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Hick Flicks: The Rise and Fall of Redneck Cinema
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on March 24, 2005
I'll say it loud and drunkenly: Hick Flicks is a brilliant analysis, defining the genre and subgenres of movies by and about Redneck-Americans, or, as we prefer, "Sons of the Soil."

Von Doviak starts us with an Alamo Drafthouse Rolling Roadshow ([...] as Scott canoes downriver, encountering hillbillies both planted and au naturale (that means "nekkid" or, in this case, "not planted"), to a riverside viewing of Deliverance. This experience sets Mr. Von D to wondering: "Is that banjo kid available for weddings? Failing that, should I write an in-depth analysis of redneck movies?" The answer, as Scott reveals in a surprising twist, is (brace yourselves for maximum shock value) yes.

Somewhat in the tradition of Jackass, Von D subjected himself to more movies about and by rednecks than is legal in 27 states. Von Doviak divides these into subgenres: trucker movies, stunt driver movies, chicks seeking revenge for what was done to them movies, hillbilly horror movies, documentaries about rural folk, and the like. In fact, in one of the more astounding segments of masochistic horror ever to emerge from scholarly film criticism, Von Doviak undertakes 24 hours of hillbilly horror flicks, starting with the Texas Chain Saw Massacre, which shortly emerges as one of the more intelligent and sensitive movies on the line-up. The guy deserves a Purple Heart.

Anyway, it's fun to laugh at rednecks, especially if, like me, redneck blood courses through your veins (and only occasionally coats your rage-filled hands of justice), but thinking about rednecks and the mysterious ways of redneck culture is hard work and usually limited to slightly contemptuous, brilliantly smart-assed novelists like Harry Crews. Von Doviak leads the way in thinking about an underappreciated segment of film history, one that mostly exists only in documentaries and on the USA Network now. This book's a hoot and a holler and has been scientifically proven to be more fun than a semi full of monkey sidekicks. Go buy it.
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on February 7, 2005
Hick Flicks is a fantastic and fun read. It's a bit like a walk down memory lane - summers of bad movies at the drive-in. God do I miss a good drive-in.

I did have some disturbing dreams about Bigfoot and the dude from The Hills Have Eyes, but I blame that as much on my cold medicine as I do on the book.

Scott Von Doviak's voice is clear and true, with enough astute observations to border on an entry for the Cahier du Cinema. I would have liked more Maury stories, but that's me. I'm a sucker for a dog.

Now you may question the relevance of a book like Hick Flicks. Hillbilly exploitation films died out with gas rationing (more or less). But I'd argue that with all this Red State/Blue State nonsense they're probably more relevant than ever.

Hollywood marketed 30 years ahead of where politics moved in the past two elections. Put that in yer corncob pipe and smoke it.
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on April 19, 2016
Fun,informative book. Kind of stuff I like to buy. Writer goes deep on a fun subject.
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on July 5, 2005
You don't actually have to care much about redneck movies to like this book - I didn't, at least not much, but Von Doviak drew me into it, largely due to his amiable writing style and sharp sense of humor - he performed the impossible task of making a history of redneck cinema actually very personable. This must be what it's like to sit down and have a beer with Von Doviak and talk hixploitation. But the book is not some vanity piece meant to spotlight the author's personality at the expense of the subject - quite the opposite. Von Doviak covers his subject with a mix of knowledge and humor that reveals his understanding of the ridiculous nature of the films he has set about to cover, while at the same time treating their history with respect and providing context that deflects the possible cliched insults that could be lobbed at these movies..

We need more people like Mr. Von Doviak writing about popular culture - he presents an unusual take on a subject that is never over the top. The book is fresh, lively, unstudied in the best possible meaning of the term, and laced with a self-deprecating sarcasm that many more critics could take cues from as they get to know their subject.
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on February 8, 2005
We all now know that the 1970s was the period of the American movie Renaissance, when such artists as Coppola and Scorsese and Altman broke free to strew masterpieces across the landscape. But for some of us, in certain parts of the country, it was also the time when we huddled together on the playground or at the back of the school bus to trade rumors, in awestruck whispers, about what brand of violent justice was meted out by Buford Pusser in "Walking Tall" and what wiseguy putdown Gator McCluskey said to the sheriff in "White Lightning" and what horrors were to be seen in "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" and just how real "The Legend of Boggy Creek" was supposed to be. It was the era of Earl Owensby and Hal Needham and a time when both Jan-Michael Vincent and Jethro Bodine could be seen playing violent rednecks. Scott Von Doviak brings it all back, in such a way as to provide an alternative film history of the period, a free-wheeling period of creative ferment, countercultural experimentation and demented hucksterism as seen through the bottom of a corn likker bottle. It also happens to be the funniest book I've read in ages.
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on March 24, 2006
... but Von Doviak did it. Wow. This is the kind of pop culture read that I really like. Smart, funny, thoroughly knowledgeable. It was a fun and yet totally definitive exploration of a film genre that no one has really ever tackled. Maybe no one thought it was worth tackling? But Von Doviak braved the (swampy) waters beautifully. And being from Texas, I admit I was concerned that the book was going to rip apart my treasured Southern culture- but it didn't. This guy deserves a case of Lone Star.
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