|Hal Holbrook struggles to survive|
"I'm 38 years old. It won't make one bag of bug dung if I ever pick up a scalpel again. I'm an addictive alcoholic whose last serious boyfriend is a borderline psycho teaching fascism in the mountains." -- Martin.
Five doctors -- Harry (Hal Holbrook of Girls Nite Out), Mitzi (Lawrence Dane of Happy Birthday to Me), Martin (Robin Gammell), Abel (Ken James) and D. J. (Gary Reineke) -- go on a camping trip that quickly goes south. First all of their boots are stolen, and D. J. heads by himself for a dam some miles away where he hopes to find help. Instead the group seems to be attacked by an unseen party who causes one disaster after another. Is D. J. responsible, or some other individual who may have a grudge against one of the doctors? Rituals is not a typical stalk and slash film of the period in that there are no teens, masked killers, or bad actors, but rather a talented cast of adults playing reasonably well-defined characters. The movie has a great deal of suspense to go with a fast pace, as well as a effective score (Hagood Hardy) and cinematography (Rene Verzier), and a taut script by Ian Sutherland that features some very trenchant and interesting dialogue. The film has some problems, however, such as a protracted climax, a couple of truly inexplicable scenes, and a motive for the killer that never seems to be satisfactorily explained. But this is still quite watchable for the acting and the harrowing details. An interesting aspect is that one of the doctors is gay, something that's just dropped in quietly in the dialogue.
Verdict: Easily one of the best "maniac-on-the-loose" movies of the seventies. ***.