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Beim Sterben ist jeder der erste

USA 1972
produced by
John Boorman, for Elmer Productions/Warner Brothers
directed by John Boorman
starring Jon Voight, Burt Reynolds, Ned Beatty, Ronny Cox, Ed Ramey, Billy Redden, Seamon Glass, Randall Deal, Bill McKinney, Herbert 'Cowboy' Coward, Lewis Crone, Ken Keener, James Dickey, Macon McCalman, Hoyt Pollard
written by James Dickey, based on his novel, cinematography by Vilmos Zsigmond

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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A quartet of city slickers - Ed (Jon Voight), Lewis (Burt Reynolds), Drew (Ronny Cox) & Bobby (Ned Beatty) - want to go canoeing on a backwoods river only weeks before it is to be blocked up by a giant dam & turned into a lake.. But already when they arrive they have to realize they have little in common with the countryfolks & are terribly out of place when trying to go back to nature - not that that would keep them from trying anyways. Nature itself doesn't seem to be quite as hospitable as they thought either, but if they thought they have problems now ...

Eventually, the canoe of Ed & Bobby drifts a bit away from that of the others, & the 2 of them get out for a rest, when they are atacked by 2 hillbillies, who promptly tie up Ed & rape Bobby. Then they want to force Ed to give them head, when one of the hillbillies is killed by an arrow shot by Lewis - an expert archon. The other hillbillie runs off, but now our quartet has a murder on their hands, & after some consultation they decide to bury the corpse & hush the hole thing up, as once the area is flooded it is unlikely the body will ever be found.

But when they at last make their getaway, Drew has a nervous breakdown & falls off the canoe ... & when the others try to save him, they get into some fierce rapids that wrecks one of their canoes & leaves Lewis badly injured ... Drew however cannot be found anywhere. But by now the others are convinced that Drew was shot by the runawaya hillbillie, & that he's hiding upon the next rocks, watching them, waiting to make another kill. So Ed decides to climb up these rocks, to take defending them into his hands, but once up he's to pumped out to do anything other than to collapse ... just a good thing no hillbillie is up there waiting them. Hours later, upon waking up, Ed really sees someone with a gun, feels attacked (though he isn't) & kills him with Lewis' bow-&-arrow. Of course it was not the runaway-hillbillie they thought to be behind them, & now they have antoher murder on their hands ...

Going further down the river,t hey find the dead body of Drew ... who of couse had not been shot at all but was lethally injured in the rapids. With a definite feeling of unease, & convinced they are watched every step along the way, they slowly make their way back to civilisation in their canoe, until reaching the village they had had their cars parked at unharmed, & for the law, they cook up a bogus story about how Drew died & Lewis got badly injured ... & despite the sheriff showing that he doesn't believe them one bit, they get away scot-free.

But the murders are always on their conscience, & might any of the corpses be found eventually ?


Concerning the backwood-terror movies, Deliverance can be pretty much called a genre-forming film (even though its genre elements did show up all through movie history, as it is pretty much a cross between horror & Western). Later prominent films of this subgenre include Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Hills have Eyes, to a point also Blair Witch Project, & any number of forgettable teen-horror flicks like Wrong Turn. (Truth to be told, a full 8 years prior to this movie, gore-director Herschell Gordon Lewis did make his version of backwoods terror, 2000 Maniacs, which didn't have quite the same impact on the genre though, as by & large, Lewis' films form a genre all of their own).

Deliverance itself is working especially well though because it leaves out most of the shock elements, most of the menace the protagonists encounter is not even real at all but in the imagination of these men out of their element, & this eventually makes them much more dangerous than the situation they are thrown in. However, director John Boorman does not tell this on an intellectual level but throws in enough action to entertain his audience without moralizing.


review © by Mike Haberfelner


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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD