Sunday, October 4, 2009

HORROR EPICS DOUBLE FEATURE: Wrong Turn (2003) & Wrong Turn 2: Dead End (2007)

I used to call both of these movies The Woods Have Eyes before I found out that there was already a movie by that name. In which case, I wondered if that movie could be any less original than either of the Wrong Turn movies, both of which shamelessly plunder ideas from classic horror flicks of old—including but not limited to Deliverance, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Evil Dead, and Cape Fear. One even lifts a character’s LOOK from The Rocky Horror Picture Show, but shit howdy, these movies sure are fun to watch! Since I personally like the woods more than the desert, I was definitely game for two more entries in the hillbilly horror genre revived by, of course, the remake of The Hills Have Eyes. Both movies are concerned with the premise of city folks who obviously think they’re light years ahead of the rest of the world…until they find themselves trapped in the forest with no way out. Every rule they’ve set for themselves regarding survival in the urban environment they’re used to is thrown out the window once trees and a lack of cell phone reception gets thrown into the mix. But these movies aren’t about yuppie fuckheads discovering their primal side or anything. If you look at these movies a certain way, they are almost certainly about the backwoods mountain men defending their turf from these city slickers, who would almost certainly think that putting something like an IKEA in the middle of the woods would be a good idea. None of the main characters are particularly likeable, and are all attractive in a conventional, normal person sort of way…which is all the more satisfying for people like me who want to see them die a horrible death.

Wrong Turn
becomes apparent when some self-absorbed loser in a baby blue Mustang takes his eyes off the woodsy back road and goes plowing into a wayward Range Rover. The group in the SUV is consoling a friend of theirs who’s just been dumped by her boyfriend and then decided that an adventure in the forest was the way to get her mind off things. The Mustang’s driver is a med school graduate, which not only means he’s on the verge of making a whole lot of money, but he can also dress his own wounds after being shot in the leg for trying to play Mister Big Hero later
on. Rebound Girl is totally set up with Mister Right and doesn’t even know it, but unfortunately all of her future wedding participants get picked off one by one as food for a group of hungry backwoods mutants. The most obnoxious girl of the bunch gets decapitated in particularly awesome fashion, I must say. The message is clear: being there for your friend is a crock of shit, especially when it’s a girlfriend getting dumped. Some of the things that go on in this movie defy logic…for instance; do you really expect me to believe that three scared shitless urban twenty-something morons can jump around in trees like Tarzan? I don’t think so, but ultimately this is a fun ride that might actually be more enjoyable than The Hills Have Eyes remake from a few years later. The mutants look better, if anything else. Most of our protagonists are relative nobodies, but you might recognize Jeremy Sisto from a few TV shows like “Six Feet Under,” and Eliza Dushku was on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” as well. Kevin Zegers and Lindy Booth both resurfaced in the Dawn of the Dead remake a year later.



Wrong Turn 2: Dead End has a few things to live up to. I would guess that in order for it to do so, the people who made the sequel felt that the key word should be “more.” More people to kill. More mutated hillbillies to do the killing. More satire. And by god, more gore. The first five minutes are a dandy when bitchy blonde Kimberly Caldwell from “American Idol” gets sliced in half after hitting a mutant with her rental car. I heard that a screening of this very scene at a Fangoria convention received a rightful standing ovation. Bloody hilarity ensues from there. Henry Rollins plays an ex-Marine colonel facilitating a survival contest being filmed in the woods for reality TV. I know some of you groan at the idea of Rollins being involved in anything you watch or listen to, but rest assured that the Hank brings the funny in spades. The show comes complete with a jackass director clad in a Battle Royale T-shirt, which isn’t a painfully obvious nod or anything at all. No sir. The survival contest becomes horrifyingly real when the mutants launch their attack. They’re more explicitly referred to as “hillbillies” this time around and there’s a whole clan of them too. In fact, the director apparently felt that he didn’t have a large enough hillbilly clan, but the numbers seem adequate to me. Most of them look less like mutants than they do regular ol’ inbreeds, which I really liked. Isn’t it scarier when you can see the killers being real people, rather than comic book mutated monsters? The best part is the fact that you’re not immediately sure which people will survive this ordeal, but I know at least one might come as a surprise to some of you. Part 3 is coming out on October 20th, but it doesn’t really look that great from what I can tell. We shall see.

Remember that neither of these movies do a thing to break new ground in horror films. Even Quentin Tarantino would probably roll his eyes at how many classics are outright ripped off here. Neither of the Wrong Turn movies have a right to be any good, but I’ll be damned if I’m not going to tell you to add them to the top of your NetFlix queue immediately. When it comes to today’s uber-generic horror movies, these two are some of my favorites.


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