Monday, March 23, 2015

Literature Gone Deader: "Kids Get Dead" Double Bill Review

Kids Go To The Woods...Kids get Dead (2009)
Rating: **
Starring: Leah Rudick, Andrew Waffenschmidt, Joseph Campellone 

Presented in a midnight movie fashion where a young hot hostess "Candy Adams" cuts in and out to give her insights of the film, Kids Get Dead (not a typo. I'm unsure what they were trying to accomplish with this vocabulary) is a throwback to the halcyon days of 80s backwood slashers with a few dabs of 90s self-awareness.

The 80s backwoods slasher-part is basically an "80s backwoods slasher"; as the title suggests, teens go to a backwoods cabin to celebrate their friend's birthday, who in turn brought along her horror-obsessed younger brother who spends the entire weekend reading a slasher novel, which is suspiciously also titled as "Kids Go To The Woods...Kids Get Dead".

This is where the 90s self-aware part comes in. Sort of. As a horror nerd, younger brother gets his geek on with the book he is reading, much awkwardly when he is the only one in the whole pack who finds it exciting. But the further he reads (and the more "kids get dead" under the hands of a gas mask-wearing killer), the more he begins to notice the similarities of what is happening in real life with the events written in the book. Though one may wonder why he didn't just skip a few chapters ahead and beat the killer by reading what he'll do next, this is the only novelty Kids Get Dead is willing to offer.

Very little is done to explain this magical book so, in the end, we are still stuck with a routine slasher where gore is bright red and bodies pile up in a decent momentum. The killer does look pretty badass with his gas mask and air-tanks but, just like the prophesying novel, not much was given to explain his motive and origin, and he is simply there to slaughter some partying teens.

Casts are paint-by-number cliches, though a majority of them are unlikable due to being plain, annoying, an asshole, or an odd combination of the three. Thankfully they were done away in gory fashion with much sensibilities of that of an 80s backwoods slasher, so all's not lost.

Sad to say, as much as I want to at least like Kids Get Dead, the movie has very little to offer save the decent gore effects and a promising yet easily ditched idea of literature paralleling reality. Add the lack of any characters to root for and the annoying and unfunny interludes with the hostess that served no purpose but to give the film both a running time and tribute feel to midnight horror shows, the film deserves a viewing just for the sake of curiosity or if you're a slasher completist.

1 female stabbed to death with a hunting knife
1 male gets a throat cut with a hunting knife
1 male axed on the head
1 female hacked to death with an axe
1 female stabbed with a hunting knife (dream)
1 male gets a throat cut with a hunting knife
1 female smashed to a mirror, killed with a hunting knife
1 female kicked to a bonfire, face burned
1 female gets a thrown hunting knife to the back
1 male disemboweled with a hunting knife
1 male axed on the chest
1 male got his throat ripped off
1 male gets his head twisted to the back
1 male impaled with a broken shovel handle
Total: 14

Kids Get Dead Part 2: The Kids Get Deader (2014)
Rating: **1/2
Starring: Sam Albertsen, Pawl Bazile, Kathy Biehl

And five years later, The Kids get Deader.

The movie, still presented as a late night horror show hosted by a new, perkier and cheesier Peaches McNeil, picks up a few years after the first as Casey, the lone survivor of a backwoods massacre that took the life of her brother, sets out to find the author of a novel that foretold the killings, Charles Carver, hoping to get some answers.

Upon meeting him, however, she discovers that another novel's been published and Carver has god-like powers somehow, bending reality to torment and hinder her from stopping him. (Think Suther Kane from John Carpenter's cult masterpiece In The Mouth of Madness (1994). If you have no idea what I'm talking about, you are missing a lot as a horror fan.)

All the while, a party is happening on the other side of town, where a lonesome horror geek finds himself caught in not only bullying sluts, beer-jugging idiots and stoned morons, but also a sleek, machete-wielding gas-masked psycho. Will history repeat itself? Or will Casey make it in time to stop the slaughter?

A slight improvement on some levels but, much like the first film, it is still missing some prowess. In typical sequel fashion, the kills are gorier and a lot more elaborate, with some metaphysical reality-bending mumbo-jumbo thrown in that, while generally obscured in favor of teen bodycounting, did hint to have some kind of explanation. Unfortunately, the film still lacks any real sympathetic characters as, though we all can root better for the horror-fan outcast that acts as this entry's secondary lead, the rest of the victims-to-be are plainly characterized as partying and sexcapading idiots who are just begging to be killed. Thankfully, we have another gas-masked killer out to do just that, looking less hunched and more modernized than his last incarnation.

Tone is uneven, sometimes delving into cheesier realms but the movie does have its mean streaks delivered in unforgiving and near-hopeless fashion. Much of this comes from the character Charles Carver, whose power to write anything into reality screams a classic Twilight Zone feel, and too the dread of questioning one's reality in an existential kind of way. This could have gotten better if it wasn't for the budget, but I am willing to overlook this seeing how well the slasher parts and the production were handled at least.

Though I'm still not a fan of cheesy interludes cutting in just when the story was getting good, Kids Get Dead 2 seems to be working into something big and, I have to be honest, it does make it worth looking into. A possible third entry is hinted in the end, but only time can tell on how serious they are with that claim; until then, should you have the time and/or curiosity to look into this series, give the first one a go before jumping into this piece. It's not the best franchise around but it is struggling to be the next big thing to come for dead teenagers films. Lets savor the effort.

1 female hunting knifed on the head
1 male had his groin bitten off, face flayed off with hunting knife
1 male disemboweled with a knife, strangled with his own guts
1 male immolated in car explosion
1 female had her neck broken
2 males gets a double throat slashing with a hunting knife
1 dog thrown dead
1 male ran through the face with a lawnmower
1 male axed on the gut, head stomped
1 male eviscerated with a knife
1 female beheaded with a hunting knife
1 female knifed to death
1 male drowned in a toilet
1 male axed on the chest
1 female knifed on the chest
Total: 16


  1. I got sent the second one for review but lost it : (

    1. Did you look under the coffee mug, buddy? 8Y