Russ Meyer's "Mudhoney" (1965), is one twisted, dark, mean, southern gothic melodrama of a movie...like The Andy Griffith Show gone horribly awry. This movie has a down home charm, but there is an ominous and foreboding atmosphere throughout, with a shuddering sense of violence of depravity.
"Mudhoney" is a about an ex-prisoner Calif McKinney (played by John Furlong) who comes into town looking for work. He finds a job at a farm that is owned by Lute Wade ( Stuart Lancaster) but ran by the drunken, adulturous Sidney Brensaw (Hal Hopper). The ex-con Calif beigns to set his eyes on the drunken Brenshaw's voluptious wife Hannah (Antoinette Christiani). All chaos ensues as Calif faces Brenshaw's wrath. Lute, the farm owner, has a lot of money and a bum ticker. Nothing will stand in the maniacal Brenshaw's way of getting his hands on this dough after Lute passes...
"Mudhoney" is a work of genius. The acting, pacing, and cinematography are excellent, with a script that exudes evil. Hal Hopper gives an incredible performance as Sidney Brenshaw. His performance is loaded with drunken testosterone and violence. Brenshaw's character is frightening indeed. He flies into drunken rages at the drop of a hat, frequents the town whorehouse frequently, and beats his wife. Just look into his eyes alone and you know this is a person you want to stay away from. Stuart Lancaster does a great job as Lute, the wisened owner of the farm. Do you remember him from "Faster Pussycat Kill Kill"? He turns in an excellent performance here. Down to earth yet tough. You take an immediate liking to him, and he has some of the best lines in the movie. There are many strange characters in this film that add a certain southern gothic charm. The neighborhood brothel/moonshine still is full of interesting characters, amongst them a beautiful mute played by Lorna Maitland, whose seductive presence practically radiates throughout the movie. There is also a preacher played by Frank Bolger whose disheveled appearance and hellfire and brimstone dialogue adds a morbid tone to the film.
The story moves at a tense, maddening pace, only stopping every now and then for a breather to take him some of the charms/horrors of sinful country living. The dialogue is stilted and full of dread, but it does have it's humorous moments. The beautiful black and white photography is crisp and clean. Russ Meyer's gray, wide open skies never looked so ominous. This movie is darker than "Faster Pussycat Kill Kill", which came out that same year. They are both great films, but "Mudhoney" is a bit harder to watch on first viewing because it is not quite as over the top...it s more subdued but nonetheless rewarding. Highly recommeded.