|Plot Outline: White Vietnam veteran Jim (Greydon Clark) returns home after the war and takes it on himself to deliver a letter, that his black friend wrote before dying, to his family. He soon gets into a confrontation with the dead man’s brother and his gang. Add to all this a love triangle with two hippie chicks and the dead man’s brother out to put a hurting on Jim and you’ve got the movie in a nutshell.|
The Review: Have you ever watched a movie where you were certain that the director had high intentions for his film in making a grandiose statement, but somewhere along the way he kind of lost his path? The Bad Bunch falls into this category without question. From my own personal vantage point it seems that Greydon Clark was trying to make a film that ultimately questioned all sides of the race issue, but somehow was pressured into adding a gaggle of unnecessary exploitation along the way. That or perhaps he was just let down with his own lack of talent. Clark, who should be well known to b-cinema afficianados, kind of reminds me of Ed Wood. The only difference is that as his career went onwards he didn’t sink so low as to start making porn flicks. He is a filmmaker with great intentions but limited means, and The Bad Bunch is a shining example of this.
I’m serious about this Greydon Clark thing, I’m fascinated by the guy for some reason. I know nothing about him however and I’ve only seen two of his films. The Bad Bunch and Final Justice (on mst3k) being those films, of course. Maybe I haven’t fully explored his filmography due to that recurring theme of his: Badness. Well ‘badness’ is one particular theme, lack of budget is another and the fact that he likes to cast himself often is another staple of his work. Here he’s the star, but in Final Justice he plays a sheriff near the beginning. Anyway, I realize all of Clark’s work after this film tends to be just quick drive-in fare aimed to make a buck, but I think this film is a little different. It’s just as bad as those films, but I think Clark really thought he was going to make something with this movie, but instead he delivered a film that just goes in way too many directions and gets extremely sloppy towards the end.
Unlike a review I read a while back, I don’t think the film is really all too prejudice. I think it shows both races that are explored in a particularly bad light. I think Clark was trying to deliver a racial drama that he felt was true to life, but the unnecessary nudity, cheapness and the amateur acting takes away from any artistic integrity the feature may have hoped to achieve. At one point in the film, everything kind of stops for like five minutes when the ‘bad bunch’ of the title, all go skinny dipping with a bunch of upper class white kids at their pool party. This could have been a scene to further the plot in some way I imagine, but instead it just seems tacked on. The entire film could have went without it, but it seems like a rather cheap device to get some nudity out there and is just one of the many things that feels like it could have been added so they could sell the film easier. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think this film is any kind of masterpiece and Clark was a hapless pawn in the producer’s game. Heck, the man made “Satan’s Cheerleaders”, so you know he’s to blame for a whole lot of everything.
I’m no filmmaker myself, but I believe there has to be a rule about not overusing your scenery. I mean if you’re going to use the same set, at least shoot it differently. It makes sense right? Well, obviously this never crossed Clark’s mind because in the film we are treated to about four different scenes on the same plain “motel” set. Near the end of the film, we are actually treated to two scenes in a row. One woman walks out the door ending the scene and another walks in starting another. I couldn’t help but laugh because if you’re going to re-use a set so often the least you could do is make it a good looking set. Shoot on location in a real hotel if you have to, just give the audience something to look at!
The acting is shoddy, the camerawork is terrible, the sets are incredibly cheap, and the film isn’t really all that fun. I can’t really recommend it, but I’m sure there are some who would enjoy this film. I came close to it, but after thinking it over and re-watching the film I came out with a different opinion. I’ve given it one star for effort and minus four for everything else.
Author’s Note: While going through a lot of these reviews, it’s funny how you find how your opinion changes over time. I find with a lot of these earlier reviews (this was originally written back sometime around 2002 and posted in 2003) while not only being a shade of what I am capable of in terms of writing, they were written with a little less care in terms of judging films as a whole. Here I am about six years later and I still find myself wandering back to The Bad Bunch now and then. Say what you want, the film has staying power. I look at the score of one out of five and cringe now, because I think it deserves a little more than that. If I were to re-review the film now I would score it a three out of five. For what it is, The Bad Bunch is a very decent film. With time and many, many movies later you tend to learn that there are a million different ways to look at a movie and no matter what you think – there will be better and there will be worse. Greydon Clark is indeed a b-film director, but one that should draw a little more notoriety than he recieves. Overall, I now have to say I do reccomend Bad Bunch for fellow blaxploitation fans and drive-in afficianados looking for something a little bit strange.