Movies From the Black Lagoon: Deliver Us from Evil

Movies From the Black Lagoon
Deliver Us from Evil - 1973, Unrated
By Tom Doty

Five ordinary men transform into a quintet of back stabbing jerks when they stumble across a small fortune in this excellent thriller that benefits from tight scripting and a talented cast.
We open with a long shot of six men on a hike. It's a bold choice as the audience feels like they are eavesdropping on a rather mundane vacation. It's obvious the men are in no hurry and their banter reveals that they are somewhat unfamiliar with each other. The point may be that you never real know anybody but who cares as this is a thriller that wastes little time getting to the good stuff.
The group is eventually revealed in close-up and we meet the players. Their guide/leader is Dixie. He's a rugged mountaineer who enjoys the simple lifestyle and has no ambitions to ever be rich. His hikers, however, are another matter. They are: Cowboy-a thrice divorced businessman who is paying three quarters of his earnings in alimony; Dennis- an accountant with an eye on Wall Street but not a whole lot of investment capital; Zabruki- a middle aged, middle income worker who dreams of quitting his factory job to sip umbrella laden drinks on a beach somewhere: Nick- a twenty something guy coming off a divorce that proved his marriage wasn't strong enough to ride out some financial setbacks: and Fleming- the father of Nick who has gone into hock in order to make sure his son had a college education.
The guys are about to make camp when Cowboy thinks he has spotted a parachute alighting in the distance. Dixie assures him that he probably saw a bird but the group starts to drift towards Cowboy's interpretation when a radio broadcast reveals that a manhunt is currently underway for a thief who hijacked an aircraft and made good his escape via parachute.
They decide to aid in the search and actually stumble across a skittish hiker who takes off like a rabbit. Cowboy opts to live up to his nickname and promptly shoots the guy. There is a brief shock when victim's backpack turns out to be chock full of camping gear but they soon discover that he does have the missing loot. They don't waste much time rationalizing why they are entitled to the money. Dixie senses where this is going and decides to use a short cut to get them back to civilization. Unfortunately the new path is also more dangerous as evidenced by Dixie's fatal fall form a mountain ledge.
They say the "Lords Prayer"(hence the title) and decide to keep the money. Nick and his dad need some convincing but they wisely decide to not make any waves. Nature appears to have an opinion too and soon the cats is dropping like flies as the elements join forces with their hasty judgments to insure that nobody forgets that blood was spilled for this money.
This leads to some gripping drama as the men soon find themselves acting out of character (one example is how they quickly douse their campfire when an airplane is overhead despite the fact that its freezing out). They become consumed with how to spend the money so much that they neglect their survival instincts at their own peril. Only two of these guys will survive this ordeal but the more important question becomes how do you define survival when the living pretty much wish they were dead?
The ensemble acting is what makes this thriller cook. George Kennedy stars as Cowboy and he's awfully god at being bad. He gets to plays against type as well. He was usually the good guy in just about every disaster movie of the 70s. Jan-Michael Vincent is also good here as the Nick. He is about the closest thing to a goof guy that the film allows.
This premiered on the ABC Movie of the Week in 1973 and has since disappeared for the most part. It shows up on TBS once in awhile or you can find it on DVD-R at ioffer.com. Those of you who like to download flicks might find it at hulu.com.
Best Line: "Seattle. I spent a month there one weekend."

Tom Doty occasionally emerges from the Lagoon to check his e-mail and to read to children every Wednesday at 10:30am at Borders in Hagerstown. If you'd like to get a message to him, write to: dotyfox@myactv.net.