"The magnificent river has torn the guts out of the Colorado desert and created the Grand Canyon. It's (sic) waters thrash and thunder their way over the rapids, ripping apart everything that floats.
Brave men and fools challenge this, the most savage of all rivers. But it's not the thuggery of the rapids that stabs fear into these in-land surf riders ... it's the killer on board that's going to turn the mighty Colorado into a river-of-blood!!! "
There is a video tape; you watch it and then, seven days later, you - well, you don't die exactly - but you'll be more than a little lucky not to be propelled into a deep, boredom induced coma.
Chasing slasher Holy Grails is fine (in fact, the chasing is usually 90% of the fun), the trouble comes when you actually track one of the buggers down. Just once it'd be great to rediscover a lost classic; a slasher gem that time, and everyone else forgot. SAVAGE WATER is certainly no treasure (put it this way, it's more kidney stone than gem stone). In-fact, this soggy clunker is in the running for the worst slasher flick of the golden era! It may come as no great surprise that this monumentally dreadful movie was never released on any format in America (it may have played on Auntie Marylu's living-room wall in Buttfuk, Idaho, I just don't know, but it never got a VHS, let alone a DVD, release there). However, someone - who could probably sell snow to eskimos - sold it to Europe, and so, one fateful morning I stumbled across a dusty copy sitting amongst the other debris at a Sunday morning boot sale. I can't say I wasn't warned, I picked it up and paid the man 50 shiny new pence (his smile alone hinted that I'd freed him of a curse!), stuffed it in my bag and shamefacedly took that diabolical lump of plastic home home with me.
So, there it sat, unwatched, just another tape on the shelf. However, sometimes, late at night, I would get that uneasy feeling that someone - or something - was watching me and, turning around, the pallid, greyish box that contained THAT film always caught my eye. Eventually, I could take it no longer. Feeling a little like Pandora, I opened the box, apologised profusely to my VCR and slipped it in ...
I had been warned (I'll never learn), but it was oh so much worse than I could ever have feared. ... Beginning with an ominous voice, intoning over a shaky visage of the Grand Canyon and a muddy looking Colorado River: "Tower Walls and waterfalls that seem impossible to be. This majestic canyon river that so many come to see. But it's only there for those that dare, to take its challenge. Bold and free. Oh, Colorado, you're so beautiful to me ...". As if that poet-laurette worthy word play wasn't enough it continues, only the atonal voice actually begins to 'sing', accompanied by a country guitar. ... My natural instincts were to grab the remote and make it stop (MAKE IT STOP!), but I had to be strong. I had to ...
SAVAGE WATER, my friends, is the 'epic' tale of murder among tourists on a white water rafting holiday. Sounds like it has potential, sure, but don't be fooled. Much of the first third of the film is made up of people fiddling about with dingy's (and even more talking about them), as we, the unfortunate audience, are introduced to the 'cast'. There's the crew of the 'Wild West White Water Rafters', who all stand around and prattle on and on about the task at hand. There's the elderly German couple, who drunkenly drive into the picture to the sound of a loud marching band (and for some strange reason "Herr Doc Professor Mueller" shakes a fist full of sausage at passing traffic!). There's the comedy Sheik Mamood, who has never been kissed and, in an incongruously sing-song Indian accent, is unable to string more than two words of dialogue together at one time (it's perhaps the worst performance I have *ever* seen - and that's really saying something!). The brash, nouveaux-rich middle-aged couple from California: the wife (who seems to have gone to the Edith Massey school of method acting) screeching to one of the tour staff, "You'll have to tell me all the exciting things we're going to do on this trip! It must be wonderful to be a river boat man like Tom Sawyer or Mark Twain.". Then there's the hippie-chick who wants to be at one with nature, "If there really is a creator on this Earth, I can't imagine a better place to meet him than down in that canyon!". Plus, the suspicious sounding psychiatrist in the loud shirt and bottle top shades, who boasts to his fellow travelers that he'd like to nudge himself over the edge into insanity as an experiment, but he's worried he might not be able to come back! ... Oh, there's more (all making their one and only foray into the movie business, I'll wager) but my strength is ebbing and I have to get on with the unfurling, er, plot ...
Finally, this bloated tourist group are transported to the river in a luxurious cattle truck, and plant their fat asses in the dingy's and head for the rapids, but any sense of impending excitement is soon evaporates as one of the many prep-talks the tourists (and we, the poor audience) have to listen to gets under way: "There's a thing called hypothermia - a killer of the unprepared!", babbles one of the guides; before adding the cliffhanger, "We have a portable potty", just as they dip and bob on the frothy tide. And, of course, with a cast this monumentally wooden you know there's no chance, should they fall in, any of them are going to sink below the waters (worst luck!) - a point proved when one of the cast members tries to up the dramatic ante by falling into the 'ol Colorado (the tension being somewhat undermined as you can see her concentrating and timing her moment, shifting this way and that, before taking her unchoreographed tumble into the white froth). Rather than breaking her limbs like rag doll back flipping over Niagara she doggy paddles back to safety in 20 seconds flat. So much for dramatic tension!
Eventually, the group moor the boats and set up camp. Cue more 'character building', as a lard arsed moron by the name of William Souffle blahs on about how wealthy he is, "There's too many poor people in the world - I'd be much richer if there weren't so many poor people!", he muses. We then have a lengthy 'comic' interlude revolving around that damn portable potty. Housed inside a khaki tent, the Californian housewife with the air-raid siren voice disappears inside only for a seemingly endless succession of cast members to wander up and try and get in, only to be vocally rebuffed by the lady (doing her best outraged Mink Stole impression). The final straw is when a naughty little boy pisses up the side of the tent; bursting out she roars at the staff, "That man tried to urinate on me through the potty tent walls, just to torment me!". Just to add to this comic cataclysm, she fingers the wrong person: the drug munching black guy, who throws back what I presume is meant to be a red herring, "You sure don't sound like you come from California ...", he observes, archly. Oooh, the plot thickens. ...
During the whole potty debacle one character gives up waiting outside the tent, "I kinda lost the urge", he mumbles. Funnily enough, by this point I'd almost lost the urge - to live that is!
Now, the only thing that could possibly keep me watching the unfurling tedium was the promise that - surely to God - the cast would be soon be bumped off one-by-one. And, at last, someone has the good manors to start doing that: first, the black guy is pushed to his death from a cliff side, landing in a bloody mess in front of a couple of open mouthed bathers. Predictably, an epidemic of bad acting and much gurning ensues as everyone runs around with their hands in the air trying not to bump into each other. Also predictably, the radio is found to be broken and they decide the only way to get out is to carry on with their trip down river. Any suspicions that the first death was an accident are soon dispelled when Susie, the flirty blond (who wins the award for best actor, which isn't saying much), is surprised from behind, "Oooh, what have you got behind your back, big boy?", she purrs. Well, it's a bloody great knife and pretty soon she's victim number two. Cue more gormless hysteria. One of them muses, "We can only pray our luck is going to change.". All I could pray was that the tape was going to snap.
SAVAGE WATER takes a teaspoon of DELIVERANCE and a bloody great dollop of PLAN 9 FROM OUT OF SPACE and puts it through a blender. Not in the history of the motion picture has so little acting talent been gathered together in such a big cast. Seriously, it's so bad it makes a stinker like HAVE A NICE WEEKEND look like REAR WINDOW! It's faults are legion, but high up there is the fact that the scriptwriter obviously thought that endless philosophical discussions about such thrilling topics such as a karma - where two wooden cast members stand around and try not to say their lines at the same time - was a good substitute for suspense. Of course, it isn't just that, we also get in depth discussions about about such riveting subjects such as the best route to take down river. The monster cast doesn't help either; what's the point of having so many people when the majority of them survive anyway?
The plusses? Well, some of the camera work ain't bad and the scenery can't fail look impressive. There's also some small modicum of excitement when the killer is unmasked (or are they?!) during a fight as the boats hurtle over the rapids. Still, these small bon-bons can't save it.
And, as I watched the credits roll one bit of dialogue was ringing in my ears, "Why did this happen to me?". Oh, why indeed. SAVAGE WATER, it sunk into obscurity before, let it go back to its rightful resting place.
BODYCOUNT 8 female:3 / male:51) Male pushed to his death from cliff