DIRECTOR: Paul W. Kener
WRITER: Kipp Boden
Gil Van Waggoner
When a group of holidaymakers books themselves in for a camping and rafting trip. It will hopefully be their dream holiday. Sailing down the Colorado River while getting to experience the rapids of the Grand Canyon is a once in a lifetime experience. Little do the group realise that once they have made it far away from civilisation that someone doesn't want to go back to city life and is on the run from the authorities. This maniac will do anything to stop these people trying to get home.
Reading up on the trivia and history for Savage Water. It feels a lot more intense and scarier than the finished film itself. Savage Water has a very troubled production that is better documented than the reviews that can be found for this lost movie. It would explain why this movie is one of the hardest to come by pieces of cinema that I think I've ever tried to track down. I knew finding obscure slashers from the seventies and eighties would be no easy feat, but this was one difficult to locate film.
Savage Water never actually saw a theatrical or video release in the United States of America. The movie was filmed and financed in the United States but never actually got that release. That should tell you something about these Savage Waters. With no release stateside, the movie sort of just faded into obscurity. That was until Vinegar Syndrome released it on DVD a few years back, but it was quickly halted and pulled from the schedule due to copyright issues.
Going into Savage Water, I was actually excited to see it. For a movie that took blood, sweat, and tears to try and review as part of my slasher retrospective. It has been a battle, to say the least. So when I finally sat down to watch it. My month long quest felt immediately wasted. I have to wonder was Savage Water really lost or did those involved in the production of the movie want to see this hidden from the public? Did the studio want to see this buried due to the quality? I guess we'll never really know.
Where do you begin with a movie like Savage Water? The movie is first described as a slasher. Some would even call this a proto-slasher. Following closely to now five years of seventies slasher movies, this one is only a slasher in the loosest possible term. For the first hour and fifteen minutes of Savage Water, it is spent with a group of people who are so stupid and careless that most of the victims end up killing themselves by falling off cliff faces while rock climbing. The actual murders don't start being shown until the third act of the film.
A huge problem with Savage Water is the script and character development. The film does have a paper-thin plot in there somewhere, but with such a big cast, the movie doesn't do any character building. We spend a good ten minutes getting to our actual location where we are introduced to possibly thirty or more characters, and while the characters spend at least forty-five minutes talking to each other, we learn nothing at all about these characters. So when they all start dying, I couldn't tell who was who as they were all interchangeable. I didn't feel a thing for any of these people.
The editing in Savage Water needs to be mentioned. It's horrible. The movie is edited so poorly that this doesn't help this story at all. There is no cohesion here. With quick edits during death scenes to characters talking where it will then suddenly cut to the characters rafting or swimming. I didn't know what was happening. We have several moments in the film where the film will be starting to ramp up the tension and cut to the group rafting through rapids. It made no sense. I wasn't sure if we were getting a new group of holidaymakers or it was the same people at the beginning. This movie is all over the place.
When it comes to the quality, this is low budget, guerilla filmmaking. I don't know if it was the intention of the director, but it feels like there were visual flourishes here. At several times during the movie, we suddenly cut to a new scene, and the entire thing is colour corrected with a dark blue tinge. It makes an already difficult to watch movie even harder to sit through. We have one scene where two scenes are edited over the top of each other that would make anyone with epilepsy have a fit. You can barely see what's happening at the best of times and this trippy moment comes out of nowhere. Very odd choices from the filmmaker.
Lastly, I found the acting to be amateurish. As I couldn't really work out who was who from this overly populated cast. I can't even tell you who was the best of a bad bunch here. No one stood out for me in Savage Water which was pretty disappointing to see. I think had the director and writer tried to scale back on all the victims, we may have seen an improvement and focus had we had fewer characters. This entire production is messy, and now I get an idea of why this film never saw the light of day inside its home country.
DEATH TOLL: 9
BLOOD AND GORE:
- A man's body falls off a cliff and into a rock pool.
- A man is bitten by a snake.
- Someone is stabbed in the back.
- A man's body is hit with a raft propellor.
- A man is hanged from a tree.
- A young boy drowns.
- Someone falls off a cliff to their death.
- A woman is found dead.
- A woman's corpse is found dead and bloodied on the rocks.
- A man splits his head open when he falls off a cliff.
Savage Water doesn't feel all that much like a slasher. This feels like an instructional video on what not to do when rock climbing or adventuring through Colorado and the Grand Canyon. With too many characters, no character development, terrible editing, amateurish acting, and a less than stellar killer reveal. This movie is sadly not worth the month-long hunt for it. Savage Water can stay dead and buried for me. Only seek it out if you want to see the Z-grade version of Deliverance and Rituals.