly appearance Donald is hesitant to give her a ride to Trevorstown but relents and invites her into his car. “You city folks sure are in a hurry,” she says. Eventually, he dumps her out after being unable to stand the smell of her.
Donald whips his sweet Chevy Cavalier around the backroads of Jersey looking for civilization. Glancing at his map, he accidentally runs over Marcy knocking her to the side of the road. She awakens and fights back leaving Donald running for his life through the woods. Marcy catches up with him. She rips off his tighty whities with her machete and says “You gots what I want boy and it ain’t no money.”
Produced during the late 90s SOV craze Backwoods Marcy gained a following due to its gender-flipped roles in an otherwise cliche riddled horror tale. Those who follow the VHS horror movement are keenly aware of the two key elements that dominated those films: comedy and girls in peril. Here we get a refreshing take that minimizes those trends while still offering sex and violence. Interestingly enough for all the rape and sex in the film, there isn’t any nudity on screen. Both Dawn and Dave were regular actors with the Jersey based W.A.V.E. Production company which would produce custom videos for clients with *ahem* specific tastes. Of all their features Backwoods Marcy seems the most accessible for audiences.
Dave Castiglione reveals in an interview featurette that the script for the film was mostly improvised but key scenes were mapped out beforehand. Watching the film you’ll see how loose and awkward some scenes play out. Performances are memorable and highly quotable. My favorite scene is when Donald can’t “perform” to Marcy’s liking she gets upset and shouts, “I’m gonna play with you till you love me right.” Dawn’s Marcy is an unhinged maniac that wants some lovin’ just like any other hillbilly cannibal living in a van down by the river. Dawn and Dave occupy most of the film though there are great supporting performances from W.A.V.E. actors including Pamela Sutch, G.W. Lawrence, and Dean Paul. Makeup gore effects were done by Dawn and are damn good for a no-budget SOV cannibal flick.
Backwoods Marcy is surprisingly entertaining (and sexy?) SOV flick that doesn’t disappoint. While the technical limitations may keep some audiences away there is a thrilling aspect to these grungy films that feels raw and unfiltered. Thankfully Saturn’s Core provided a Double Feature on this Blu-ray release with An Ex-Hooker’s Christmas Carol. While not a softcore cannibal feature, this irreverent comedy offers outrageous performances, quotable dialogue, and more hookers.
Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray
Backwoods Marcy arrives on Blu-ray thanks to Saturn’s Core via Vinegar Syndrome’s OCN Distribution arm. The Region Free Blu-ray disc is housed in a transparent keepcase with reversible artwork featuring An Ex-Hooker’s Christmas Carol. The disc loads the Saturn’s Core logo and the Sharkey Video logo before landing on the Main Menu screen with scenes from the film playing against typical navigation options.
Backwoods Marcy heads to Trevorstown on an AVC encoded 1080p Blu-ray in the original 1.33:1 aspect ratio. While no exact information is provided about this HD image, the film’s 2018 digital remastering by Saturn’s Core for VHS FEST II is more than likely the same one presented here. Check out the archival VHS cut in the special features to see a direct comparison between the original and this digital remastering. An overall uptick in sarpness and a reduction of blur in motion is apparent with the remastered version cleaning up the most obvious hallmarks of handheld VHS filmmaking.
Colors take on a hazy aura though primaries show confidence within reds and greens. There is very little artistic tinkering here keeping the feature raw and straight out of the camera. VHS lovers won’t be disappointed with the occasional tracking lines that frequently show up. As expected the technical limitations of the format are apparent but that’s the appeal of SOV horror, right? Overall a respectable presentation of the feature taylored for fans and curious audiences.
Backwoods Marcy arrives on Blu-ray with a respectable DTS-HD MA 2.0 Stereo audio track. Dialogue is clear and clean with minimal distortion. Hiss is prominent but never distracting. Eerie synth scoring composed by Dawn Murphy dominates the feature creating an ominous atmosphere.
Saturn’s Core loaded this release with special features and even packed on extra content for the bonus film as well. While most of the featurettes are in HD they are still presented in a 1.33:1 format. Set aside your entire evening to dig through all the great interviews, commentaries, and archival footage found here.
Backwoods Marcy successfully flipped the script on SOV horror by putting a naked man in a cage for once and giving the role of horny redneck cannibal to a woman. The film works well to establish the characters and get the ball rolling on the torture and sex scenes making the 70-minute runtime a breeze. The Blu-ray from Saturn’s Core via Vinegar Syndrome is an excellent package with a respectable A/V presentation and loads of special features. This release is recommended For Fans Only.