Movie Name: Rituals
Studio: Astral Bellvue Pathe
Release Date(s): July 21, 1977 (Canada)/July 1978 (US)
MPAA Rating: R
Five doctors head into the Canadian wilderness for a weekend retreat but meet horror. When their shoes disappear from their campsite, the group at first thinks it is a prank…but the prank suddenly turns deadly. Now, the men realize they are being hunted and escaping the woods might be impossible.
Directed by Peter Carter, Rituals has gone by multiple names and is often known as The Creeper. The film received relatively positive reviews but had a poor box office showing (though it has developed a cult following over the years). The movie is in the public domain and can often be found in box sets.
Rituals is a direct descendant of Deliverance…but the actual horror version of it. While Deliverance is one of the most horrifying dramas of all time, Rituals is a horror movie with some dramatic elements…but mostly it is “don’t go in the woods” horror.
The plot for the movie is kind of interesting in that it starts out as a movie where the characters all think that the killer is seeking revenge on them for something they did as doctors. As the movie progresses however and the attacks get more deadly, it becomes obvious that the killer is just deranged and hates doctors.
Hal Holbrook is the “star” of the movie (and allegedly was paid a lot more). The rest of the cast is rather generic. It is interesting to note that Robin Gammell plays a gay character. He talks about not having a boyfriend and it is rather non-judgmental for a movie from this period.
The movie does look pretty good, but years of low budget versions of the movie means it is hard to find a nice clean copy. The setting of the movie was shot in Batchawana Bay, Ontario, and the landscape looks great…I just wish that the budget versions you get of the film in multi-movie packs showed it off.
Rituals is a gritty movie that probably should have done better. It could have had a bigger budget, it could have pushed it farther, and it could have been more actor driven, but on some levels the movie works. I could see this film being remade with a bigger budget and more hardcore, and I don’t know that it would be a bad thing. Survival films are popular now and this feels like an untapped “classic”.