THE EVICTORS (1979) Blu-ray
Director: Charles B. Pierce
Scream Factory/Shout! Factory

When Shout! Factory’s ever-impressive Scream Factory arm began some five years ago, one of their earliest releases was independent regional filmmaker Charles B. Pierce’s THE TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN, a popular drive-in film which preceded the slasher craze of the late 1970s and 1980s. This was with good reason, as the frequently-requested title had never been out on DVD and at that time it was premiered as a Blu-ray/DVD combo. As a welcomed extra to Scream’s 2013 release of TOWN, Pierce’s THE EVICTORS was added to the package in standard definition as part of the DVD portion, as it too had never been available on the format. One would never have imagined that they would go back and re-do THE EVICTORS in HD and release it on Blu-ray, but now it’s arrived, better late than never!

In a sepia tone flashback, we witness that in 1928, the inhabitants of a Louisiana farmhouse draw gunfire on the police when they are served with repossession papers and asked to leave the premises. Years later, in 1942, the newly married couple of Ben (Michael Parks, THE PRIVATE FILES OF J. EDGAR HOOVER) and Ruth Watkins (Jessica Harper, THE PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE) move into the same house after Ben takes a lucrative factory job in the area. Ruth learns from a neighbor that the house has a history of violent murders, and she also finds a note in her mailbox warning the couple to leave. But the worst is yet to come as Ruth is subjected to a prowler who keeps creeping around the house while Ben is working long hours, miles from the secluded farmhouse.

I really don’t want to give any more away for those who never saw THE EVICTORS (the few that have probably caught it on HBO in the early 1980s or rented the long out of print Vestron Video tape). PG-rated and low on gore, the film is an intense thriller, nicely directed by Pierce in a slow, escalating plot structure that creates the proper moodiness. Like with THE TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN, Pierce (who based this on a story he read in a crime magazine) goes for a period setting, with several other sepia tone flashbacks aside from the one in the opening scene. There are a few clichés (typical of "house" horror movies) and the twist ending is a bit confusing, but the story works for the most part and it’s well acted by a familiar cast including the leads Parks (who has had a career resurgence in recent years due to Quentin Tarantino’s casting him in a number of his films, but sadly passed away in 2017) and SUSPIRIA cult icon Harper playing the ideal damsel in distress.

Top-billed Vic Morrow (HUMANOIDS FROM THE DEEP)—his screen time is limited but his character is essential—plays a chauvinistic real estate agent and WITHOUT WARNING’s Sue Ane Langdon (the third actress to play Alice Kramden in Jackie Gleason's “The Honeymooners” TV sketches and shows) is a friendly, wheelchair-bound neighbor who any seasoned horror fan will sense is up to no good. Character actor Dennis Fimple (CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAKE) can be seen briefly in the last scene and hardly seen at all is prominently-billed Bill Thurman (the star of such Larry Buchanan creature features as IN THE YEAR 2889 and IT’S ALIVE) plays a preacher. Jaime Mendoza-Nava (GRAVE OF THE VAMPIRE) composes a terrific score equal to or better than the one he provided for TOWN. Producer/director Pierce (who died in 2010) had started his professional film career in the 1960s mainly as a set decorator, and would work in this capacity on a number of AIP films including DILLINGER, LITTLE CIGARS, COFFY and SCREAM BLACULA SCREAM (all released in 1973). After helming THE LEGEND OF BOGGY CREEK and BOOTLEGGERS, he would go on to produce and direct a total of five features for Sam Arkoff’s company between 1975 and 1979, THE EVICTORS being the last. It’s also one of the final features released by AIP before Sam Arkoff sold the company (followed by it becoming Filmways).

Scream Factory presents THE EVICTORS on Blu-ray in a new High-Definition film transfer taken from the interpositive. The film is presented in 1080p in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio with the picture quality being finely detailed and exhibiting excellent definition and superb clarity. Colors are rich and nicely saturated, black levels are strong, textures impress, flesh tones appear natural and the grain is ideally maintained and filmic. The source materials show very little wear and are quite pristine actually. The sound is provided in a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mono mix, which is free of hiss or distortion. The music and dialogue are clear, although you might need to put on the optional English subtitles when actor Lucius Farris (as the traveling peddler) speaks, as he’s often hard to decipher. Extras include the original theatrical trailer, a vintage pressbook gallery and a radio spot. (George R. Reis)