My apologies, the last couple of days I have not really been trying my best here. It’s been a bit of a tricky weekend to be honest, but everything is back on track now. Well, that’s enough of my gabbing. It’s time for some good old nuttiness.
Always watch the road, dumbass.
Six ‘troubled’ teenagers returning with their pastor from Bible Camp take shelter at a dilapidated trailer park after their bus crashes in the rain. Unfortunately, the trailer park isn’t as abandoned as it first seems. Bloodshed – and country music – ensues.
Is the first crazy undead redneck movie? Of course it’s not. It is currently my favourite though. And for a supposed grindhouse-y B-movie, it is surprisingly well made by director Steven Goldmann, from a script by Timothy Dolan. Goldmann’s day job since the early 90’s has been directing music videos (according to his Wikipedia page, he’s done 174) mostly for country stars like Faith Hill, Alan Jackson and Trace Adkins. Adkins himself shows up here as the devil himself, as well as contributing a song for the end credits.
Cap’n Spoiler says, “Yarrgh, here be spoilers”
The flick opens with a 15-minute prologue set in 1981 that would make a pretty fair short film all by itself, but it also sets up our cast of soon-to-be-undead rednecks as the young and beautiful Norma makes a hasty deal with the devil in exchange for a semi-automatic shotgun, and takes her revenge on her fellow residents who just accidentally killed her boyfriend and have been steadily ruining her life for years. Jumping forward to 2008, we’re introduced to Pastor Lewis and his six young charges. If I had one complaint about this film, it would be the lack of any kind of development in these characters. They are basically just tropes dropped in to be grist to the mill. That’s their sole purpose in the film, yes, but even a tiny little bit of background would not have gone amiss. Even their names are only really mentioned once, in passing. There’s the goth one, the wussy one, the shoplifting horny one, the two who can’t stop having sex, and the overweight druggy one who will give head in a truck stop toilet for a noseful of coke. Admittedly though, she does get to be part of what is possibly the funniest amputation scene I have ever had the good fortune to witness. Seriously, it’s a blast. Unfortunately this lack of context for the kids kinda blows the ending a little, since Norma only spares [FUCKING YARRRRRGH!!!! – Cap’n] the last survivor because she reminds her of herself when she was young and alive, but this comes completely out of the blue as far as this character is concerned. The flick is barely 90 minutes long as it is; another five or six wouldn’t have hurt.
You can stand down now, Cap’n. Spoilers be gone.
I wouldn’t be giving much away by saying the plot liberally borrows from (or is “inspired by”) Herschell Gordon Lewis’ 1964 masterpiece 2000 Maniacs! except here it’s just a trailer park instead of a whole town. Actually, the film is adapted from a comic book series published by Imperium Comics, so I guess they’re the ones who are the Lewis fans. The style of the story and artwork can be traced all the way back to the old EC Comics of the thirties (think Tales From The Crypt). It’s really great stuff, and the filmmakers have done well bringing that style to life, right down to the blackly comedic tone of the banter between all the undeadnecks. I just made that word up; do you think it’ll catch on? The effects work is mostly good, if a little cheesy in places, but the fact that all the action takes place after dark makes a lot of it kind of difficult to see. Whether the makeups on all the other trailer park residents would have held up in plain view remains to be seen, although we do get some really good looks at Norma’s face, or lack thereof.
Speaking of Norma, Nichole Hiltz does a really good job bringing her to unlife. She is the most fully realised character in the film, in fact she’s the only character with any sort of arc, but Hiltz gives her the full range from innocent high-schooler, to vengeful young woman, to evil seductress zombie-type-lady. For a movie of this type, it’s a hell of a performance. The rest of the cast do what they can, but none of them have anywhere near as much to work with. It’s always nice for a movie nerd like me to see guys like Tracey Walter on screen though, billed here as “Ancient Trucker”. For all you normal people out there, he was The Joker’s henchman, Bob in Tim Burton’s Batman and he crops up all over the place in B-movies like this, as well as getting the odd line or two in larger productions. For a musician with a fairly small acting CV, Adkins doesn’t embarrass himself as El Diablo. The portrayal is actually quite cool, and very fitting of the country aesthetic. If you put a devil like this up against Ghost Rider for example, that might be something worth watching.
WTF Sunday is brought to you this week, as always, by Netflix* though I reckon this movie is one that I would consider buying, depending on the extras.
Finally, as a wise man once said, there are very few problems that cannot be solved by the liberal application of duct tape. The list of problems that can be solved this way now includes dismemberment after stepping on a landmine, provided you are already a redneck zombie that is. Don’t say you never learn nothing here at 5-Word.
*Still waiting for that sponsorship deal, fellas.