A group of yuppies charter a plane for a camping getaway, only to find themselves making an emergency landing on an isolated island. They are taken in for the night by the only inhabitants, the rapidly-religious "Ma & Pa"... more », who seem trapped in a Rockwellian time-warp. This proves to be every bit as unpleasant as it seems.« less
Heather H. from WASILLA, AK Reviewed on 12/2/2013...
I am a firm believer that there is something redeemable about every film. I'm still searching for that illusive movie that proves me wrong. Suffice to say, American Gothic was not that movie.
The film itself is subpar. The acting is actually pretty impressive but the poor actors have a very weak script to deal with. The premise is sound enough. Six friends, convienently falling into three couples, go on a plane flight to help their friend forget about the recent death of her infant. The fact that they're flying to an island and do not think to pack a life raft or anything else to help them get off the island should their plane die does not seem to strike any of them as odd. And so of course the plane dies. The rest is quite predictable, though the details are different enough to be intriguing. The film culminates in our heroine having a nervous breakdown and siding with the killers only to kill them all when she's reminded of her own dead child.
The finale needed work, in my opinion. It was weak and it could have been much better. As I said before, the acting was good, especially when our heroine joined the killers. It was chilling to watch her chanting along with these inbred villains.
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Not exactly a honeymooner's island paradise
Matthew King | Toronto, Canada | 01/06/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"American Gothic is a slice of 80's slasher cheese that throws all horror clichés into a pot of boiling stew and offers no explanation for the absurdities shown on screen. Such as why would someone let a couple of lunatics push them on a swing at the edge of a rocky cliff? Why would a deeply religious god worshipper all of a sudden pledge to Satan when things are not going his way? After firing a gun at a maniac pursuing her, why would a woman drop the gun to the floor and not bother picking it up before running away? In the midst of watching this flick, it didn't take me long to come to the realization that the filmmakers were simply throwing in every cliché in the book in order to make somewhat of a horror/comedy hybrid, instead of a straight slasher film. 3 Seattle couples board a private plane en route to Jackson Island, a resort in the pacific northwest intended for rich yuppie types. During the trip, the plane's engine sputters and the pilot is forced to land on another island short of their destination. The island appears to be deserted at first, but upon further exploration, the travelers stumble upon an old cabin in the middle of the woods. The inhabitants of the cabin turn out to be an old, deeply religious couple that go by the name of "Ma" and "Pa". Also inhabiting their house are their three deranged children, all of them who appear to be at least in their forties but who don't act a year older than 10. Ma and Pa appear at first very kind, inviting the travelers for dinner and to stay the night. The travelers soon find out that there is a great price for this hospitality however, as Ma and Pa's "children" turn out to have an insatiable appetite for murder.American Gothic doesn't waste any time getting started, as the travelers land on the island only about ten minutes into the movie. Once the first murder occurs, the pace flies by as some of the travelers get dispatched with ridiculous ease. From then on the movie turns into a revenge flick as the sole survivor turns the table on the murderous inbred family. Most of the murders sadly happen off screen and there is not much in the matter of grue (which is not unusual with 80's slasher fare). Yes, there is a small amount of blood but we only get to see it after the murder, once the victim is lying dead on the ground. One of the most obvious flaws in the movie is that we're never sure when Cynthia, one of the travelers recently released from a psych ward, is sane or not. Most scenes with her in it left me wondering whether she had become totally insane and joined the ranks of Ma and Pa's family or if she was simply playing along so she could escape. It would be nice to know but instead the viewer is left guessing. I found American Gothic effectively chilling but not for the obvious reasons. There are no jumps or surprises or traditional horror movie scares. The spookiest part is watching so many characters fall into utter depths of insanity. The idea of parents raising their children on a deserted island their entire lives and never letting them leave in fear that they may be "contaminated by the outside world", all in the name of religious blasphemy, is something I found to be quite chilling. The acting was also surprisingly effective, especially the over-the-top performance of "Pa", played by Rod Steiger and by Fannie of the 3 "children". I don't imagine it's easy playing a 40-something with the mentality of a murderous 10 year old and trying to keep a straight face through it all. American Gothic is a decent film for those looking for a stylistic 80's slasher with great scenery and a barrel of laughs both intentional and unintentional."
Ma & Pa Kettle Meet Norman Bates
Michael R Gates | Nampa, ID United States | 09/27/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This dark satire of the Religious Right in rural America demonstrates how dogmatism can erase the thin line that separates sanity from insanity.
Recovering from an emotional breakdown brought on by the bathtub drowning of her child, Cynthia (Sarah Torgov) goes on a camping trip with her husband and two other couples. Mechanical problems strand the campers on island near Seattle, where the troupe eventually runs up against Ma & Pa (Yvonne De Carlo & Rod Steiger), the demented backwoodsy parents of three murderous but mentally infantile adults.
There are some Gein-like goodies, including implied necrophelia, as the homicidal hillbillies pick off the campers one by one, but the film really focuses more on Cynthia's descent into madness in the face of it all. Lots of subtle humor, not the least of which is the double-entendres in the names of Ma & Pa's progeny, make AMERICAN GOTHIC a fun way to waste a few hours. And over-the-top performances strengthen the entertainment value, especially those of Steiger, De Carlo, and Michael J. Pollard (who portrays Teddy, one of the psycho sons). Targov is also wonderfully whacko when her character, Cynthia, finally loses all ties with reality.
The DVD from Trinity Home Entertainment offers the film in its original aspect ratio of 1.33:1. The transfer looks a bit grainy at times but is definitely watchable. Alas, the disc contains no bonus features, yet it's still worth the very reasonable price of admission."
Patrick N. Thayer | Lebanon, OH USA | 09/26/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"A group of annoying yuppies charters a plane for a camping getaway, only to find themselves making an emergency landing on an isolated, forest-covered island. They are taken in by the only inhabitants, the rabidly religious "Ma and Pa" (Yvonne De Carlo and Rod Steiger), who seem trapped in a Norman Rockwellian time warp and are invited to stay the night. This proves to be every bit as unpleasant as it seems - especially after the hapless campers are introduced to the psychotic, middle-aged "children" (Michael J. Pollard and Janet Wright) who both appear to be pushing 50. Before long the loopy, scripture-spouting old couple and their even loopier kids take sharp objects in hand and start killing the tourists, but wait ... one of the "victims" (Sarah Torgov) is the looniest one of all and reveals her own homicidal potential when she goes completely berserk.
With a great cast, a reliable formula, and an interesting twist, how could you go wrong? The wacky family all put in great performances and the flick has some nice scares. One fo the best of the 80's slasher films. Definitely worth checking out."
Alot more than I expected!
AFP | 01/06/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Here is a total shocker, I didn't expect this to be a good film but it was. I was not waiting for this movie to finish or looking at the clock, I wanted to know what was going to happen next. Heres the story : Three couples are stranded on an unkown island when their plane breaks down, the island is inhabited by a strange demented family, they take shelter in the families home and what happens after is something they never expected! The characters in this are creepy and very weird! This is a good movie, it's not your every-day horror movie, this is something totally different! Oh, and YES there is blood!"
What a classic, glad i own it
Donnie Pace | fort payne, ala | 11/21/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"this is one of those great and rare movies from the 80'S that you cannot find in any video stores. i know there is some person out there saying " well who wants to rent it" to often to many times we get caught up in our own generation with our own music,movies and all the new things that technology has put out there to even give a movie a chance from a different era. i collect alot of movies and have tried to collect ones i watched when i was growing up such as TOURIST TRAP, CURTAINS., AND THE LITTLE GIRL WHO LIVES DOWN THE LANE. Today there are a lot of movies being remade like The Amityville horror and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre please do yourself a favor and watch these movies that were first made and copied so poorly also give the actors from the original movies a chance such as james brolin,marilyn burns and gunnar hansen as leatherface these are true and serious actors they really had to act, todays stars are usually standing in front of a green screen. i have to admit i do own some of the remakes but there will always only be the originals first. thanks yvonne and steiger you rule."