The Hunting Party seemed like it should be good. Gene Hackman, a longtime fave of mine, Oliver Reed, a new fave, in a western, one of my favourite genres...a movie with a reputation for 70's- style gritty violence. I ask you, how on Earth could that be bad?
Well, it is bad, and very bad. I'm a person who doesn't easily say something like that about a western. If you ask around, you'll find that I'm a guy that loves a western show, and I have a broad range of tastes; serials, B-reels, television shows, TV movies (up into the 90's), epics, Spaghettis, you name it.
This one was impossible to take.
Against my (usually correct) instincts, I put THE HUNTING PARTY back on the screen and started jumping ahead in short chunks to see if things maybe got better; Reed and Hackman, right? It...could have gotten better...couldn't it? It could have, it certainly should have, but in reality, it didn't. The further along I went, the more ridiculous it became. Look at the poster here; even Reed seems to know that this is a stinker.
Hackman and Reed were really saddled, so to speak, with a pretentious dud here. It was trying so hard to be a gritty, hard-ass cowboy picture of it's era, like THE WILD BUNCH, CHATO'S LAND, THE PROFESSIONALS, and even the more gentle THE HIRED HAND were, but it failed so miserably. Honestly, it came across more like an uncharacteristically bad episode of LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE, but with killings and tits.
Yes. LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE with killings and tits: THE HUNTING PARTY in a nutshell....