Firmly rooted in the aesthetic of Southern Gothic/hicksploitation genre films of the 70s, Richard Compton directed this reportedly fact based tale of a revenge bent small town sheriff. Not as well known as the major titles in its genre – Deliverance, Walking Tall – Macon County Line nevertheless now sees a deluxe treatment from Shout Factory, who are no stranger to the genre, having released great discs of the aforementioned Walking Tall and its sequels as well as Walter Hill’s ultimate southern fried exploiter Southern Comfort.
Oozing dread and 70s nihilism, Macon County Line quickly sheds its more lighthearted good ol’ boy vibe ala Smokey and the Bandit in favor of a much more cynical and brutal genre entry that feels like Electra Glide In Blue by way of Sam Peckinpah. And that’s almost a compliment. Though Compton’s film gets the locale right and his film is suitably nasty, it never feels as sincere as the other films mentioned above. He manages to make every cent of his ultra low budget count, but somewhere along the line, the workman like structure keeps the film from really saying something. And maybe that’s not the point with a picture like this, but when you’re working from a true story and rooted in a genre that’s full of titles that pull their weight – less isn’t always more. That said, Macon County Line is far from bad and Max Baer Jr. as the jingoistic sheriff is committed and terrifying. I just want…more.
Macon County Line has never been a particularly pretty movie but this new Blu-ray from Shout Factory changes that as best it can. A surprisingly clean transfer, void of much noticeable damage, with strong colors and crisp blacks throughout. I can’t imagine this looking any better. Audio is DTS-HD MA 1.0 which faithfully recreates its theatrical audio and the track is solid, no issues to note but you may find yourself turning it up quite a bit, especially for the dialogue.
Extras start with the previously available commentary from the Anchor Bay DVD featuring director Richard Compton (who has since passed) moderated by Bill Lustig. Listening to the two of them go back and forth is great fun (arguably more than the movie itself) and there’s never a dull moment. It’s a great track if you’ve never listened to it before. Next is an interview with editor Tina Hirsch, which covers her career at large as well as her work on Macon County Line. We then get another extra ported over from the Anchor Bay disc in the short Macon County Line: 25 Years Down the Road, which is a look back at the production. It’s much too short to offer anything substantial but it’s a fun, brief watch and it’s nice to have it included for completion’s sake. Finally, there’s a trailer, radio spot and stills to round out the package.
Macon County Line isn’t for everyone. It’s a mean, cynical film from an era when that was celebrated. And it’s also not one of the better films of that kind. But it does have its fans and this disc is good enough that it could earn it some new ones. A very solid release from Shout Factory. Recommended.