Bullies (1986)

Genres - Action  |   Sub-Genres - Action Thriller, Psychological Drama  |   Release Date - Aug 29, 1986 (USA)  |   Run Time - 96 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Bullies is undeniably a b-movie: it plays to the viewer's primal emotions, borrows heavily from Straw Dogs and offers up a fair bit of violent carnage. That said, Bullies also happens to be a surprisingly well-made b-movie. The script actually plays up drama over violence and does a good job dimensionalizing its heroes so the audience actually feels something when the brutality kicks in. Director Paul Lynch brings a surprisingly artful flair to the visuals and editing and gets effective performances from the cast: Jonathan Crombie makes an appealing hero by turning in a down-to-earth performance and his conflicted relationship with parents Stephen Hunter and Janet-Laine Green is believable without lapsing into melodrama. The villains have less to work with in terms of characterization but they all do a good job selling the nastiness of their archetypes, with the best work coming from William Nunn as the quietly menacing patriarch of the clan. However, the best performance comes from Dehl Berti as the Indian who develops a paternalistic relationship with Crombie: his subtle yet charismatic turn brings gravitas to what could have been a stock characterization. In short, Bullies is the kind of b-movie programmer that deserves rediscovery by cult movie fans and is worth the time for anyone who enjoys a good potboiler.