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Death Ranch Movie Review

Written by Joel Harley

Released by Dark Temple Studios


Written and directed by Charlie Steeds
2020, 78 minutes, Rated 18 (UK)
Grimmfest UK Premiere on October 7th 2020

Deiondre Teagle as Brandon Cobbs
Faith Monique as Angela Cobbs
Travis Cutner as Clarence Cobbs
Scot Scurlock as Delmar


Director Charlie Steeds has come a long way since his Cannibal Farm. Graduating from this and Deadman Apocalypse to his critically acclaimed The Barge People (my own personal favourite) and Winterskin, the filmmaker has gone from strength to strength. All while staying true to his indie roots. Death Ranch is perhaps his most accomplished work of exploitation horror so far.

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Lying low from the law, escaped prison convict Brandon Cobbs (Deiondre Teagle) and his siblings take refuge at an abandoned Tennessee ranch. The African-American Cobbs family couldn't have picked a worse place to hide: this sunny countryside ranch is the stomping ground of the KKK, and they're all too happy to meet the new folks in town. Charlie Steeds being Charlie Steeds, they also happen to be cannibals. Or Ku Klux Klannibals, if you will.

This ugly, nasty, blaxploitation thriller is as authentic grindhouse as modern grindhouse gets. The cinematography and score are spot on, as is Steeds' penchant for over-the-top gore and torture sequences. The first half makes for difficult viewing, with Brandon captured and tortured, and Angela (Faith Monique) raped by the hillbillies. Like the most disturbing rape-revenge movies of the 1970s and 80s, Death Ranch gets under the skin, and leaves a bad taste in the mouth.

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All of which puts it in the best possible position for unleashing righteous vengeance upon its white supremacist monsters. Never has it been more gratifying to see the KKK get theirs, and this the film does a great job of delivering on. The bloodshed is plentiful, the violence cathartic; heads explode like melons, guts are torn asunder and genitals are mutilated willy-nilly.

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Steeds isn't really saying much about the wider world or making commentary on white supremacism – this is a bare-bones survival horror story which just so happens to use the KKK as its villains. The Cobbses could just have easily been beset by your garden-variety cannibals and hillbillies, and it wouldn't have made all that much difference to the story. This is a cross between Django Unchained and Green Room – black vengeance through a white lens.

This dirty, difficult little action thriller is the year's most authentic exploitation film. It may not be to all tastes, but to fans of the tasteless, it should rank as one of the director's best yet.


Movie: 3.5 Star Rating Cover
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About The Author
Joel Harley
Staff Reviewer - UK
Haribo fiend, Nicolas Cage scholar and frequently functioning alcoholic. These are just some of the words which can be used to describe Joel Harley. The rest, he uses to write film criticism for Horror DNA and a variety of websites and magazines. Sometimes he manages to do so without swearing.
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