The Terror Experiment (2010)

MARCH 31, 2012


There are a handful of movies that I can’t conceive of someone disliking. Not my favorites, per se (I know perfectly well how/why people can and DO hate my 3 favorite movies), but movies that are just too damn good and culturally important to dismiss. One of them is Die Hard, and thus I’m actually kind of surprised that The Terror Experiment is one of very few horror films that combine the “Die Hard scenario” with a genre tradition, in this case zombies. Seems like a pretty obvious thing to do, but fear not – it’s not too late to do it right, because this movie’s a waste of time that will be forgotten by the time it actually hits disc on Tuesday.

At least it starts off well enough. A dirty bomb has been set off inside a Federal Building in Louisiana, turning everyone from a certain floor down into rampaging zombies (or, fine, “infected” – p.s. fuck you, they’re zombies), while the folks on the floors above the gas are OK but obviously can’t just head downstairs and get outside to safety. We’re given the usual ragtag group of random folks who don’t all get along, led by our most recognizable actor (Jason London), and the movie more or less follows their attempts to escape while being besieged by zombies at every turn.

That stuff covers about half of the movie or so, anyway. There’s also a hefty outside element, as the FBI, a group of firemen, a scientist, etc all gather outside and argue about jurisdiction and whether they should attempt rescue or blow the building to smithereens to ensure that the virus is contained. All of this stuff is wholly generic, but since the interior segments aren’t much better thanks to poorly shot (and overly CGI’d) action and far too much repetition, it’s not exactly doing any harm. It’d be like complaining that your broken down car also had an ugly paint job. Plus, with the exception of London, all of the actors you’d recognize (Judd Nelson, C Thomas Howell, Lochlyn Munro, Robert Carradine) are part of this outside team, so if anything these scenes offer slightly better acting and the semblance of a real movie.

On the other hand, these bits don’t have as much cribbing from Die Hard, something that gets pretty comical inside. The locked down building and personal agenda (London is trying to rescue his ex-wife! Bonus: their daughter as well) were more than enough to give me that Nakatomi vibe (as did the opening scenes showing how the terrorist was able to access the building and initiate phase one of his plan), but they go overboard with it. By the time London has tied a fire house around his waist and dove to safety, you’ll be wondering if you shouldn’t just be watching Sudden Death instead, since that one ripped off Die Hard just as much but at least offered some decent action sequences and a fun villain. Plus Van Damme fights a penguin at one point.

Sadly, that’s the most entertainment the movie offers. When it’s NOT stealing directly from a classic film, it’s just dull as dirt. The action scenes are all indifferent, including the climax in which some random guys in body armor take out a couple of zombies and London more or less waltzes out the door with barely a scratch on him. There’s also a ridiculously implemented “countdown” in which the building will self-destruct, which would be fine if there was any sense of urgency to it. But no, they have like six hours or something, and every time they check in with the count there’s still plenty of time, rendering it a wholly useless diversion that adds not one iota of suspense to the proceedings. You know, they love Die Hard so much – did they not check out part 2, where McClane had two hours to stop the terrorists before his wife’s plane ran out of fuel? Now THAT’S a countdown! Six hours, fuck – McClane would have went back and schmoozed with that hot customer service girl for a bit to kill some time.

But that’s just another example of the movie’s abundance of padding, which literally starts as soon as the film does as it opens with zombies attacking folks at random while others flee in several directions – general chaos, in other words. So you’re thinking, OK this is the end and the movie will depict how it got that bad, right? Nope – we see all of this stuff again, no lie, 15 minutes later. It pays off in no way at all, and we don’t learn anything but the obvious (“there was a zombie outbreak”) once the scene has context. Also, they cut repeatedly to a cop driving to the building, which would be fine if he was going to be a major character or if his police radio was providing us with new information, but no, it’s just a bunch of random shots of an equally random character, adding nothing to the film but 2-3 minutes of screentime to make its 82 minute length (which includes duplicate full credit sequences).

Thankfully, Anchor Bay has spared us any visual extras – not even the trailer is present here (though it has a few for other releases). The sole supplement related to the film is a commentary by executive producer/director George Mendeluk, who falls silent for the first time (of many) in the film’s first 30 seconds. I’m sorry, if you can’t talk for a few minutes straight at the very beginning of a commentary track for your own film, then maybe you shouldn’t be doing one. Then again, based on the rest of the track, maybe Mendeluk shouldn’t be directing films at all, as he has almost nothing to say about the actual process of making the film, merely offering things like “This is a CGI shot of this vent” or “We shot in two locations”. He’s also fond of pointing out the other, usually better movies that his actors were in before they slummed it here. “You might recognize her from National Treasure”, he tells us about the lovely Alicia Leigh Willis. But I didn’t recognize her, because she was actually in the 2nd film, where she played “Lady Customer”. One might wonder why he didn’t point out her more substantial roles, but he continually opts to point out their most high profile films, because he mistakenly assumes this will impress whoever is stupid enough to listen to him. He also claims C Thomas Howell played *the* boy in ET (no, he played *a* boy; Henry Thomas played THE boy, you twit) and boasts about another actor’s role in the Twilight films. Again, the role he mentions is insignificant (“Frat Boy”), but hilariously – the actor in question is his own son! You’d think he’d lead with that. Long story short – he comes off like one of those schmucks that think of filmmaking solely as a business investment, with zero affinity for anything on the screen; the most animated he gets during the entire track is when he (erroneously) explains Campbell’s hero’s journey, even adding that Campbell lived on Skywalker Ranch (he did not). If Campbell were alive today, he’d probably get about 10 minutes into this movie before deciding being dead was preferable.

What say you?


Live Evil (2009)

MARCH 30, 2012


Well, if you’re going to crib a bit from Near Dark, I guess it’s OK if you have one of the movie’s stars along for the ride, right? Tim Thomerson plays the hero in Live Evil, an upgrade from his supporting turn in that classic, but that won’t be the only time you’re reminded of it. It’s also (partially) set in the southwest, giving the film a Western vibe (Carpenter’s Vampires may also come to mind), and our primary group of villainous vampires are a similarly punk-ish group of immortals that are kind of a family unit who are also prone to bickering. There’s even a big car chase – not the sort of thing you usually see in a vampire movie.

But it’s got enough of its own ideas to give the familiarity a pass. The coolest idea is that the vampires are dying off because human blood is too polluted thanks to our lifestyles; the film opens with a typical massacre as a crazed vamp chick devours everyone in a diner, only to puke it all up because their blood is too tainted to digest. They then set off to find a blood dealer (Ken Foree) who has pure plasma. Thomerson is on their trail, aided by a girl he saves from an attack, which allows for the veteran actor to have some fun and have a few scattered fights throughout the movie as he closes in on the main group.

The pacing is a definite asset – there’s a lot going on and plenty of action to enjoy, and it’s all done practically (sigh of relief); beheadings are common and there’s even a vampire baby (“They’re the worst,” explains Thomerson), plus some bonus nudity and lots and lots of fake blood being tossed around. And Foree’s role may be too brief compared to Thomerson (they’re given equal billing on the poster), but he’s having a grand old time and makes the most of his 10 minutes or so. In fact most of the actors seem to be enjoying themselves; Thomerson’s female partner was the only weak link, saddled with some of the movie’s dumbest dialogue and an inane twist near the end.

Unfortunately, the movie has a pretty major flaw – it resembles a 12 dollar student production from start to finish. The locations are clearly just the homes of producers and such (never knew vampires had such great DVD collections!), they drive boring everyday cars (the vamps roll in a Chevy Cavalier!), etc. The movie was shot over a six month period (mostly on weekends, from what I understand), and it definitely shows – there’s a disjointed feel to the movie throughout, and a lot of “Fake Shemping” that is pretty obvious. Lot of film school level mistakes too – you can hear the camera whirring more often than not.

And yes, whirring – that means film! Super 16 to be exact, which was a wonderful surprise. Unfortunately it looks like shit on this piss-poor DVD transfer, which is non-anamorphic and as lo-res as they come. The image often resembled a quickly compressed output from an Avid that was made before the film was actually finished, which is a shame as it will likely be mistaken for consumer grade video by some viewers – you can only really tell/appreciate that it’s film on still exterior shots during the day, which are unsurprisingly not too common. Hopefully they will go back and output the movie properly for a re-release someday; it’s bad enough there are so few movies being shot on film nowadays – it’s PAINFUL to see one of them get such a shoddy presentation.

The DVD is pretty jam-packed, which probably didn’t help the disc's “bit budget” much either. There’s footage from the film’s presence at a Fangoria convention in 2009 (I was at that one!), a handful of deleted scenes, some behind the scenes on the stunt scenes, a short film (and an intro to said short film), and the trailer, all totaling around 40 minutes or so. None of it is particularly essential, though the short is a surprisingly solid dramatic piece about Vietnam, and the deleted scenes are worth a look with director Jay Woelfel’s commentary, as he has plenty to say about their creation as well as the reasons for their removal (as opposed to some directors who only offer the latter). Woelfel is joined on the feature commentary (buried in the setup menu) by two of the actors, and it’s a pretty lively track as they go into great detail about various production problems (all of that obvious doubling is explained, not always flatteringly), point out a few continuity issues, how they pulled off some of the stunts and FX, etc. They come off a bit crass at times (discussing “titties” at one point), but it never goes silent, and anyone hoping to pull off an ambitious horror feature of their own with limited funds might learn a thing or two.

With so many movies out there that have not a single original idea in their head, it’s always nice to see one that brings something fresh to the table. It’s a shame that the movie often resembles something that I’d find on the Decrepit Crypt budget pack – with some actual money behind it this could have been a really kickass little movie. Instead it’s just something that may require an overdose of total shit to appreciate what it does offer; those who rarely dip into the indie/DTV horror landscape will likely just write it off as a waste of time. A shame really; everyone should appreciate Thomerson kicking a little ass regardless of the production value. Definitely worth a look for indie/vamp enthusiasts, but the crudeness may be a bit hard to ignore.

What say you?


Lemora: A Child's Tale Of The Supernatural (1973)

MARCH 29, 2012


I was recently hired to edit a documentary called The 50 Best Horror Movies You’ve Never Seen, the title of which is a damn lie because I had seen almost all of them. Of the few I hadn’t, Lemora: A Child’s Tale Of The Supernatural was most intriguing because it was the only one I had never even HEARD of before, which was a nice way to put me in the shoes of the audience members who might feel the same about the majority of the list. And I guess the movie works: the sound bites from its fans inspired me to see the movie. Hopefully I’ll finish editing it someday so the rest of you can join the fun.

Anyway, it’s a weird but mesmerizing movie, blending fairy tale plotting, vampires, and sexual desire into one tale of a young girl seeking her mobster father during the prohibition era. Her journey takes her to a strange town overrun by enemies and allies alike, and the bulk of it takes place there, with minimal visits to the outside world. Our young lass follows the standard pattern for these “main character enters a strange scary world” movies – she’s terrified, then starts to enjoy her predicament, and then sees something that scares her and makes her decide to flee.

But that familiar plotting only magnifies the film’s eccentric charms, as it’s otherwise like nothing else I’ve seen. At times it seems to be operating under nightmare logic (particularly the bits with the creepy children), and the fairy tale allusions are a wonderful touch – lots of "Hansel & Gretel" and "Little Red Riding Hood" here. And, I guess, "Alice In Wonderland", because of the icky way everyone leers at Lila. Lemora, the priest, the bus driver, even a random drunk outside of a bar all look at her a bit too long (or just come right out and make their intentions clear), so Lewis Carroll certainly would have felt at home. I should note that it’s a PG movie, however, and thus apart from a brief moment at the end with the priest (in which she advances on him), there’s nothing even remotely explicit about it – it’s all underplayed.

I also liked that it gives viewers a variety of scary “monsters” to enjoy. Lila’s encounter with an old crone is one of the most unnerving scenes I’ve seen in a while, as she just circles the poor girl while singing “Skin and Bones” and cackling. Then there are some creepy children, who appear to be vampires or some sort of undead given their pale/greenish skin and terrifying faces. The locals are all covered in monster makeup of various design (some are sort of Wolfman-ish), and then there’s Lemora herself, a vampiress who has an eerie gaze that unsettled me every single time she was on camera.

It also only feels like half of its 85 minute length. I was actually kind of shocked when I discovered that there was only another 20 or so minutes to go when I checked, because I thought I was barely over the half hour mark. There’s little in the way of setup – the first 15 seconds of the movie sees a couple of folks gunned down by a mobster, and Lila is on her way in the first five or so. That’s the nice thing about movies that are actually different – it’s harder to tell where you are in the runtime just by what’s going on. If I’m watching the umpteenth Texas Chainsaw Massacre wannabe, I know that we’re 40 minutes in when our heroine first notices creepy shit on the walls in whatever locale they stumbled across (at the 30 minute mark. Their car will have broken down at the 20). Even though a few beats played out as expected, it never felt as on rails as far too many of the movies that I see, and that it’s nearly forty years old and hasn’t been copied to the best of my knowledge gives it even more power.

The only red mark is the final reel, which races through a big brawl in the town as well as an unexplained bit where Lila is seen back in her church – is this a flashback? A hallucination? It puzzled me, as did the fate of a major character who re-appears claiming that they “can’t be killed” when it was never apparent that they were “killed” in the first place. I don’t know if it was edited or just never shot properly (this was a low budget affair, which should not surprise you), but this section of the film definitely feels a bit “off” compared to the fast but careful pacing of the rest.

Still, a minor issue in the grand scheme of things, and the final scene is perfectly clear/awesome, so it ends on a high note. And it looks gorgeous, the DVD (from Synapse) was given a great transfer after years of what I understand were terrible VHS versions. In fact this very much seems like the sort of movie that would be on one of my budget packs, so I’m happy that Synapse has “saved” it from the same fate that has befallen my beloved Cathy’s Curse and who knows how many others that will probably never be given a proper release. Obscure as it may be, you Lemora fans out there have been done right by these folks!

What say you?


The Dark Lurking (2010)

MARCH 28, 2012


A few minutes into The Dark Lurking, I started having flashbacks to games like Overblood and the original Resident Evil – not because of the plotting or situations, but from the VOICES. Everyone sounded like they were delivering lines for a video game cutscene, with that strange detached tone of voice and habit of making every single line sound like it was a punchline or meant for a trailer. So it was even more obnoxious when the movie actually began resembling a video game as well.

The plot points in this movie are straight out of any “Survival Horror” game you’ve ever played over the past 15 years or so. Characters are tasked with turning machines back on, taking alternate routes in order to open jammed doors, etc. I half expected one of them to discover that they needed to slide some tiles around in order to form a picture in order to proceed any further. And all of this stuff serves the main “plot”, which, I shit you not, is about the characters trying to pass a number of levels (meaning floors, but called levels every time) in order to escape. Or, you know, WIN. Oh, and it kicks off with a woman waking up in a strange room and with a mysterious tattoo – the same way far too many games in this genre start.

It’s also paced like a video game, in that you get a few seconds of plot/dialogue and then a lot of action. For a low budget movie, I’ll give them this much – they sure as hell don’t skimp on the violence, as it seems there’s another epic shootout or fight every 5 minutes, with lots and lots of mutant blood/goo splattering everywhere. But it’s also like a video game where you play the same level over and over – the enemies never get tougher, there are no new kinds, and no “boss” of note (though there is a traitorous human enemy, Wesker style), which makes this a very repetitive 90 minutes. You could swap the big finale action with any random scene in the middle and it wouldn’t mean much in terms of escalation, something that might not be as noticeable if they weren’t seemingly hellbent on making Dead Space The Movie.

The excess of action is a blessing in one way though: the actors and dialogue are pretty much awful across the board. The main girl is thankfully OK enough, but it doesn’t matter much when she’s given such nonsense to say. The backstory is a confusing jumble of plot points from a dozen sci-fi/horror games and movies, as if they figured by cribbing a bit from everything they could make their own unique concoction. And that can actually work under the right circumstances, but sadly this is not one of those times, because it has no personality of its own. Doomsday was also a “Movie Stew”, but it had the cast (and money) to deliver some real spectacle – when you’re in the low budget world, you have to counter with what you CAN provide (fun dialogue, unique looking monsters, etc).

Another major flaw is that they inexplicably start the movie with a team of guys who are alerted to the problem at the base and head there to help extract survivors. Which would be fine if they were our main characters, but they’re not. After this bit, we are introduced to our actual heroine, who doesn’t know the things we just heard about. It’s very disorienting, and not in a beneficial way – it just makes the movie seem unfocused right from the start. She’s our gateway into this story, so we should be learning things when she does. Plus, it’s not long after we meet her (in a calm scene) that the action ramps up again, so the opening bit is hardly necessary from a “let’s start with a bang” way of thinking – without it we’d still have a big action setpiece before the ten minute mark. Also, I don’t know if it was intentional or not, but the credits are equally disjointed – all out of usual order and skipping the entire cast for some reason – it actually added to the “we’re joining a story already in progress” feeling.

I was far more impressed with the DVD’s making of piece, which ran about 25 minutes and covered tons of technical matters: building the set, creating the FX, etc. Lot of DIY ingenuity and creativity on display here; I would welcome a full length doc if only for the fact that seeing this much work go into such a disappointing movie always bums me out, so 25 minutes is perfect. There’s also a fun short film from the same folks, involving a “Netherworld” – I’d actually be more excited about a feature version of this than I was for the movie, honestly. A fairly impressive trailer and (why?) a still gallery round things out; a decent array of extras for a movie that I wish was better.

What say you?


The Woman (2011)

MARCH 27, 2012


I have been putting off watching The Woman for a while now, because it was a follow up to what was easily the worst of the Jack Ketchum adaptations I have seen: Offspring. Plus, it sounded like the sort of grim, torture-happy movie that I’ve been trying to avoid as of late, so there was just very little to interest me beyond curiosity. But alas, if there’s only a year left of HMADing I need to make sure I get all these movies in, or else I may never get around to it.

Luckily, it’s nowhere near as bad as Offspring, or even as violent as I’d assumed. Considering the minor publicity the movie got after an audience member at its Sundance screening began ranting and raving about how vile the movie was, I was actually surprised to see that it was fairly tame in that department – the titular woman (who is the hero, basically) inflicts more violence on her tormentors than they do on her. Lucky McKee even keeps some of the story’s more disturbing elements off-screen or very vague – at one point we just see the main character’s son doing SOMETHING painful to the Woman, but it’s shot in a way that is impossible to understand what until later when we see the aftermath. It’s a unique approach to this sort of story – by the time the obvious payback comes around, we’re not yet numb to violence, unlike the usual torture-y movies like Hostel.

And at least there IS a payback. The movie is very similar to Ketchum’s Girl Next Door at times, in that it’s more or less about nothing beyond an innocent girl being held against her will and tortured at the hands of despicable people who carry on their everyday lives in the meantime. But unlike that film’s group of adolescent pals, this is a family unit: parents, two daughters, and a son. The father is played by Sean Bridgers, who for better or worse sounds exactly like Will Ferrell and even has some of the same facial mannerisms – it can be a major distraction, but it’s also perversely amusing, if you go the (small) extra step and just picture Ferrell himself in the role of a horrible, abusive person. As we learn over the course of the movie, what he’s doing to the Woman isn’t much worse than how he treats the women in his own family; they never come out and say it, but there’s more than a couple of suggestions that he is molesting the older daughter, and we see him slap around his wife (McKee regular Angela Bettis) more than once. Thus (spoiler!), when the Woman breaks loose and rips his heart out with his bare hands, it’s not only one of the film’s few big showcases of violence/gore, but it’s also quite justified and cathartic.

But there’s just no story here. Bridgers is an asshole, and for 90 minutes he proves this over and over again, until he gets his comeuppance. That’s pretty much it; there are few other characters to speak of, and no one really changes – from her first scene, we can see that Bettis is a meek woman trying to please her dick of a husband at the expense of her own happiness, and that’s how she is in her final scene. The son is a reprehensible sociopath who allows a little girl to be bullied at a party while he focuses on his basketball game, so when he starts doing the “bullying” himself, it’s hardly a big change. And so on. You could cut the entire middle of the movie out and it wouldn’t really make any difference.

At least it’s watchable, even compelling in its own strange way. The terrific soundtrack aids immensely; most of it is modern indie rock with a 70s AM gold flair, and the film has a few montage type scenes perfectly set to these tunes that ultimately rank as its most memorable moments. The acting is great across the board, and the prosthetic work is top notch – one character’s face is half torn off/eaten, and it’s all practical and quite good to boot. Having seen so many indie horror films of late using CGI that they can’t afford to implement correctly, seeing even a BAD practical effect in a film is something of a blessing. Seeing them done well is just heavenly.

The disc comes with a few deleted scenes of little use, a strange animated short film that has nothing to do with the movie as far as I can tell, and a music video for one of the songs that is sadly just a succession of stills from the movie. Much more worthy of your time is the 25 minute making of, which opens and closes with the soapbox-ing douchebag from the Sundance screening. Hilariously, they show this but provide it no context, which I love – why give this schmuck any more attention? The rest is pretty standard behind the scenes material, but covers a lot of ground and focuses on things like sound design as opposed to everyone saying why they loved working with each other. You also get a look at the lengthy makeup process for actress Pollyanna McIntosh, who is nearly unrecognizable when it’s all done.

I think at this point it’s safe to say that I’m not really a fan of Jack Ketchum’s writing. He seems to have a one track mind (“normal seeming people do horrible things!”) and all of his film adaptations lack any characters that are worth really caring about (Red excepted, for Cox - but how can you NOT root for a guy in that situation?). It’s not a bad movie by any means, and if you’re a fan of his writing I’m sure you’ll love this, but ultimately it’s just a big “not for me” effort.

What say you?

P.S. What the hell is up with that post-credits scene? It’s like Tim Burton mixed with the “Tonight, Tonight” video.


Monstroid (1980)

MARCH 26, 2012


I’ve owned the Pure Terror set for quite a while now, but haven’t watched too many movies from it, because most of them are quite bad even by budget pack standards. Monstroid (aka Monster, aka The Toxic Horror) is no exception; in fact it may be the worst of the lot, or at least tied with the woeful My Mom’s A Werewolf. I guess Mill Creek knew what they had on their hands and stocked up Chilling Classics with all the gems in their library. That or I just have poor judgment in picking titles; maybe the other 40 are awesome and I just got all the garbage out of the way.

Anyway, there are two ways one could approach Monstroid’s limited use of the title monster: you can either be thankful that it barely appears, because it’s so terrible looking and lacks even the slightest bit of menace, OR you can be pissed that you have to wait so long to catch a glimpse of the damn thing and you’re “rewarded” with what looks like a bootleg of a lesser Muppet, soaked in water and missing its puppeteer, since it doesn’t blink or have any obvious life to it.

Either way, you realize that the movie sucks; the monster is too lousy to appreciate on a legitimate level, and appears too infrequently to enjoy it ironically. There are only two brief attack scenes in the movie until the final 10 minutes – the rest of it is nothing but talk. And not even talk about the monster! Photography, sonar, dancing, relationship troubles… any of these topics are covered in greater detail than the damn monster. Maybe that’s why they named the movie after him – they probably felt bad for leaving him out of so much of the actual narrative.

Even his origin is a waste of time. If I’m understanding the movie correctly (doubtful, given the woeful transfer that made me feel partially blind AND deaf), he is formed not by the usual toxic waste excuse but concrete being poured into the lake. Huh? Concrete? I had to have heard this wrong. Even filmmakers as inept as this wouldn’t go with such a ludicrous premise. Maybe the monster was already there and the concrete just woke him up or pissed him off? That makes more (movie) sense. I also like the idea that this monster was in there and the only ones who seem to want it dead are evil corporate types, since (again, if I’m following this nonsense) they’re the ones who put the team together to destroy it.

The plan is amazing, too. They stuff a lamb with dynamite and just circle the lake in their helicopter, letting the thing bob around until the monster eats it (whole!), at which point they will detonate the explosives, as if being put inside an animal and chewed up by another wouldn’t already have done that. If Dr. Arzt saw this movie from Lost Heaven I bet he’d be pretty pissed off that he just had to swing a single stick to get blown up while Monstroid can make a snack out of the stuff and be OK. Anyway, the plan is nearly botched when the detonator falls into the lake, so one of our heroes dives in to get it. It’s not too hard though, because the water is super clear for a lake, and surrounded by helpful white walls to provide even more visibility and contrast. Note to filmmakers – if you’re going to fake your damn backyard pool for a swampy lake, maybe try changing the color timing or putting a cover over the surface or something to darken it up a bit?

The only other bit of entertainment I got out of the entire movie (besides a few moments with John Carradine, who is in the film because it’s a low budget horror movie from the 70s and thus there is no alternative that I know of) was courtesy of the asshole who runs the concrete company. No matter what this guy says he peppers it with profanity: “Put on the next goddamned slide!” “What the fuck’s a sonar?” “Read your fucking contract, asshole!, etc. It’s pretty great, and the fact that I often had little to no idea who he was talking to or how it fit into the movie just made it all the more charming. Oh, and they claim it's based on a true story, too. That's always worthy of a laugh.

At this point I should mention what little I learned about the film from the IMDb (it has no Wikipedia page – Wikipedia has pages about bands that released one album, but not even a “stub” for this movie). Apparently they began production in 1971 but ran into money/personnel problems, and it wasn’t finished until 1979. I don’t doubt it for a second, and it would certainly explain the movie’s nearly impenetrable plot and abundance of pointless characters, but I’d be curious to know what parts of the movie were 1971, aka BEFORE Jaws. Because it certainly feels like a post-Jaws movie – the scene with the two drunk fishermen is way too similar to be a coincidence, and other bits and scenes seem lifted or “inspired” from Spielberg’s film as well. Plus, it’d be much easier to dismiss this film as yet another crappy Jaws wannabe than as a just plain terrible movie that was actually trying new ideas in 1971. It also resembles Crater Lake Monster at times, another film that came along later (1976 I believe), so if I had to guess, they had a very small part of a 1971 monster movie that wanted to be Godzilla or something, but they opted to go after some of that Jaws money when it came time to shoot the rest.

It’d probably be easier to tell the difference between the two shoots if the transfer wasn’t sub-Cathy’s Curse for the most part, with the image bouncing up and down like they were projecting it from the back of a truck. In addition, the picture is murky and blurred, and the sound is warbled and tinny – it’s pretty much the worst. It deserves no better, however.

What say you?


Grizzly Rage (2007)

MARCH 25, 2012


It's not uncommon for these RHI productions to use real animals (if they existed; there's no real world equivalent of a Behemoth), so I wasn't surprised to see that the villain in Grizzly Rage was played by an actual bear. Nor was I expecting to see too many shots of him actually chowing down on our actors (three, at most), but at least in Maneater you saw the damn tiger prowling around the actors every now and then. Here, the bear and the humans never ONCE share the frame, even in non-action scenes!

Needless to say, this is a fatal flaw for the movie, though hardly the only one. Our characters are among the dumbest I've ever seen, and I say that with the authority of someone who has watched 2000+ horror movies in a row. At one point they're driving their SUV parallel to a cliff and one of the idiots decides to try to wrestle the wheel away (from the back seat no less) in order to go back for a friend that the bear has already dispatched. Guess what? Their SUV goes over the cliff.

Luckily this is just an inconvenience for them, because this is the most resilient vehicle in movie history - it rams a bear cub, crashes into a tree, goes off a cliff, etc - and is still operable. They use the tow winch to get the thing back up the cliff (not sure this actually possible, but whatever), and apparently invoke some sort of dark magic to re-inflate the tires that we saw flattened by the previous wreck. You see, as with just about everything else in this movie, the accident was just a means of padding the runtime because there's only so many times they can cut to a bear roaring in closeup before cutting to these idiots running, presumably away from the bear that we never in relation to their position.

Wasting time is in fact the MO of the entire movie, particularly with regards to a hunter's shack that they stumble across. One of our characters spends, I'm not exaggerating, five full minutes wandering around the place, investigating every nook and cranny as if he was a detective and this place held the clues he needed to solve some mystery. The owner of the cabin is never shown or mentioned, even though he's got a bunch of traps and other "scary" paraphernalia that suggests an interesting plot twist (or at least a new character that might be tolerable). There's also a swamp filled with toxic waste barrels, which I thought was going to tie into the bear somehow, Prophecy style, but no. It's seen, given a good look by one of our "heroes", and never mentioned again. But hey, another 2-3 minutes of the movie are over! There's also a full length music video, essentially, as some Skillet-esque alt rock song plays in its entirety over shots of our heroes wandering around looking for supplies/help.

With such minimal bear "action", it's actually closer to survival movies like Frozen, except with two key differences. One - the characters there were likable and well rounded, so when they got eaten by wolves or partially, er, frozen, there was some investment for the viewer. No one (intelligent) saw Dan get eaten and said "Finally, something happened!" - they were still wincing from his leg wound. Here, it's not even clear what happens to them when the bear "attacks", because he just growls and maybe swipes a paw and then they're "hurt" or dead of not very well defined injuries. But they must have been major wounds, because we get CGI blood splattered on the lens of the camera, like we're in an arcade shooter.

The other thing Frozen had going for it was a reason for their predicament, i.e. being stuck 50 feet up on a chair lift. We learn early on that jumping to the "soft" snow below doesn't work, so they have to think of other ways. But here - what exactly is keeping them around in the bear's territory? They're not trapped anywhere, only one of them is injured, and they aren't even that far from civilization, since it's daylight when they leave their unnamed major city and it's still daylight when they get to their off-road location, which means that they can't be too far from the "outskirts" of town. Plus it's a bear, it's not going to follow them forever, and it can't exactly sneak up on them.

I should also note the reason that the bear is after them: the idiots kill its cub in the first 10 minutes (more off-screen nonsense). We've been given no reason to like them at any point before this, so any sane person would just be rooting for the bear anyway. Luckily (spoiler) it succeeds; in the film's ridiculous climax, the two survivors lock the bear inside that cabin (after MORE slow speed poking around inside; I swear I know this cabin better than I know my own home at this point) and start to finally walk out of the area, but then the bear busts through the door and kills them both at once. It's hilarious, and even sort of helps make the bear the hero - it's a she, after all, so it's like the Final Girl being nearly killed by the villain, only to find one last surge of strength and take him down as the audience cheers.

So if you want the foundation from which you can make up your own vastly superior movie, like I just did, I highly recommend Grizzly Rage. Otherwise, stick with the totally batshit Bear if you simply MUST watch a movie about a bear seeking vengeance, or Prophecy if you want one where the pollution subplot has a goddamn point, or Brother Bear if you want more horrific violence.

What say you?


Camel Spiders (2012)

MARCH 24, 2012


I was a bit disappointed when Camel Spiders shifted its focus from the desert of some unnamed Middle Eastern country to a more typical Syfy movie setting (some Southwestern town long past its glory years). I was kind of hoping it'd be like Assault on Precinct 13 but with spiders, with our heroes having to team up with their Iraqi (?) enemies against the title monsters, but alas. But that's my own fault for thinking that they'd break protocol in a Roger Corman/Jim Wynorski production.

But actually it's not all that bad. Wynorski may not be the guy to come up with any great ideas, but at least he knows his audience for this stuff and is capable of keeping a good pace going. It's not long after we switch from "overseas" to the (very similar looking) US location that the spiders begin their attack, and the action rarely lets up for too long from there. Our heroes make their way around a few locations and the spiders are always on their tail, resulting in repetitive but admirably bountiful action, with lots of carnage and death ensuing each time. And like the also decent Metal Shifters, it's more of a Tremors type approach, with a big group of folks as the focus instead of a couple heroes who drive around looking for the monster, sprinkled with context-free death scenes of random locals.

And Wynorski actually pulls off a pretty good trick concerning a group of obligatory teen characters. They pull up in the desert, ready to go hiking. The nice female of the group (who's got a bit of an Anna Faris in Scary Movie thing going on) gets pissed at the others and takes off, so you think she'll eventually find out what's happening and go back to save them before it's too late or something. But no! The other three get killed moments later. Then they cut back to Faux-ris, who has arrived in town. So now you assume she'll team up with the rest of the cast or something - but then she gets killed as well! Awesome! Wynorski spends just enough time with them and gives them a bit of drama for it to genuinely work as a surprise (plus I just assumed that they didn't have the money to hire more actors to replace them), and then he introduces our REAL group of obligatory teens, who last a lot longer.

The main group is a pretty good mix; a couple of Army folks (including Brian Krause, an underrated actor who deserves better but also elevates this sort of stuff), some locals, a family of three, two asshole businessmen, and sheriff C Thomas Howell, who thankfully doesn't butt heads with Krause over jurisdiction or whatever. In fact they become buddies pretty quickly, and that's another thing I liked about the flick: everyone got along and were fairly pleasant to be around - I actually felt kind of bummed about 2-3 of the deaths. The only exception was the silver haired businessman asshole, because as a silver haired businessman in a movie he HAS to be an asshole, right? Is there any other kind? So he was obnoxiously generic, and I also didn't shine much to the daughter of the family trio, who looked to be in her early teens but whined and talked like a 7 year old ("Mommy, where is Daddy? Is Daddy going to be OK?"). And her mom was just as bad: "Daddy is going to be just fine, Sweetie." In fact I thought her name WAS Sweetie because that's all they ever call her; it's not until late in the film when the idiot goes off by herself that I caught her name (Haley). Then one of the movie's best characters gets killed trying to save her! Stupid kid.

Another highlight: the FX are decent! There's some effort into making them blend with their surroundings (shadows and such), and the spiders look pretty cool as well. They sort of float as they "run" toward folks, but they're much better than average, and they seem to stay the same size throughout instead of scaling up and down depending on what the scene called for. In fact I was kind of expecting that the finale would feature a giant one, but they're all a few feet long at most throughout the movie, and the climax just ends like most Wynorski monster movies do - helicopters swooping in and blowing everything to hell.

Well, the climax of the actual movie, I should say. The movie then takes an odd turn as they cut to some slasher movie in progress, and then showing that the movie was showing in a drive-in, which has been overrun by spiders. Then the movie burns into white as spider silhouettes walk by the screen, like that bit in Gremlins 2. I THINK this is just showing that the spiders haven't all been killed but have just spread to other areas, but it would have been a lot more fun to just zoom out of the spider movie and have the scene play out "in the real world", without this random slasher thing in the mix making it confusing.

And it's a hundred times better than Eight Legged Freaks, and a mere 17 times better is all I was hoping for anyway. The disc has no extras at all besides some trailers, though I have an idea for a future Wynorski release: a list of all his pseudonyms, with Wynorski explaining the origin of each one. Somewhere there's a guy with the actual name Jay Andrews wondering why his pals are constantly making jokes about "his" silly monster movies and what he ever did to Wynorski to deserve the ridicule. OR, maybe he totally plays it up in bars, pointing at his name on the bar TV (in this scenario, the bar is showing Syfy movies instead of a basketball game), telling the ladies that he's the director. And unlike Wynorski he can whip out his license and "prove" it! Score!

What say you?


Curse Of Bigfoot (1976)

MARCH 23, 2012


Folks love to mock guys like Charles Band for recycling footage from older movies and splicing it with a few minutes of newly shot stuff to make a "new" movie, so it's kind of nice to know the practice is quite old. 1976's Curse Of Bigfoot is about 20 minutes of new movie, and all 59 minutes' worth of the wonderfully titled Teenagers Battle The Thing, a 1958 effort that may not have ever been officially released (there's no IMDb page). It's good to know that if I'm ever hard up for ideas I can just shoot a few scenes of myself telling stories and use all the terrible "short films" and such I made in high school as the meat of the story.

Interestingly, the new footage actually has the same actor as Teenagers, giving this a bit of credibility I wasn't expecting. He sort of looks like Ronny Cox from Deliverance in the present day sequences, telling the story of his "Bigfoot" encounter to a class of hilariously bored (or stoned) 70s students. Weirdly, there's no wrapup to these scenes - the movie ends as Teenagers did, still in the 50s as the monster (spoiler!) burns to death as the result of their amazing plan to throw gasoline on the thing and set it on fire. I'd complain that it takes the entire movie for them to figure this out, but the damn "Bigfoot" doesn't wake up until the final 20 minutes, so it's pretty much the only plan they ever try.

You'll notice I'm putting "Bigfoot" in quotes; that's because he's actually an Aztec mummy. See, Bigfoot was a big craze in the 70s thanks to the Patterson-Gimlin film, but not so much in 1958. Oddly, the term was first coined (as "Big Foot") that same year by some folks who discovered some tracks (though this was later proven to be a hoax), but as that was in October of that year the odds are pretty good that Teenagers was already shot. Not that it matters, since it's a Mummy, but it's kind of interesting all the same - maybe the Flocker brothers (director Dave, writer James) noticed the 1958 connection and that's how they got the idea to finally get some use out of their crappy little movie, almost 20 years later.

Anyway, it's pretty dull. Again, it takes forever for the Mum-foot to show up, and it doesn't do a hell of a lot - just lumbers around awkwardly while terrible actors react (or not). Even when it wakes up we're robbed of a cool scene - it's under a blanket, which starts to rise, and the nearest teen just instantly runs off to get his friends. Then they go outside (a scene so dark I began to wonder if the movie was actually just a fever dream I was having) and one of them says "Look! He must have taken off into the grove!" and we just have to take his word for it, because we can barely see who's talking let alone what he's referring to. To be fair, in the original version this would be just past the halfway point, which is pretty standard for a movie of that time, but the Brothers Flocker should have re-edited their original film a bit more to move the early parts along.

Indeed, the runtime is 88 minutes, but the movie is listed as "TV" on the IMDb. If true, how did this fit into a 90 OR 120 minute block? 90 minute blocks required a movie of around 75-78 minutes for commercials, and two hours would be 96 or so. I certainly wouldn't want a LONGER version of this movie, so it seems like it would make more sense to cut another 10 minutes of this padding both in a creative sense (get to the monster!) and a business one (get this thing a 90 minute slot so we can put on a MASH rerun!).

The mask is a wonderful slice of terrible cheese; it appears to be a paper mache attempt at a Wolfman mask, complimented by a suit that can best be described as a beat up full body sweater. I guess it's just serendipity though; it actually looks more like a Bigfoot than any mummy I've ever seen (also good that the original title just called it a "Thing" - you can assume it's whatever the hell you want!). For even more fun, there's the professor's speech early on about "real vs movie" monsters, where he talks about "demonic possession" and "Great white shark" movies, but without actually saying their name lest anyone get in trouble. As if Warner Bros or Universal didn't have anything better to do than fuck with the poor Brothers Flocker, just trying to make some coin off of their lousy, but endearing little "thing" movie.

I should note that the bad acting is another blessing in disguise. See, the monster looks terrible and has no menace whatsoever, so the fact that the "actors" couldn't be bothered to display any real fear when they encounter it actually fits - why WOULD they be afraid of this goofy looking thing? Even after it goes on a killing spree and the cops join in, nothing seems particularly urgent. There's a hilarious bit where a guy says "We should move, it's been a half hour" (or something along those lines) and rather than just take his word for it and spring into action, the cop grabs the guy's wrist and verifies the time for himself, before muttering an acknowledgment and having everyone shuffle off to another area.

In other words - BEST MOVIE EVER.

What say you?


The Gingerdead Man (2005)

MARCH 22, 2012


The sad thing about The Gingerdead Man isn’t that it’s a terrible movie, because that much was obvious from the start. No, the problem is that it’s not AS terrible (read: fun) as it should be, because it’s a Charles Band movie and thus of course he botches his potential to make a delightfully bad camp classic. As is often the case with him, it’s just a boring, action-free movie that limits its title character to about five minutes of screen time and only a single Gingerdead based kill (!).

I mean, seriously: Gary Busey as a murderous cookie. This should be the Citizen Kane of laughable crap, but instead it’s a chore, as it takes 30 minutes or so before the cookie shows up and he dies 25 minutes later. Oh, might as well get this out of the way – this “movie” technically isn’t, because it runs for 70 minutes total with a 10 minute (!) end credit sequence and another 4 or so for opening titles. So you’re dealing with 55, 56 minutes of actual movie, most of which has fuck all to do with murderous pastry.

Busey also barely appears in human form. The movie opens awkwardly, with him already in the process of robbing a diner, sans any of that confusing “setup” or “introduction to the characters”. After shooting a couple of folks, he rambles about how he doesn’t want to kill the last one (Full Moon staple Robin Sydney), but his mother demands he do so. Anyway, he fails, and then we hear some sirens as he runs off. But they apparently caught him, because we later learn he was executed for his crimes. So Band gives us the middle part of his character’s already limited story, leaving me to wonder if Busey was on set for one hour, or two.

Hell I’m not even sure he’s the actual voice of the cookie. Sure, it sounds like him, but it’s not like it takes a lot to pull off a convincing Gary Busey impression. But let’s give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that either on his way on or off the set to film his confusing opening scene, someone held a recorder up to his mouth and gave him a piece of paper with 5 or 6 lines to read. And then, viola! Quick stop by crafty to stock up on Twizzlers and bananas and it’s off to... whatever it is Gary Busey does when he's not making a total ass out of himself. Oscar nominee, folks.

Not only does it fail to deliver even the bare minimum of humanoid cookie action (again: ONE KILL! Plus two lame attacks), it’s also a tremendously stupid movie at its core, and yes I’ve already factored in the plot. Get this: the entire movie takes place in a tiny bakery (said to be Waco TX for reasons I cannot discern; it’s clearly Los Angeles), which the characters refuse to leave even though they’re not trapped there. At one point a girl even calls her father down to help, but they remain standing around near the oven instead of just going outside like they are free to do. I mean, it’s a fucking cookie – it’s not like he can do much if you merely go outside and lock the door. It’s hilarious to see cars driving by and such as the characters fret about how their cell phones are dead. Drive home and get your charger!

We’re also robbed of a Busey-fied climax, as a guy kills Gingerdead Man by eating his head (the movie’s best moment by far), but then he just becomes possessed by it or something. So now Gingerdead Man starring Gary Busey comes down to some random guy (a character I had forgotten existed even though it had only been 40 minutes since he left) wearing lame contacts. And I would put money on the notion that this bit only exists to pad the runtime out a bit because there’s probably a law against end credits running more than 10 minutes. Ditto for the closing scene, which is a year later or whatever and we see that the bakery is now thriving and our (too many) surviving characters are doing well. Oh and then a few gingerbread men are shown to be alive by, I shit you not, someone putting plastic “googly eyes” on them over their standard black dot ones. It’s quite possibly the cheapest thing I’ve ever seen in a Full Moon movie, which speaks so many volumes my brain started to hurt trying to process it.

Why am I still writing this? The movie came out 7 years ago; you’ve either seen the movie already and know all of this, or have no plans to do so because you’re smarter than me. There is no one that has been on the fence wondering if they should take the Gingerdead Man plunge for the better part of a decade, so this review serves no one. Extra irony: between writing, formatting, and posting, delivering this worthless post took longer than it took to watch the goddamn movie. Sometimes I really hate my life.

What say you?


Creepshow 2 (1987)

MARCH 21, 2012


I saw Creepshow 2 as a kid at least 2-3 times, but all I remembered in the slightest was the middle segment, “The Raft”. I could remember the basic idea of “The Hitchhiker” and “Old Chief Wooden Head”, but nothing specific, and the wraparound segment was a total blur – I didn’t even recall that it was animated! As it turns out, my memory was just trying to protect me – “The Raft” is the only one I fully enjoyed as an adult.

In fact I’m actually kind of amazed that 8 year old BC was able to make it that far, because “Wooden Head” is the first and by far the weakest. For starters it takes way too long to set up – I’ve seen feature narratives that get to the damn point sooner, as we spend an interminable amount of time listening to George Kennedy and his wife discuss their failing store, and then a Native American talk endlessly about his own financial problems before trusting some sacred stones to Kennedy as collateral for his debts. Then some jerks show up out of nowhere, and THEY talk endlessly as they trash the store and then kill the couple. We’re now nearly a half hour into the movie, which doesn’t leave much time for the title character to exact his revenge – the kills have almost no buildup and aren’t particularly interesting. Plus we barely see him in action – arrows are shot from off-screen, or we watch a shadow… it’s certainly not worth the wait. Also, the main jerk (an Indian played by the white Hoyt McCallany in an early role) talks about his hair endlessly, which just makes his fate (being scalped) far too obvious.

But then “The Raft” begins, and it’s all back on track. This would easily fit in with the first film (or the superior Tales From The Darkside*), as it has a simple story and a fast pace that befits an anthology – it’s the shortest of the lot as well. No time is wasted as our protagonists are introduced and catch sight of the monstrous ooze in the first five minutes or so, and then someone dies every couple minutes thereafter. Sure, the climax makes no sense with regards to the rest of it (if it could do that, why didn’t it do that at the raft?) but it’s fun, boasts great FX, and was, I think, a young BC’s first exposure to the idea that people in horror movies didn’t really care about their friends dying if there was a chance that they could get laid out of the deal. This may be true in real life, I dunno – I’ll let you know if the situation ever presents itself.

Then there’s “The Hitchhiker”, which isn’t as woeful as the first tale, but is also drawn out and lacks a good punchline – it’s just an endless fight between our terrible heroine (she cheats on her husband AND runs people over without worry? What a prize!) and the zombie hitchhiker, who just keeps saying “Thanks for the ride, lady!” in hopes that someday it gets turned into a T-shirt. The makeup on Tom Wright as he is continually mangled by the lady (Lois Chiles) and her car is impressive, but it’s just too repetitive for my tastes. And she talks to herself too damn much; her repeated imaginary conversations with her mechanic about all of the damage she’s racking up drove me up a wall (even if they have that King flavor that a lot of the movie lacks – the script was by George Romero this time but the stories were all King’s).

And I never quite got what was actually happening – was she really being menaced by this guy or was it just her imagination? The body is seemingly being taken care of by other drivers on the road (including Stephen King), so it doesn’t quite fit that he’d be able to get up and follow her. But she has his “Dover” sign, which was clearly left at the scene, so I dunno. Not that it’s a dealbreaker, but the original Creepshow had such great final bits or twists, so it’s a bummer when the end of a tale is more of a question mark.

The wraparound is kind of weak too, though the idea is fun. A “Creepshow” loving kid orders a Venus flytrap, only to run afoul of some bullies who proceed to destroy his purchase. The twist is that this is just his NEWEST flytrap, and thus the bullies get chomped by the others, who are giant and thus could probably swallow Audrey II whole. I couldn’t help but think how much better this story would be in live-action – the animation is kind of lame and poorly directed (notice how everyone’s positions change before the flytraps appear). Plus, the animated Creep isn’t nearly as cool as the rarely seen live action one, who is played by Tom Savini. You’ll miss Tom Atkins, is what I’m saying.

The limited number of stories is also a sore spot, and has seemingly set precedent for anthology films since. The original had five (plus the wraparound), and the 70s ones from Amicus and such were mostly four stories if memory serves, but from Creepshow 2 on, 3 was pretty much the norm. Sure, Creepshow is pretty long and 90 minute movies make more sense for TV broadcast, but there’s no rule that every tale has to be a half hour. If anything Creepshow 2 should have set the precedent for THAT – the story that goes the longest is the weakest; the shortest the best. If they were all the length of “The Raft” they could have fit another story in and still came in around 95 minutes.

So it’s uneven at best, but it still has its charms. If you fast-forward through the bullshit on “Wooden Head” and can put up with Chiles’ constantly talking to herself, it’s certainly amusing and relatively fast paced (again, once you get past the bulk of “Wooden Head”), and the FX all hold up quite well. And since to this day I have yet to hear a single good thing about Creepshow 3, and can unfortunately vouch first hand for the awfulness of the Deadtime Stories movies, it actually ranks quite high in this little sub-genre of Romero-related anthology films. But I still say Darkside (the unofficial but still more legit 3rd Creepshow) is the better followup. Swap in “The Raft” for that one’s underwhelming Rae Dawn Chong story and you have a movie almost as good as the original, in my opinion.

What say you?

*Oddly, the middle story of that one was the only one I had remembered as well. Why does my memory work so weird?


Resurrection County (2008)

MARCH 20, 2012


I actually rented Resurrection County over Human Centipede II, figuring I wasn’t yet in the mood for such grim depravity (and I also have The Woman on the way, another movie that sounds like I might want a shower after). So it’s interesting that it not only turned out to be pretty grim itself, but that the dark tone is exactly what I liked about it, elevating it (albeit slightly) above its other “running afoul of rednecks” brethren.

Wait, didn’t I just go off on The Eves for being one of these generic movies? Yes, but this one manages to get a few things right amidst all of its familiar story beats. For starters, the characters are a bit older, and are dealing with real world problems such as quickie marriages and uncertain job security – much more tolerable than yet another group of teens who only care about having sex and/or being total assholes to one another. They’re not exactly the most charming and likable folks I’ve ever seen (Dayton Knoll’s character is kind of a straight up asshole), they feel like human beings instead of caricatures, and decently acted for a change.


And they all die. I’ve said numerous times that I’m always bothered by these sort of movies that showcase a group of villains who seemingly kill tourists for a living and are undone by our heroes, so I liked that this serves as a “just another day” tale for the bad guys. Sure, our heroes manage to take a few of them out, but at the end of the day, our weekend camper protagonists are no match for the professional redneck killers. Unpleasant, sure, but after seeing so many horror movies without any balls, I found it kind of refreshing that the movie didn’t even come close to a happy ending. Some may find it a bit too much – (offscreen) rape and the death of a pregnant character are involved – but I enjoyed the minor surprises it offered; I was legit shocked when one character was dispatched early on, and the writers did a fine job of balancing everyone out so that a clear hero or “Final Girl” wasn’t obvious. Even if the last one alive HAD made it out, they wouldn’t have been the clear favorite from the first ten minutes, which is usually the case.

Also: PRACTICAL FX!!! Things get pretty gruesome here, and it was wonderful to see so much real fake blood splattering on walls or pooling out on the floor instead of the CGI shit that’s becoming the standard. And I liked how gooey it got… one character gets their brains blown out, and their partner, in a state of shock, tries scooping it back in like DeNiro in The Deer Hunter. Heh. But the movie is actually humor free, which makes these moments actually sting a little – you can’t help but feel for the guy, and the filmmakers clearly aren’t interested in lightening the mood, ever.

The only real flaw is that there are a few too many scenes involving a sheriff that is snooping around. For a change in these things, the cop ISN’T one of the villains, which is fine/good, but it all feels like padding. The movie runs a bit longer than average (95 minutes) so I think it could be done without this stuff; the only real purpose it serves is to give an excuse for the rednecks to leave the area where our heroes are chained up – something a little more streamlined would have improved things. Again, this is pretty familiar territory for the most part, so it’s kind of a bummer that the closest thing they have to a new idea actually hinders the pace.

So if you’re not totally burned out on these things (or even if you think you are), you might find something to enjoy here. It’s not a great movie by any means, but I admire the bullshit-free, unsettling approach to this material after seeing so many that didn’t have the balls to commit to being so ruthless. And again, it’s nice to see adults in this kind of horror movie every now and then too.

What say you?


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