Southern Comfort (1981)–A Great, Forgotten Film
The last time I watched 1981’s Southern Comfort I was 11 and I loved it. Now, there are a lot of things that I loved when I was 11 that I’m not into now – luckily this in one thing that has held up over the years.
Southern Comfort tells the story of a group of Army reservists in the Louisiana National Guard on weekend exercises in the Bayou’s swamps when they run into trouble with some Cajun’s living in said swamps. The trouble all starts when they decided to steal some canoes they find at a cabin in order to cross the water in order to get to their rendezvous. While making the crossings, they notice on the shore a group of people, most likely the owners of the canoes they are travelling in. One of their members, Private Stuckey (played by Lewis Smith) decides to fire off his M60 full of blanks to scare the Cajuns, as a joke. The Cajuns fire back, striking the squad leader, Staff Sgt. Poole (played by Peter Coyote), killing him instantly. In in immediate confusion, one of the canoes is tipped over and the map gets lost. The squad’s second in command, Sgt. Casper (played by Les Lannom) takes the leadership role and attempts to lead the group out of the swamp, hoping to find the interstate highway. Sgt. Casper, despite his best attempts is not a natural leader, and manages to get the squad lost, while they are being hunted by the Cajun’s that killed Poole. The group happen upon a trapper’s cabin and take the occupant hostage, believing him to be with the group that killed Poole and is pursuing them. In the trapper’s cabin, they find a store house of guns, ammo and dynamite – all things they can use in their attempt to get out of the swamp… Unfortunately a particularly gung-ho member of the squad, Bowden (played by Alan Autry) destroys the cabin and it’s contents, leaving them without the weapons. The group takes the Cajun prisoner and continue on their trek. Along the way certain members of the group grow more belligerent and aggressive, becoming more and more uncontrollable. Throughout the whole time, two soldiers Spencer and Hardin (played by Keith Caradine and Powers Boothe) manage to keep their heads and wits about themselves, and eventually decide to fend for themselves after Casper proves to be useless and more and more of the group end up dead.
This is a powerful film with good performances from all the actors. It also shows an interesting slice of the Cajun culture. A gritty, great film, I definitely suggest this one as a much watch.
Check out the trailer below: