Movie: If Footmen Tire You, What Will Horses Do? (1971)

Having survived the first half, the “sleaze” half, of Indicator’s Ormond family box set, we now progress to the faith-based films family patriarch Ron would focus on exclusively for the rest of his life.  For a while after that, his son Tim would take the reins for a few more such features.

This abrupt change in the nature of their work was the result of Ron, and his wife June, surviving two plane crashes.  I gotta admit—I can understand why their takeaway from that experience was to serve a higher power.  And yet these religious pictures are as insane as their grindhouse fare.  It takes some disturbed minds to come up with some of this material.

None of these films were ever shown in a real movie theatre, as prints were only available for rental to churches.  I was raised in a Southern Baptist church where what was taught is largely in line with the propaganda in these films.  Yet, curiously, I had never seen any of these before buying this box set.

One thing I remember from my church days was how much my teachers hated Communism.  Strangely enough, they also hated vegetarians.  To the best I can recall, the rationale for that was people who don’t eat animals are disobeying God giving man dominion over them.  Anywho, one concept repeatedly shoved down out throats was: Vegetarianism leads to Atheism, leading to Communism.  Hmmm…come to think of it, I am a vegetarian and an atheist, but I still find much to like in Capitalism.  Guess two out of three ain’t bad.

But nobody hates Communists more than preacher Estus Pirkle.  He claims (alongside imagery of such scenarios) an impending invasion will happen “within the next 24 months”.  How does that work, Estus?  Does the clock reset with each new viewer of the movie, or weren’t you concerned about what people watching more than two years later might think?  Obviously, he’s not Nostradamus.

But his visions are about as crazy as that seer’s.  Estus foresees Communists riding on horseback, enslaving people and killing anybody who claims to be a Christian.  I’m not sure why the Russkies are on horseback.  I like to think they crossed the ocean from Cuba while mounted on steeds that were swimming with snorkels in their mouths.

Anywho, the children will be forced to work 16-18 hour days on collective farms and still have to go to school.  I guess they sleep during school.  And that’s not when soldiers are puncturing kid’s eardrums with bamboo sticks, as we see in one scene. 

Like a punchline to a gag, we see the child afterwards and it is made to look as if the soldier shoved one piece of bamboo into one ear and through the kid’s head and out the other ear.  I guess that’ll learn ‘em.  I was reminded of the New Yorker cartoon where a fencer has decapitated their opponent while crying, “En garde!” 

I think it says something about the creative minds behind this film that they would come up with something like this.  It doesn’t seem to me to be any different than their last sleaze picture, The Exotic One, where a guy is beaten to death with his own severed arm.

There’s another bit that wouldn’t be out of place in a Hershel Gordon Lewis film, where a father is executed in a way that makes his own sons responsible for his death.  This guy is suspended over upturned pitchforks by a rope hanging over a high tree branch.  At the other end of that rope are the young boys struggling to keep dad from getting skewered. Basically, it’s a game of tug-of-war with higher stakes than usual.

If Footmen Tire You will be a shock for anybody who did not grow up in the kind of environment I did.  It is the product of sick minds and makes as little sense as its title.  And yet this film feels eerily reminiscent of those on the sleaze half of the set.  This reinforces what I have long suspected: sin and religion are opposite sides of the same coin, and it is a very thin coin.

Dir: Ron Orman

Starring Estus Pirkle and the many unfortunate people who are his congregants

Watched as part of the Powerhouse/Indicator blu-ray box set From Hollywood to Heaven: The Lost and Saved Films of the Ormond Family