Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Last Ride you'll ever Take: Dark Ride (2006)

Dark Ride (2006)
rating: ****
starring: Jamie-Lynn Sigler, Patrick Renna and David Clayton Rogers

Who would have guessed this little title, whose plot doesn't really stray much to the superior Hooper flick The Funhouse, to be this much fun and strong on its own feet?

Sometime during the late 80s, a pair of high school twins decided to visit an old seaside dark ride before it finally closes down, much to the silent dismay of the passive sibling. But with her more aggressive sister constantly taunting her to join, the two went on to the ride, only to find themselves disemboweled by a madman that resides within the ride's mannequins and animatrons.

Moving forward to the present, a group of five college kids are on route to ole New Orleans when, stopping by in a gas stop, one of them was given a flyer of the infamous dark ride's reopening. As one of them just so happens to had grew up from the very town the dark ride is in, the group decided to crash the place and spend the night inside to save money from renting a motel. Along the way, they met a blonde hitchhiker who they picked up and repays them with the ole' magic shrooms.

Upon reaching the fair, the group sneaked in and decided to have fun along the way, and one of them happens to be telling ghosts stories; as it turns out, the killer from the opening, Jonah, was captured no soon after the twins went missing. Placed in psychiatric confinement, Jonah spent the next few years locked up. That is until, a few weeks earlier, two attendants made usual mistake of mocking the wrong loonie; after slapping him with a slab of meat (Jonah's strictly vegan, by the way), our killer made no hesitation to gouge and mutilate the two, and made his way back to the old grind.

And with the kids finally inside the ride, they might as well be Jonah's little throwback into the old foray.

Dark Ride may lack the need to be a smarter, and more original piece of horror film making that many is yearning about, but as a good stroll back to memory lane, it does shines with the same glimmer as those golden years of our favorite subgenre. Giving out a straight face as a slasher flick from the 80s and little of the self-aware, pop culture referencing 90s baby that's light on the blood and more on the intrigue.

It follows the formula, though it did try to do some personal ticks on its own, such as the sex and death cliche wherein here, a fellatio ended in a differently gooey manner as a gal gets beheaded while performing said act, of the fact that every character here is reminiscent of the 80s stereotype casts, though in here, they have a little or more depth that they should be. But of Dark Ride's highlights, the one that stands out the most is that it knows how to handle its kills. It doesn't shy away from the grue, but instead did the proper thing to do such as build-up, suspense and gore when it calls for it, and the said fellatio kill and the now famous "head split", became some of the more memorable kills done in slasherdom, all under the hands of a fairly creepy killer, whose choice of mask symbolically reflects our boogeyman's mental state, factors to had lead Dark Ride a cult fave.

The only flaw I can find here is that, while necessary, the build-up took quite a while before the real deal happens, pretty much the same set of flaws Hooper's The Funhouse suffers from, a film Dark Ride is heavily inspired from. Other than that, the ending itself, while not spoiling much, can be a let down to those looking for a happier ending, rather than an ambiguous gut feel. With all this, it's not hard to wonder why true slasher completists would look back to Hooper's Funhouse. Of course, Hooper's film still stand out the most, and Dark Ride had yet to learn from both its and the former's mistakes, but in terms of delivering everything a slasher fan can enjoy and be familiar with, Dark Ride does the job right, if not all the way.
Why won't anyone call them Ernie? Or Gus?
Slasher fanatics take note, spot this one. May lack true perfection, but it knows what it's doing!

1 female disemboweled
1 female murdered offscreen
1 male flashlight ran through his gut
1 male eye gouged, killed
1 male found dismembered
1 female beheaded with dagger whilst fellating
1 female killed, method not seen
1 male head split in half with sword
1 male hit by a car and thrown unto spikes, impaled
1 male knifed on the gut
total: 10


  1. I guess it's a love-it or loathe-it movie - and I totally loathe it :)

  2. I'm with Maynard on this one - HATED it. ;)