Monday, January 23, 2012

Wrong Turn 2 (2007)

A reality show cast in the woods running from deformed hillbillies?  Could this be Rock of Love: Summer Camp?  That would actually be such an awesome idea, and I'm sure Bret Michaels would be up for it.  WT2 has a smattering of no-ones, and horror semi-regulars such as Henry Rollins, Erica Leerhsen and Crystal Lowe. 

Basically, this is a Survivor-type of competition, where six people are split into teams to traipse about the woods and do little challenges.  There's also the video guys, the producer, and the host (Henry Rollins)  And with this being a Wrong Turn movie, we have horribly deformed cannibals out for blood.  Although this movie starts out a bit different from WT1, it seems that everyone in these movies are destined to wind up in that one house where the moron looked for a bathroom in the first one.  This time, they're "looking for a phone."  Brilliant.

As the formula goes, the attractive, albeit terribly stereotypical "stars" of the reality show are set to fight for their lives trying to escape from the woods full of cannibals.  This time we get a little backstory on the cannibals and their history, which is actually very similar to that of The Hills Have Eyes remake.  We get a little Texas Chainsaw Massacre and even a little taste of Cabin Fever. 

The best part about the Wrong Turn movies are the cannibal special effects and the brutal kills.  This one has everything from someone being sliced directly in half, Ichi the Killer-style to an arrow through two heads at once.  The cannibals are super grotesque in this iteration, and we even get treated to cannibal sex!  Raunchy!  The mutant baby is also an especially nice touch.

Wrong Turn 2 is a predictable but fun slasher with great special effects.  Although Eric Leerhsen is no Eliza Dushku, the acting in this movie gets the job done with everybody keeping me at least somewhat interested in their fates.  They, of course, leave this open for a Wrong Turn 3, which we all know is not even the last installment of this franchise.  Rock on, mutant cannibals.

Monday, January 9, 2012

The Clinic (2010)

A gorgeous Australian couple, Beth (Tabrett Bethel) and Cameron (Andy Whitfield) are traveling across the country to visit Beth's mother for Christmas.  Beth is pregnant and they are wonderfully in love, even cutely enjoying their short stay at a shitbox roadside motel. 

After dozing off in the evening, Cameron awakens to find a note from Beth saying she went out for food.  However, he looks all over for her, to no avail.  Meanwhile, Beth wakes up in a bathtub full of ice, her stomach sliced open and baby removed. 

She wanders around to find that there are several other women in the warehouse-type facility.  All with the same issue -- baby removed, but kept alive.  What is the reason for keeping them alive if they already have what they presumably want...the baby?

The women are apparently left to wander around the building(s) at will, wearing strange uniforms with Roman numerals on them.  Someone is watching their moves intently on monitors, but don't seem to interfere at any point.  Meanwhile, Cameron goes all Jim Halsey on the local police, eventually commandeering a cop car to go in search of Beth.  This, predictably, does not end well.

The women focus their efforts on finding their babies, not knowing that some among them have ulterior motives.  The premise is vaguely Saw 2-esque, with babies instead of nerve gas, mixed with a little Hostel-style adoption.  I'd say this movie was fairly mid-range.  It seemed like a lot of movies mixed together, trying to be a cohesive story.  I never got the true creepiness that was intended, although the acting was pretty good.  I wouldn't put this on the top of your list, but it would be worth a look.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Stirred by J.A. Konrath and Blake Crouch

Over the summer, I became completely obsessed with J.A. Konrath/Jack Kilborn and Blake Crouch.  I devoured many of their books, and took a break, wondering if I had a mental disorder for loving the blood, torture, and carnage a little too much.  I never got too hooked on the Jack Daniels series; although she was featured in a few of Konrath's stories, I just couldn't ever picture/identify with her.  Kind of like Sookie Stackhouse in Charlaine Harris's books.  But, you know, with decapitations and such.

Stirred called to me, being that I was entirely concerned about the Luther Kite/Andrew Z. Thomas ending in Break You.  The thought of someone being isolated, force fed, mutilated, etc. but still being kept alive, really freaked me the fuck out.  The premise of an ending to all of this was quite promising.

You can definitely read this without having knowledge of the previous Jack Daniels stories, but it's definitely more enjoyable if you've read about Lucy, Donaldson, Kite, and Thomas.  Where Daniels floats from story to story, I find the "killers" more intriguing and unbreakable. 

Stirred picks up 7 years after Thomas was imprisoned, his love Violet, and his son, Max, taken away from him.  Luther Kite is truly planning an awesome revenge against Jack Daniels and others who have wronged him.  Daniels on the other hand is retired and hugely pregnant, essentially engaged to a former fugitive.  She seems uninterested in being a mother, and more focused on her former life of solving crime.  Unfortunately, she needs to be constantly protected by friends and confidantes, for fear that a former killer seeks revenge.

At the same time that Luther concocts his elaborate plan, Lucy and Donaldson are plotting as well.  Shells of human beings, rotting away in a prison hospital, they stockpile drugs and plan their escape.  They, too, seek out Daniels, but also wish to inflict pain on Luther, who burned them terribly after their first escape from a hospital.

What ensues is a mix between Seven and Saw: The Final Chapter, where Daniels must follow clues, and then finds herself in an abandoned city, going through a series of traps set to mimic Dante's Inferno.  Everything is contained in these games, from strangers to friends to lovers to her own baby. 

Although slightly unbelievable at times (a grizzly bear, really?) Stirred was a wonderful collaboration between Konrath and Crouch.   They claim that this is the last Kite/Thomas book, but the ending certainly leaves it open for a sequel.  I've read a fair amount of horror in the last few years, and Konrath/Crouch are the only authors that continue to kill it hardcore.  Rock on, horror brothers.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Tucker and Dale vs. Evil (2010)

Clearly Tucker and Dale vs. Evil knew that I needed a laugh this week and they seriously delivered.  I haven't enjoyed a horror comedy so much since Zombieland.  Tucker (Alan Tudyck aka Pirate Steve) and Dale (Tyler Labine) were cast perfectly, and the cheesy overacting of the camping college students was spot-on.  Leading psycho Chad (Jesse Moss) was reminiscent of Skeet Ulrich in Scream and Katrina Bowden from 30 Rock was drop-dead gorg as leading lady, Allison.  The supporting, and extremely stereotypical, parts were portrayed awesomely by little-known actors who were funny and cliched without stepping on the toes of the central players.

Tucker and Dale is about two separate groups of people -- some college kids on a drunken camping weekend, and two hicks setting up a vacation home.  They cross paths initially in a country store before they both take off for their respective weekends.  The college kids are spooked by Dale, who really only has a crush on Allison, but is not good at talking to girls.  Tucker and Dale arrive at their vacation home, not aware that it was previously the residence of a serial killer, although there are clues everywhere.  The campers get drunk and skinny dip, while Tucker and Dale fish nearby.

A minor accident involving Allison kicks off the events of the rest of the movie.  While removing her clothes and preparing to jump off a high rock, Allie slips and bonks her head.  Dale saves her, and yells to her friends, who misinterpret the event as a kidnapping.  The battle is on, as the college students believe they have to "rescue" their friend, who is in reality resting comfortably and being served pancakes.

The events that follow are truly hilarious.  With all good intentions, Tucker and Dale continue to appear more and more like serial killers, while the clueless college students proceed to maim and kill themselves in hysterical fashion.  Dale is lovable and strangely intelligent, while Tucker is curmudgeonly and crass.  There's a cute little twist where we find out that Chad is not how he appears, and the revelation wraps up 90 minutes of tons of fun horror kills and every cliche in the book.  Loved this flick and can't wait to watch it again!