Writers: Curtis Brown Taylor, Jim Lowe
Composers: Jack K. Tillar, Don Wilkins
Starring: Mercedes McCambridge, Ford Rainey, Maidie Norman, John Lozier, Simone Griffeth, Buddy Foster, Beverly Powers, Peter Greene, Parley Baer, Robert Corley, Mitchell Edmonds, Raymond Edmonds, Jewell Futch, Walter Kramer, Lyla Hay Owen, Sonny Shroyer, Boots Tudor
More info: IMDb
Tagline: She Learned Everything The Hard Way
Plot: A beautiful young girl from the country experiences life's bittersweet realities in this coming-of-age drama set in the rural South. When a highway is built near her home and a traveling carnival comes to town, the teenage Naomi (Simone Griffeth) falls in love for the first time and is exposed to the seedier side of human nature.
My rating: 7/10
Will I watch it again? Nah.
Here's a nice surprise. I expected a sleazy hicksploitation picture but I was surprised just a few minutes in how well acted and filmed it was. Seriously. This is a well-written and performed flick. The actors playing the family really sold it. Their performances felt pretty damn genuine. I got where they were coming from and I was sure as shit about to bust up whoever came at them trying to steal their money. The first sumbitch that tried was The Reverend (weaselly played by Parley Baer). There's a good deal of time spent at a carnival which was all kinds of fun. I was really taken in at the family experiencing it for the first time. The title refers to the age of the daughter, Naomi. She enters a walk-through house of horrors and it's not long before she's scarred to death to the point of tears. The music, editing, direction, lighting all worked beautifully to the point that it felt like something lifted out of a top notch horror film. I'm really impressed with the quality of this picture all around. I couldn't tell you who the weakest acting link is as they all did a great job. Now, there is some elements of exploitation like incest and some nudity but it's not the sleazefest you'd expect with a film that fits in that genre to a degree. Oh, and the final act does not disappoint. I could just be staying up way past my bedtime and I'm imagining things but this is a good film that hit me from left field. Holy crap! How did I not recognize Simone Griffeth (as Naomi)? She played Annie, Frankenstein's navigator in DEATH RACE 2000 (1975). And looking at the credits of the rest of the family (with the exception of Lozier whose sole credit is this picture), they've all got a long list of credits. McCambridge was the voice of the possessed Regan in THE EXORCIST (1973)!!! Director Lawrence Dobkin has over 200 acting credits and a crapload of directing credits. Oddly, despite cranking out a good script, the two writers only ever did this one thing. The print I saw was a crappy fullscreen VHS copy. The trailer above (and IMDb) shows that it was shot in a wider format. I'll watch this again only if I can get my hands on that one. Check this on out, y'all.