Fighting Mad (1976)
When watching a movie from the Roger Corman stable of productions there should be a certain expectation level going in which includes some violence and nudity for the drive in crowd. For this Peter Fonda starring effort we get what we came for but a little extra which should come as no surprise as the film was written and directed by future Oscar winner Jonathan Demme.
For this hybrid film that is kind of a cross between Shane and Death Wish we have single Dad Peter Fonda returning to the family ranch which is run by Fonda’s father played by the always reliable John Doucette.
Outside forces are at work to push the homesteaders from their lands by a big time strip mining company run by Philip Carey. Carey is not above bribing local politicians or sending in some muscle when needed. He crosses the line when ordering the deaths of Fonda’s brother and sister-in-law in a scene that plays very brutally on screen in true seventies cinema fashion.
From here Fonda goes into revenge mode and the film plays out to a satisfying conclusion. For a Corman production this film has some positive things going for it. Fonda and Doucette are very good as the father son team and we also get a young Scott Glenn turning up as well. Glenn would go on to appear in Demme’s most popular feature Silence of the Lambs. Carey is a suitable villain bringing a nice touch of self righteousness to the role. The budget allowed for some helicopter shots giving the film a sense of size not always seen in the Corman line of productions. Perhaps he realized Demme had talent or that Fonda was a bankable commodity during this era. Nice job on the soundtrack as well, the music seems to suit the film’s backwoods small town country settings.
For the action crowd this is a well made seventies flick that simmers to a boil and is out on DVD as a double feature with another 1976 Roger Corman production titled Moving Violation.