First the Good.From IMDb
Bloody and nihilistic western., 3 July 2008
I'm a big fan of early 70's sadistic westerns and "The Hunting Party" has the special place in my grimy heart. It's among the nastiest, bloodiest and most misanthropic western movies ever made. Obviously influenced by Peckinpah's masterful "The Wild Bunch" it has its share of brutal violence and blown off heads. Even the cow gets its throat slit in the beginning of this nasty spectacle. Gene Hackman plays wealthy town owner filled with rage and misogynistic hatred. When the outlaw named Frank (Oliver Reed) kidnaps his wife (Candice Bergen) for teaching him to read, Hackman forms the hunting group. The bloodbath ensues... Highly cynical western, superbly acted and shot. The shocking finale filled my eyes with tears. A must-see.
Second the bad.
This attempt at a The Wild Bunch-style revisionist Western is fascinating. Unfortunately, it's fascinating for all the wrong reasons: simply put, The Hunting Party is a gruesome, wrong-minded disaster masquerading as a serious statement on man's inhumanity to his fellow man. The characters are a ridiculous lot: antihero Frank Calder is a lame variation of the "noble savage" stereotype, Melissa fulfills the offensive cliché of the repressed society woman who falls in love with the brute who rapes her, and the writers try to cover the paper-thin nature of their villain, Ruger, by having him indulge in all kinds of hateful behavior. The script sets up a solid if rudimentary plot in the first 20 minutes and then proceeds to wander around in circles for the rest of its running time while indulging in periodic outbursts of graphic violence. It all culminates in a shock ending that is as absurd as it is mean-spirited. In terms of acting, Oliver Reed and Gene Hackman struggle with their thin roles to no avail, while Candice Bergen is clearly out of her depth. Director Don Medford gives the mayhem a professional look, but his leaden pacing provides the film with its final nail in the coffin. In short, The Hunting Party is such a dreadful mess that even the hardiest bad-film enthusiasts will want to tune out before the end credits roll.