Just so you’ll know what sort of mad man you’re dealing with, let me explain that I spent quite some time trying to find a copy of this movie. I have longed to see Rooster: Spurs of Death for quite some time. Finally, after months of fruitless searching, a friend came through with a pirated copy. Now, so that you don’t think I’m completely insane, let me explain my reasons for wanting to see this film.
Rooster was filmed in my neck of the woods, south-east
Kansas (I was being literal when I said woods). That fact alone makes it
worth my time.
Rooster has been described as “the touching story of the
bond that forms between father and son, over the sport of cock
fighting”. I’m not kidding here. This is really what the film makers had
in mind. Where I live, cock fighting is an unfortunate reality. It’s
been illegal for years, but it still goes on. I can drive up the highway
from my house, and see the fighting roosters chained to their barrel
houses. Everybody knows what these birds are being raised for. Nobody
does anything about it.
The film opens with a bit of narration telling us about the “long and
proud history of cock fighting”. Then we meet Stoke (Gene Bicknell).
Stoke is an old “cocker”, about to head out to a big cock fighting
derby. His son, Wyatt (Vince Van Patten, who you may have seen in Rock N Roll High school, as well as other real movies) is going with him. Wyatt is going to be involved for the first time.
The film turns into a road movie for a bit, being made up largely of
protracted shots of a pick up truck cruising down dirt roads, inter cut
with Stoke telling Wyatt outrageous stories of his youth. We are given a
sub plot about Stoke’s wife, who may be having an affair with a big
city “cocker” named Clure. We are also given a subplot about Chicken, a
midget in love with Kink’s daughter. Kink (Jeff Corey, another real
actor who has appeared in a variety of films including Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid)
is the man in charge of the cock fighting. He spews forth ridiculous
dialogue, mostly meant to justify the brutality that makes his living.
Then we arrive. Well, first there’s an interlude at a house of
ill-repute (I), then we arrive. Much deception and cheating lead to
Stoke attempting to rob everyone at the cock fight and (watch out now,
I’m going to give away the store here, so if you don’t want to know how
it ends, stop reading here) then Stoke ends up dead. Shot by Chicken.
Wyatt wants to finish the robbery, Clure tries to stop him. I lose track
of how it came out. I can’t decide if the ending was supposed to have a
point or not.
The film uses real footage of cock fighting (they must have filmed
those scenes in Oklahoma, where it’s still legal). These sequences are a
bit rough to watch. Cock fighting is a barbaric, cruel, and inane
pastime. In a real cock fighting arena you would not see the sort of
attractive, well heeled men the film portrays. Real cockers tend to be
toothless, ignorant, inbred, middle aged men who are sexually excited by
cruelty. A large number of them are likely to have spent some time in
prison for violent crimes. Often sexually sadistic acts. This only makes
sense. Sadism, is sadism. Anyone who enjoys torturing animals will
eventually get around to torturing people.
This movie is filled with scenery chewing. The overacting is nearly
as difficult to watch as the cock fighting. Between the actors there is
enough false melodrama to fill the grand canyon. The direction is bland.
This film was shot largely like a cheap made for TV movie. It has no
style, and no substance.
The script is preposterous. I’ve heard better dialogue in porn.
The film also suffers from incredible padding. It runs ninety-two
minutes. Minus the long shots of the same truck going down the same
dirst road, and the endless sequences of a plane landing, taxiing,
taking off, landing again, this movie would run about sixty-eight
minutes. This film is padded like a Jr High school girl’s bra.
So, even if we ignore the ethical problems this film suffers from
(and those problems are legion), it is simply bad. This is one of the
worst movies I have ever seen. And I saw Cut Throat Island! So
I’ve seen really bad movies. The film does contain some unintentional
humor. It is ripe for MST3K style lampooning. However, even that could
not make it an enjoyable experience.
I cannot recommend this film to anyone. It should be avoided at all
cost. But then, you weren’t likely to see it in the first place.