Rebel Love (1985)

Desert Kid

2nd Lieutenant
Dec 3, 2011
Do I have a little treat for the site today. Just recently I got a copy of a bootleg DVD/VHS rip of a rare indie film and watched it twice over my days off.

Rebel Love, a 1985 romance-drama released by Vestron Video and Troma Entertainment. Now for those who don't know. Troma is a film company since 1974 that is responsible for making many schlock-horror, splatter flicks and a whole roster of campy hick-flicks and B-Movies that one would have typically watched at a small-town drive-in in the 1970s and 1980s. With such distinguished titles like Hot Summer in Barefoot County (1974), Demented Death Farm Massacre (1974), Curse of the Cannibal Confederates (1982), Redneck Zombies! (1989), Class of Nuke'Em High (1986), and their biggest box-office success The Toxic Avenger (1984). So yeah...a bit of a classy bunch. The poster for it is even a cheesy homage to Gone With The Wind.


Rebel Love however, is very intelligently done. Filmed in 1983 in the countryside around Bessemer, Alabama and runs 90 minutes even. A large host of Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia based Confederate reenactor groups play as extras. The soundtrack done entirely by a then-unknown reenactor named Bobby Horton, yes, this movie has the early cut songs of his Homespun Songs of the CSA: Volume 1 album. It is set in Corydon, Indiana during the Confederate Heartland Offensive in Kentucky during October 1862. Terrance Knox (a character actor who often appeared as a robber or FBI agent on The Dukes of Hazzard) plays Hightower, a Confederate spy attached to the Army of the Mississippi under Braxton Bragg being sent into southern Indiana to screen Union troop movements being sent to reinforce Louisville. He takes on the persona of an Irish stove salesman to move about the local populace. Jamie Rose (who was a regular on Falcon Crest) plays Columbine Cromwell, a young and freshly widowed Unionist Indiana farmwife who has been grieving since her abusive late-husband was killed in Virginia in late 1861. On Hightower's second night north of the Ohio River, a violent lightning storm strands him on Cromwell's porch. From there, despite Hightower's fake persona, a torrid little romantic fling happens between them. And they bond over the horrors of the war that has ravaged the country. There's some brief nudity, but not too sexy, you don't see anything. A few days into their little affair, Hightower is getting antsy about having shirked his duty, and it doesn't help that the Union Army is now prowling the farm looking for a suspected spy. This culminates in Columbine becoming privy as to who Hightower truly is, and breaks her trust in him. While he is in hiding a Union sergeant attempts to accost Columbine, which causes him to come out of hiding in the barn and kill 3 Union troops there, to rescue her. Now knowing he can't stay, and despite her pleas for him to stay, he assures her that one day he will return. He also tells her that she is wasting her youth holding on to her grief and loss and that she isn't the only one suffering horribly as a war widow as many North and South are as well.

Hightower rides off towards Louisville, 2 weeks later, Columbine's elderly aunt stops by with a newspaper describing the collapse of the Confederate offensive at Perryville and Bragg's army retreating back to Tennessee. She also reads an article about a Confederate spy playing at being an Irishman being executed in Louisville. Hightower is dead. Columbine decides to leave her isolated farm forever and move to Corydon to restart her life.

All and all, a solid 3 out of 5 star movie. Definitely not blockbuster, but does seem akin a bit of a low-rent 1980s production that would compliment rather nicely with North and South and The Blue and the Gray.