books. In 1957 Proctor and Gamble bought the whole shebang.rnWhen he died, “Recommended by Duncan Hines”rnsigns (leased from his company) adorned 10,000 businesses.rnDon’t worry: we’ll include the South’s great writers and musicians,rnits notorious politicians and gallant soldiers, the famousrncivil rights leaders and Sunbelt tycoons. But these folks will bernin there, too. And anyway it’s a thousand-and-one things, notrnthe thousand-and-one. Make your own list if you don’t likernours.rnAnother set of “things” we’re going to include is a list ofrngreat movies about the South—or, more precisely, moviesrnabout the South that are cinematic achievements, cultural phenomena,rnand/or good entertainment. Few, if any, have been allrnthree, but we have to say something about Birth of a Nationrn(1915) and Gone with the Wind (1939). While we’re at it, PaulrnMuni in I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang (1932) establishedrnthe Southern prison brutality movie as a genre, Jean Renoir’srnThe Southerner (1945) is highly regarded by cineastes, and WaltrnDisney’s Song of the South (1946) made us all whistle “Zip arnDee Doo Dah.” Broderick Crawford and Gregory Peck wonrnOscars for All the King’s Men (1949) and To Kill a Mockingbirdrn(1962), respectively. Gat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958) gave us thernmemorable image of Bud Ives as Big Daddy. And so forth.rnWe’re having fun trying to guess which of the recent bigbudgetrn”Southerns” will stand the test of time. {Driving MissrnDaisy maybe; Fried Green Tomatoes and Steel Magnolias, nornway.) And we’re also compiling a list of underappreciatedrnSouthern films that I may share with you all some other time.rnBut the most fun has turned out to be picking a selection ofrnreally bad movies about the South, movies so awful that theyrndeserve to be immortalized for that. We’re not talking herernabout flicks that are just banal and pointless, like many of thernlater works of Elvis. No, we mean movies that are activelyrnoffensive, movies that make you say “I can’t believe I’m seeingrnthis!” The South has inspired a great many such films. Andrnthey are bad in so many different ways: some are pretentious,rnsome blatantly exploitative, some silly to the point of imbecility,rnsome—well, you’ll see. Harry Medved steered us to a few ofrnthese with his book The Fifty Worst Films of All Time, but somernof them we found for ourselves, alas.rnHere are our nominees for the worst movies yet about thernSouth. Check ’em out. I think you’ll agree that they belong onrnthe short list for the worst about any subject. We’ll do thisrnDavid Letterman-style:rn10. Swamp Women (1955) deserves a place on the list, if onlyrnfor its title. The story of four female convicts who escapernfrom prison and go looking for stolen diamonds hidden in therngator-infested swamps, this is a far cry from Paul Muni. DirectorrnRoger Gorman got the first Lifetime Achievement Awardrngiven by Joe Bob Brigs, former drive-in movie critic of the DallasrnTimes-Herald.rn9. Hillbillys in a Haunted House (1967) tells a story aboutrnghosts and espionage that critic Leonard Maltin accurately describesrnas “moronic.” It stars Feriin Husky, Merle Haggard, andrnsome other country singers who should have known better.rnThis was also Basil Rathbone’s last movie, and it may havernkilled him. Las Vegas Hillbillys (1966), to which this is a sequel,rnhad Jayne Mansfield and Mamie Van Doren instead of Rathbone,rnbut it’s not appreciably better.rn8. Cottonpickin’ Chickenpickeis (1968) is about two guysrnwho rob a Florida chicken farm and are chased at lengthrnthrough the swamps by colorful crackers. In his last movie appearance.rnSonny Tufts plays the old swamp drunk. Believe it orrnnot, this is a musical. One of the more memorable songs isrn”Dirty Ole Egg Suckin’ Dog,” later recorded by Johnny Cash atrnFolsom Prison.rn7. The Last Rebel (1971) stars Joe Namath as a former Confederaternsoldier. What else do you need to know?rn6. Gator Bait (1976) is the story of a swamp-vixen namedrnDesiree, who plays rough. The fatal attraction of the low-down,rndown-home temptress is a classic theme, but here it’s taken tornextremes that result in some really gross scenes.rn5. Southern Comfort (1981) shows what happens whenrnsome clean-cut National Guardsmen get crossways with Desiree’srnchinless cousins. Let’s just say it makes Deliverance lookrnlike a day in the park, and speaks eloquently to the need for arnCajun Anti-Defamation League.rn4. Easy Rider (1969) is a period piece, from an unfortunaternperiod, and National Lampoon suggested what the Southernrntake on it should be: two degenerate, dope-peddling, motorcycle-rnriding hippies (Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda) and arndrunken lawyer (Jack Nicholson) threaten the Southern Way ofrnLife, until they are finally dispatched by armed patriots.rn3. Mandingo (1975) is a trashy sado-historical epic based onrnKyle Onstott’s trashy novel, starring James Mason as the evilrnowner of a Louisiana slave-breeding plantation, Susan Georgernas his slutty daughter, Ken North as a hunky black fighter—allrnstereotypes present and accounted for. This movie and its sequelrnDrum (1976) make the slavery episodes of TV’s Roots lookrnlike an artistic and historical tour de force. It’s even worse thanrnSlaves (1969), which gets at least a little credit for good intentions.rn2. Two Thousand Maniacs (1964) looks in loving detail atrnthe gruesome deaths and dismemberment of several Northernrntourists who innocently stumble on the town of Pleasant Valley,rnwhich was wiped out by Union troops but reappears every 100rnyears looking for revenge. This film, by the director of the infamousrnBlood Feast (1963), is the reductio ad absurdum of therngenre (represented by several of our other nominees) based onrnYankee fears of the rural South and the creepy folk who livernthere. Ten years later, in Texas Chainsaw Massacre, the anticsrnof Leatherface and his housemates insured that viewers wouldrnnever see Texas barbecue quite the same way, but that moviernhas some redeeming features, believe it or not. This onerndoesn’t.rnFinally (fanfare, please), our candidate for the single worstrnpicture ever made about the American South:rn1. Hurry Sundown (1967) had an ad campaign that askedrnthe question, “Will the South Overcome the Bigotry of thernHate-Laden White Aristocrats?” Set in the I940’s and basedrnon K.B. Gilden’s best-selling novel. Otto Preminger’s film isrnabout a voracious real estate speculator (Michael Caine, withrnpossibly the worst Southern accent ever recorded) who tries torntake the land of two families, one of simple spiritual-singingrnblack folks, the other common white folks of uncommon nobility.rnA bigoted judge and a lynch mob complete the picture.rnThe kindest word applied to this turkey by the critics was “ludicrous”rn(Judith Crist), and we suspect it was Walker Percy’srnmodel for the ridiculous movie being filmed in Lancelot. Itrnmakes Storm Warning (1951), with Ronald Reagan as an anti-rnKlan D.A., look profound.rnIt was a tough choice.rnAUGUST 1995/27rnrnrn