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High Desert Kill

Kino // PG-13 // August 2, 2022
List Price: $29.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Kurt Dahlke | posted September 20, 2022 | E-mail the Author
High Desert Kill:

What horrors did the late-'80s bring? For one, made-for-TV movies that weren't really made-for-TV since they were made for cable networks like the USA Network. So, while High Desert Kill, (1989) directed by Harry Falk, certainly has a moment or two, and even managed some theatrical showings outside of America, it is neither fish nor fowl. This is one of those releases that might briefly scratch an itch if you saw it as a kid, and enjoy hazy memories of it, or if you have money to burn and need to see everything that Chuck Connors or Marc Singer ever starred in. For the rest of us, it's pretty dorky and poky and only comes to fitful life in the last 20 minutes.

High Desert Kill finds a trio of hunters, Jim, (Anthony Geary General Hospital) Brad, (Marc Beastmaster Singer) and Ray, (Micah Grant) out for a little fun weekend of shooting in the New Mexico badlands. Male model Ray is there in place of his recently deceased uncle Paul (Vaughn Armstrong) who normally would have made the trip. But they are determined to enjoy themselves for the weekend out in the desolation, despite the changes to their usual hunting routine. Unprotected pueblos entice our heroes to exploration, and other campers, hikers, or mountain men might just appear as well!

Some really awkward line readings open the show, which don't set one's expectations very high, and things get off to a slow start as the gentlemen venture past those old pueblos, but at least we're treated to beautiful scenery and some arresting visuals here and there, before the action eventually starts.

Things begin to seem off in the high desert, there's an air of weirdness in the air, so when rancher Stan (Chuck Connors) appears, as well as a couple of young ladies, (Lori Birdsong and Deborah Anne Mansy) events occur, compelling our group to air their differences and hidden feelings, or something. Weirder still, the lady campers suddenly get all randy and want a little high desert loving, but there are only two of them for the four men, allowing the unseemly specter of a three-way with Connors and one of the other gents to arise. (Intentional? Or just this reviewer's twisted imagination? We may never know.)

When things finally start to really deteriorate, which is why we're all here, right? Watching this curious blend of Lifetime and SyFy made for cable nonsense? Well, the Super low-budget weirdness is good enough for some mild late-night fun. We are talking about sincere low-budget, by the way. This movie could be a tutorial on such techniques, with non-stop outdoor vistas allowing for zero dollars spent on sets, lighting, or tricky camera set ups. And when [spoiler alert] people get possessed by a mysterious force, a quizzical look from the actor and a sudden hi-hat sound is all it takes to sell the point! Force-fields are represented by plexiglass and more sound effects, but there is thankfully a cool-looking villain revealed at the end, as well as dudes getting weird, acting severely out of character, killing and eating a bear for no particular reason, and shouting "then we were ASHAMED! Then we had NO CONTROL!" Heady stuff.

High Desert Kill probably doesn't merit a Blu-ray release, except for the fact that it represents continued faith in low-budget genre nonsense movies as a viable way to vacuum up a few dollars. As such, the market for such releases belongs to those who saw it as a kid, or have money to burn and need to see Chuck Connors act sleazy. For the rest of you, Rent It when you have a couple of beers and 90 minutes to kill.


The DVD

Video:
High Desert Kill arrives in a brand new 2K transfer from Kino and Scorpion Releasing. You get the choice to watch in a 1.33:1 ratio, if you wish to honor the movie's TV origins, or a 1.78:1 ratio, as a nod to its ultra-brief, super-limited theatrical run. (I'm choosing the real-deal 4 x 3 joint.) Details are pretty solid, especially in close-up, while maintaining a fair amount of integrity in the middle and background too. Colors appear fairly natural, but aren't exceptionally deep or saturated. A little bit of grain and minor print damage are apparent, and the transfer overall is workable, if not stellar.


Sound:
Audio comes in the form of a 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio mix which performs as expected. Dialog is clean and up front, soundtrack elements are punchy, (they have to be, they do the heavy lifting as far as SPFX are concerned) and the score is tastefully mixed in. No complaints, nothing too special.


Extras:
Extras are limited to English SDH subtitles and the option to watch the film in two different aspect ratios.


Final Thoughts:
High Desert Kill probably doesn't merit a Blu-ray release, except for the fact that it represents continued faith in low-budget genre nonsense movies as a viable way to vacuum up a few dollars. As such, the market for such releases belongs to those who saw it as a kid, or have money to burn and need to see Chuck Connors act sleazy. For the rest of you, Rent It when you have a couple of beers and 90 minutes to kill.

www.kurtdahlke.com

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