The Farmer was considered a “lost movie” for a long time. It had a small theatrical release, a couple of screenings on cable, and then… it vanished.
Well, it’s back and now is a good time to rediscover it. The Farmer is a pure B-movie. It is a grindhouse-style action film from the late 70s with a simple story. Kyle Martin is a World War II veteran who comes home to find out the farm he runs with an old friend is being foreclosed on by the bank. One night a mid-level mafia mook crashes his car into Kyle’s fence while drunk. Kyle and his old friend rush out and save him from death by fire as the car burns. They take care of him overnight and he learns about Kyle’s past in the war. He rewards Kyle with money as a thank you for saving him.
We then learn the guy they saved is running a gambling scam on a mob boss’s horse race. Of course, he gets caught and the mafia boss has him blinded by pouring acid in his eyes as punishment. While in the hospital, he recalls Kyle was handy at killing and comes up with a scheme to get revenge on the boss and his crew, paying Kyle enough to save his farm in the process. He hires Kyle to kill them.
That’s pretty much the main thrust of the story. The blind mafia guy’s girlfriend delivers the money to Kyle, acting as the go-between. She falls in love with Kyle, but is raped and almost killed by others in the mafia. This adds the personal motive for Kyle that makes him take the job. Being an exploitation film from the 70s, the rape is pretty graphic.
So in true exploitation style, the farmer takes out the mafia one at a time as it builds to the big action climax. Some of it may seem pretty tame by 70s exploitation standards, but it does hit some heights. Kyle kills the rapist by shooting him in the crotch, then finishes him off with a point-blank pistol shot through the mouth.
This movie was “lost” for so long that much had been made, over time, of how violent it was. This feels mostly like its legend growing in its absence. This movie had been built up a lot, even in my mind, from the reputation it had. I wouldn’t call it a letdown, but it is also not some masterpiece of the genre with violence so graphic that it would make Tarantino say “No more!”
I did like it, though. It suffers a little from the slow, leisurely, at times padded-out pace common to 70s grindhouse films. Low budgets and simple stories require some filler to hit that 90-minute mark. It’s not bad here, it is done in a way to build tension, even if it is drawn out a little too long.
So how did I see this lost classic? Well, the boys over at Scorpion Releasing got their hands on the original negatives and restored it. The restoration is a little wonky in a couple of places, but overall it looks pretty damn good and the sound is great. You can order your very own copy right here.
The caveat here is that I have very low standards for what makes a good exploitation movie, so if you don’t enjoy low-budget violence it may not be for you.