Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Blind Movie Reviews: Horrorfest, Part 2

As promised, continued from last week, I bring you reviews of the final five movies of last year's Horrorfest contest, before actually I've seen any of the movies.

Dark Ride
Ten years after a poignantly uncharismatic set of twins is murdered in an attempt to make a horror-themed carnival ride actually scary, their killer escapes from a mental institution and returns to the first place the police would typically think to look for him. The police, however, are apparently even more inept than the serial killer, as they seem to respond to escaped psycho killers with a dismissive shrug preceding the rationalization of, "We'll just follow the trail of dead bodies to the place he's most likely hiding."

One of the serial killer's first tasks is to prove the overall effectiveness of an overnight carnival security guard who apparently gets to deliver one line before having his head sliced directly in half in an absurd horror movie cliche. I mean, it takes several minutes for a bone saw, which is specifically created to saw through bone, to slice through a person's skull, but this guy's machete will slice a head clean in half in .001 seconds. Physics works!

It's hard to really be frightened watching a horror film when you find yourself actually wanting the victims to die. Given the personalities depicted in the preview, there isn't a single one of the college students visiting this amusement park ride whom I wouldn't be enthusiastically commending their violent bloody death, and possibly the defiling of their corpse. Seriously, every one of these kids represents everything I hate about the college fresh/more fraternity / sorority mentality. My fucking God, get these kids off the planet before they have a chance to breed idiotic, self-important children and climb the corporate ladder faster through ass-kissing than aptitude. Fuck these kids. This killer is doing the world a favor.

Ever wonder just how much irony you can stuff into a horror movie before it becomes one big disappointing cliché? When you set your horror movie in a horror-themed carnival ride, provide a masked killer wielding an impossibly sharp machete, include inept public servants and a group of victims so irritating it harkens back to the Friday the 13th days of hoping every victim dies a horribly agonizing death, there's so much cliché that your serious film suddenly becomes a parody of itself. Since I seriously doubt this is the intent, my final verdict is: Set phasers to "fail."


The Abandoned
Okay, this has a weird, but
not altogether unheard-of premise for a horror movie. The heroine's mother died shortly after her birth, somehow defecting her to America. After much research, despite the fact that she has no idea who her birth parents are and the Russian government conveniently "lost" all pertinent records through gross efficiency, she discovers that her roots can be traced back to the Motherland. She travels to Russia, only to find out that their records division is incompetent, but they do eventually dig up the identity of her mother. She goes to her family's estate, which has been abandoned for forty years to try to find some sense of reason in her mother's mysterious death.

It's there that she meets a Russian brother she never knew she had. You can tell he's Russian because she speaks fluent English with a Russian-tinged accent. He somehow knows a lot of information about the history of the house and the nature of the house that apparently wants to recreate history and kill the offspring. With true American spirit, the woman is fighting to stay alive while her Russian brother simply accepts his fate and tries beyond all hope or reason to discourage her will to live. As the seconds tick down, she becomes more desperate, and her brother becomes more detached, and ghosts from forty years ago start showing up speaking perfect English with a Russian accent. Also: the ghost of a pig.

Overall, this movie for some reason reminds me of The Shining, and not in a good way. I cannot fathom how it won the Horrorfest, except that it's very likely that every other movie it ran against were just bad enough to make this one look good.


Wicked Little Things
Ninety years ago, for inexplicable reasons, a group of corrupt coal mine foremen decided to blow up a mine full of child slave laborers. For even more unfathomable reason, the miners who were buried in the mine were somehow able to return from the dead as cannibalistic zombies who prey on stupid widows and their stupid children who decide to relocate to the direct center of bumfucked nowhere following the deaths of their husbands.

Equally unfathomably inexplicably, the town full of reanimated cannibal zombie miners is inhabited, primarily it appears, by idiot sex-starved teenagers and adults who are so reclusive that the best advice they can give the freshly arrived family is to get out without explaining why. Now, whever you tell someone that they have to leave, but don't say why, it just makes the person all the more defiant, and curious. For instance, if you tell me that I don't want to live in the house up on the hill because it's about fifty feet from the entrance of a coal mine that routinely regurgitates flesh-eating zombie children, then I'm going to stay the fuck away from the house. However, if you tell me to get out of the house I inherited simply because it's "private property," I'm going to give you a hearty "Fuck you" and stay because it's now my fucking private property.

Anyway, this movie looks slightly interesting. Zombies are typically not really that scary because they move so sluggishly that finding innovative new ways to smash their heads is not altogether difficult. This was proven by the groundbreaking zombie movie Shaun of the Dead, particularly the scene where the two heroes not only had time to Frisbee records into the heads of the zombies, but argue over which records were worth Frisbeeing. The movie 28 Days Later presented us a new take on the zombie concept, by creating zombies that, despite still being utterly brain-dead, were able to move really fast, eliminating the possibility of taking your time to find just the right instrument to smash their heads. This movie, however, brings us yet another take on the zombie concept, and possibly the scariest take of all: Zombies who can not only move quickly with agility, but also intelligently. Intelligent, agile, and fast zombies. FUCK!

Snoop Dogg's Hood of Horror
So this is what Snoop's been doing for the past couple years while he hasn't been rapping. Normally, any horror movie with the word "hood" in the title I give all the credibility it deserves, which primarily consists of a derisive snicker from me. That's certainly what this movie got when I first saw the title amongst the other Horrorfest contenders. However titles can be deceiving. This movie doesn't look nearly as bad as it sounds. I mean, it doesn't look quite promising enough for me to willingly want to spend money on, but I wouldn't object to watching it if it happened to show up on cable either.

Snoop's decided to revitalize the horror omnibus film where three or four short stories are collected under one title, interposed by an omnipresent chaperone to tie the stories together. Such movies as the original Tales from the Crypt, Twilight Zone, and Tales from the Darkside are fine examples of the type of horror movie Snoop Dogg is attempting here. Although none of those movies were particularly scary, they were entertaining enough. I suspect much the same from this feature. There's nothing profoundly scary to be expected here, just purely mindless, gore-filled indulgence, delivered with Snoop's style and sense of humor. That alone might be enough to make it worth watching.

The Tripper
This movie has the distinct honor of possibly being so bad that it doesn't deserve a preview on the Horrorfest website, a release date, or even so much as its own website, which instantly indicates to me: Ha-ha, what a loser!

All I have to go on for this movie is its description on the Horrorfest website and the fact that the movie poster features what looks like the undead corpse of Carrot Top as the killer. The plot outlined for this movie makes it seem so ridiculous that it couldn't possibly be anything but a parody of slasher films, or political films, or both. Given that, after a little poking around online, I discovered that the writers and producers of the movie are comedic team David and Courtney Cox-Arquette, this could quite possibly be the case. At any rate, I seriously doubt it could be all that scary.

What we have here is a serial killer obsessed with Ronald Reagan who stalks and kills a bunch of pothead hippies. Ha-ha, I get it. The last stalwart of true Conservativism versus the stereotypical Liberal. Wow, what profound political commentary you have developed there, David and Courtney! Even the title of the movie is a play on Reagan's nickname of "Gipper," only replaced with a "TR" to emphasize the drug reference. Will the subtle cleverness ever end?! Unfortunately, it just makes the killer seem really ineffectively clumsy.


Given the Cox-Arquette prior track record of horror movies, (consisting of the Scream series), I suspect that this might have a few mildly humorous observational quips and not much in the way of actual horror. It could be that, as with Dark Ride, I have a hard time conjuring sympathy for a group of post-adolescent pot heads "set out on a drug-induced weekend of debauchery." One less group of career stoner delinquents to contribute to everything wrong with society. Somehow my shock quotient defaults to "impotent" when I feel more attachment to the killer than I do the victims. Maybe it's time for David Arquette to go back to being a loser and Courtney Cox to go back to being eye candy.

np: King Crimson - "Three of a Perfect Pair

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