If you go to the Web site for Lynch Mob, you will find the most astonishing quotes: “Destined to be a cult classic!” “A terrific screenplay!” and “One of the year’s best horror films!” Pretty impressive, huh? Well, there’s a catch. The first is from Tony Darrow (the film’s “name” star), the second comes from co-screenwriter Scott Stamper, and the third is attributed to the director himself. Of course, if you’ve had the misfortune of seeing the trailer, you’ve already encountered an ad campaign that appears to consist of raves from people posting on message boards. To be perfectly honest, I kind of admire such bare-face huckstering. Unfortunately, all this ballyhooey is in the service of a movie that has little admirable about it—except perhaps that it got made.
Lynch Mob is the kind of movie that you might cut some slack if you saw it in a low-rent film festival. In fact, I toyed with viewing the film in that light and conceding that it wasn’t entirely devoid of signs of intelligent life. Director Byron Erwin does evidence a desire to grace the proceedings with some picturesque compositions, which is to say that he doesn’t just point his camera at the largely amateur (or amateurish) cast and let them loose. Alas, his sense of the picturesque isn’t very. And in any case, Lynch Mob isn’t a film-festival entry, but instead something that has managed to secure itself a minor theatrical release. That—and the fact that I had to sit through it—means all bets are off.
What Lynch Mob amounts to is little more than a rip-off of Herschell Gordon Lewis’ 2000 Maniacs (1964). Those who remember that drive-in staple may recall that it’s the story of unsuspecting Yankees lured to a small Southern town where the residents (who come back to life every 100 years like a demented touring company of Brigadoon) proceed to kill the Yanks in various gory ways out of revenge for the town being destroyed in the Civil War. Lynch Mob offers a small Southern town where the inhabitants are cursed to remain exactly as they were—but with a craving for human flesh as their meal of choice—before they burned their own town so Sherman wouldn’t (that’ll show him) and lynched their slaves so Sherman wouldn’t free them.
The curse, by the way, can only be broken when one of the town’s women “takes a Negro man to her bed.” (I am not making this up, but I’ll note that “bed” is figurative rather than literal, since the sink in a gas-station restroom appears to suffice for the conjugal purpose.) To this, the movie adds cheesy gangsters, flesh munching and outbursts of soft-core porn. According to the IMDb, the producers—and “star” John J. Cornetta—are from the porn industry, which suits the tone of the film. That perhaps accounts for the sink sex, a couple other gratuitous sex scenes, and working pedophilia and necrophilia into the plot. Yes, Lynch Mob really is as repellent as it sounds.
Much like 2000 Maniacs, the movie is little more than an excuse for gore effects—none of which are any better than the ones from 1964. The blood is absurdly red and the effects all look like, well, effects. A great deal of the film operates on the premise that the viewer—having been told these folks are eating people—will be grossed out simply by watching the cast eat a meatball. The very suggestible might, but I doubt it. The acting is rudimentary to say the least. The production values are close to nonexistent—and long before it was over, I was wishing the whole damned movie was nonexistent. My suggestion is that you pretend it is. Rated R for pervasive strong bloody horror violence and gore, sexuality, nudity and language.