Movie Review: Fighting the KKK Kannibals of “Death Ranch”

Just so we’re clear, please do NOT pass the ketchup. There’ll be no eating right after “Death Ranch,” and certainly no red meats or anything that comes with French fries.

Here’s an old-fashioned grindhouse “splatter” film, with blood and entrails, racism and riot guns and guys in white sheets threatening to “hang you up on a tree branch.”

As if that threat carries any weight after the gory goings-on we see in this piece of Middle Tennessee.

Brandon (Deiondre Teagle) just busted out of jail in Memphis. Sister Angie (Faith Monique) and big brother Clarence (Travis Cutner) pick him up in a ’59 Caddy Eldorado Biarritz and head for grandpa’s old place, somewhere west of Knoxville.

As the vintage Blaxploitation graphics in the opening credits and the jazz-funk score tell us, it’s 1971, and there’s nothing for it but to hide out with the kid until they can hightail it to Florida.

“They’ve got this new place, Disney World,” where Brandon can start over.

But hell’s bells, who knew Grandpa’s half-abandoned farm was a favorite haunt of the local Klu Klux Klan, a handy place for a cross burning and ritual torture of Black kidnapping victims?

Brandon interrupts their midnight mischief and doesn’t take the fleeing victim’s warning seriously. Well, seriously enough.

“They’ll kill you and they’ll EAT you!”

They will. Because while this branch of the KKK may not be as well-armed as later post-NRA AR-15 marketing incarnations, they leave little trace of their victims. These are KKK cannibals.

Heads explode, pistols open up chest wounds big enough to yank intestines through — “Chew it up, Whitey!” — and axes, machetes and shotguns are wielded to murderous effect as the silly slaughter begins.

And right at dinner time, too!

A stake through the eyeball here, a dismemberment there and next thing you know, we get down to the real violence.

It’s a stupid movie by genre definition. But writer-director Craig Steeds (“An English Haunting”) embraces the stupid, if not nearly enough to lift this to the level of “camp.”

All concerned are more worked-up about the next blast of butchery, the next redneck racist rant, the next “cue the banjoes” moment.

The performances never rise above adequate, so there’s little of the gusto C-movie veterans bring to such enterprises. It never achieved “grossout fun” for me.

Still, it kept a whole lot of bit players in and out of white robes out of trouble for a couple of weeks, so that’s something.

As splatter films go, I’ve seen worse.

MPA Rating: unrated, graphic, gory violence, racial slurs

Cast: Deiondre Teagle, Faith Monique, Travis Cutner, Scott Scurlock, Brad Belemjian

Credits: Scripted and directed by Charlie Steeds. A Shinehouse release.

Running time: 1:17

About Roger Moore

Movie Critic, formerly with McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Orlando Sentinel, published in Spin Magazine, The World and now published here, Orlando Magazine, Autoweek Magazine
This entry was posted in Reviews, previews, profiles and movie news. Bookmark the permalink.