ROOSTER: SPURS OF DEATH – This cosmically bad and tasteless movie was completed in 1977 but not released until 1983, presumably because there’s never been much demand for films from the ugly subgenre of cockfighting flicks. (Cocksploitation?)
Previously, Balladeer’s Blog reviewed the horrific movie Cockfighter, in which star Warren Oates portrayed a man who trains roosters for cockfights and at one point takes a vow of silence until one of his roosters wins a fight. (Hey, it’s not exactly the Dothraki custom of cutting a man’s hair if he loses a fight, but what can you do?)
Some of my remarks regarding Cockfighter can also be applied to Rooster: Spurs of Death, a Quinn Martin Production. Okay, I’m kidding about the Quinn Martin part, but anyway, R:SOD makes you understand exactly why the cruel activity of cockfighting became so despised.
If, like me, you often endure the ugliness of Italian cannibal movies and Category 3 horror films from Hong Kong, you should be able to suffer through the wince-inducing Rooster: Spurs of Death. Same as Cockfighter, this movie often seems like a very dark-humored parody of standard sports movie cliches.
Where Rooster: Spurs of Death distinguishes itself is with the additional element of so many scenes playing like dark-humored spoofs of Tennessee Williams plays. Ruta Lee plays her “long-suffering female” role like she at least THINKS she’s in a Williams production.
The other cast members, including Vincent Van Patten, either ham it up to the point where soap opera acting seems underplayed by comparison or they take the material much more seriously than conversations about cockfighting could ever possibly be taken. Almost every scene made me laugh like I was watching SCTV’s soap opera satire The Days of the Week.
WARNING: Don’t play the “slow-motion scenes of cockfighting” drinking game when watching this or you’ll quite possibly die from alcohol poisoning.
The “spurs” part of the title comes from the sharp spurs that the roosters wear when slashing each other up for the entertainment and enrichment of sadistic yahoos. The painfully serious approach of some performers makes you want to scream at them “You’re in a damn COCKFIGHTING movie! Stop trying to act like this is Rocky!”
The most absurd of this production’s attempts to make cockfighting seem badass and dramatic comes with this line from a song on the soundtrack – “Here we come from far away, bringing with us the death on wings!” But, hell, even as silly as that sounds, Death on Wings might have made a better title for this flick than the one it got stuck with.
Rooster: Spurs of Death also features unwholesomely bizarre scenes with a midget named Chicken (Tommy Madden), including bits with him getting teased & denied by a southern-fried tart, plus one feverish segment dealing with the circumstances of the midget’s birth. All of which adds a certain David Lynch feel to the proceedings.
At any rate, there are only so many times even I can laugh at men straight-facedly referring to themselves as “cockers”, so boredom eventually set in. Jeff Corey and Ty Hardin show up, and their performances certainly make you say “Hey, that’s Jeff Corey and Ty Hardin.” And I mean every word of that.
Rooster: Spurs of Death is listed as having been filmed in Pittsburg, Kansas but I understand from Pittsburg State Gorillas fans that it was actually lensed elsewhere. I was shocked, I tell you, SHOCKED to find such a lack of integrity from a movie about cockfighting!
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12 responses to “ROOSTER: SPURS OF DEATH (1977 & 1983)”
This sounds dire but I appreciate that you have given it a review of quality that it likely does not deserve! I shall give it a pass. Talking of bad movies – did you ever see Street Trash in the late 80s when melt movies were “fashionable”?
Thank you! And no, I have never seen Street Trash, but I gather it’s pretty bad based on what you said.
Haha, if you find it, it is worth a watch so that you can save it for a review when you feel particularly acerbic!! 😉
Thanks for the recommendation! I will do that!
Oh my god no. Vincent Van Patten was EVERYWHERE back then. And I can’t believe my 1960 dream girl Ruta Lee was is such a …. bomb.
“As much a slapped-together oddity as this is, Miss Ruta Lee glides through the proceedings with far more professionalism than the material deserves, registering the film slightly above the “schlock” mark on the quality meter. Still…this is one that few will be able to easily sit through, and most bad movie fanatics will find their patience tested.” – IMDB
I know what you mean about Vince! And his brother Tim went on to direct several episodes of Game of Thrones, including the first one, Winter is Coming. Ruta Lee never got her real due as a sexy lady!
I would’ve sworn that was William Zabka, if the movie had come out a few years later …
Hey, good call!
Not a “review” fan at all, and normally don’t waste time even skimming. But considering the subject matter, I knew you’d be off on a tear and I was not disappointed. You had a full tank of humor when you started this one.
Thank you very much, sir! I’m glad you got a kick out of the review!