Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The Classic American Figure of Death(?!) : Marco Polo (2008)

Marco Polo (2008)
Rating: ***
Starring: Christina DeRosa, Bryce Wagoner, Antonio D. Charity

Marco Polo was a Venetian merchant traveler who learned of the mercantile trade from his father and uncle, Niccolò and Maffeo. He will later join them in 1269 to embark on an epic journey to Asia, returning 24 years later to find Venice at war with Genoa. Marco was imprisoned and dictated his stories to a cellmate, who in turn recorded it and used the stories for a book that introduced Europeans to Asia. Marco was later released in 1299, became a wealthy merchant, married, had three children and then died in 1324, buried in the church of San Lorenzo in Venice.

With a life story like that, where does it say that Marco Polo makes a great slasher villain?

Apparently, you just have to twist the truth all the way around to do just that as, in the world of 2008's Marco Polo, the man was actually a victim of a savage mutiny back at 1324, when his own crew decided to torment him and his family. His eyes were thumbed out, forcing him to listen to the rape and deaths of his wife and children, maddening him to the point of killing some of his attackers before being murdered himself.

An odd take on alternate history but a passable campfire story for this movie's present day teenage campers to pass around. However, unknown to all of them, the angry spirit of Marco Polo is frighteningly real, haunting the very woods they are staying at and possessing a random masked hunter earlier that day. Inevitably, they are soon hunted by the deranged Polo, machete and axe at hand, and the only way for these kids to make out of the forest is to either fight back, or die in pieces.

I wouldn't be lying much calling Marco Polo your basic backwoods slasher because it did play as one down to the very tropes. The only difference between this title to most other forest massacres, other than fictionalizing a historical figure into a savage madman, is that the characters were given enough realistic and engaging personalities to at least make their interactions and conversations more interesting than one-liner gags and cheesy woozits, thus rooting for them to survive ain't all that impossible. And with the kind of direction this movie pulled off, much like how the earlier Friday the 13th entries laid low on the bloodshed around the first act to give the kids enough exposure, there's no denying Marco Polo's script and plot works really well, particularly when it also played around with the pecking order. (The nicest girl dies early, for one. Not a pretty sight but all for horror, I guess.)

When the killings finally happen, though, things got damn ugly in the right ways; much to my delight, we got gruesome grues in the reddest and splashiest means possible, done away with fairly great practical and make-up effects, with one unexpected bisection being my personal fave. A few of these murders did get a tad silly (death by a nailed rake handle?) but the nasty surprises and unexpected turns made them horrifically fun and horror hound pleasing.

The only problem I got with this movie is that the killer committing them did not impressed me that much despite having a curious backstory. He has the hulking menace thing just fine, but I sincerely find his presence forgettable, lacking any real personality other than "be big and strong" and his overall appearance just doesn't cut it for me. (Camouflage suit and a paintballer's mask. Doesn't say homicidal Venetian to be honest...) In fact, why exactly was this movie slasherfying Marco Polo? The killer here barely did anything 1300s-related like spew out old timey one-liners or wear old Venetian gear, so the ghost possessing the killer meatbag could have been easily replaced by any other angry vengeful spirit. My guess was the producers were trying to do their own take on  "game-based" slasher movies like T.A.G. The Assasination Game or Hide and Go Shriek, evident with the understandably underused gimmick wherein the killer only attacks those who answer "Polo" whenever he ghostly calls out "Marco". I recall this was only used twice in the movie so it didn't really add much to the story and it's honestly silly. But hey, so long as blood and guts be rolling down like rivers, they could have been gimmicky with other kiddie games like balloon volleyball for all I care.

Weird stratagem and odd choice of killer aside, Marco Polo still delivers the goods and more as a forest-bound dead teenager flick and should earn a lookie look for that. It's not doing anything groundbreaking as a slasher but, again, the characters are a decent bunch and the terror they go through is enough to entertain a fair horror fan. It can be a bit cheesy on occasions but what slasher movie hasn't? I say give this one a try should the opportunity ever come and enjoy the horror that is the vengeful Venetian merchant "Marco Polo".

1 boy strangled
1 female brained with a club
1 female killed
1 male shot with a shotgun
1 dog shot with a shotgun
1 male gets a thrown axe to the head
1 female beheaded with an axe
1 male stabbed with a machete, eyes gouged
1 female had her neck punctured with a nailed rake handle, bled to death
1 male chopped in half with a machete, shot on the head
1 male gets a thrown machete to the chest
1 male hacked with an axe, shot dead
2 females skewered with a spike
1 male stabbed on the back with a spike
Total: 15

Saturday, June 25, 2016

The Killers Within: Kill Theory (2009)

Kill Theory (2009) (AKA "Killers", "Last Resort")
Rating: ***
Starring: Don McManus, Ryanne Duzich, Teddy Dunn

From a first glance, Kill Theory sounds like your typical teen slasher fodder: we got a group of 8 twenty-somethings partying at a secluded lakeside cabin in the woods, only to be attacked by a killer with a rather cool looking hatchet-hunting knife weapon later that night. The catch here is, the killer isn't gonna do all the dirty work as he has a theory that anybody will do unspeakable acts just to save themselves, a belief stemmed from a personal incident which involved him letting some friends die for his own survival. If the teens do not comply, he will kill them as punishment, thus leading to some of these supposedly close-knit friends to go homicidal at one another in the most brutal fashion.

If it's to say anything about the plot, it can be described as what would SAW (2003) or Battle Royale have been if they were moderately budgeted teen slashers. And as many hack'n slash titles out there, Kill Theory is guilty of the very cliches that identifies slashers, such as killing the first ones to be shown sexually active and have the whole massacre happen in a dead zone where the nearest help is a mile away and cellphone signals do not exist. Of course, the little twist on how the massacre will go down did give the movie a little more flavor than the standardized backwoods kill-a-thon, though how well this concept was executed may depend on perspectives.

At first, the characters started barely fleshed out, kinda in lined with the usual two to one dimensional meat victims. The further the story goes however, the more the script tried to develop some sense of depth in them as we soon find out what exactly goes through their heads and how some of their pasts are affecting their situation. Unfortunately, the story just had to use the shallowest (if not overused) of reasons, pretty much the kind of motives one would get from your typical B-grade slasher (one was cheating on their lover, another was teased too much. The basics) so this somewhat made the supposedly intriguing will-they-or-will-they-not? element of the killings a tad challenging to follow as not only it did little to ensure who exactly we are supposed to root for, but it may also did little to ground us into caring for the characters at all.

A slight misstep for a potentially good twist on the slasher formula if I may say so. To be fair, some of the roles were played pretty well as a good bunch of the actors were skilled enough to evoke pity for their characters. It is just that the script could have used some more variety for the the teens' reasons for the killings than, well, a bad break-up or being called fat. If they were a little less banal, maybe they would have made their plight more engaging than what it is now.

While this may lead to some of us not all caring on who lives or dies, Kill Theory at least attempted to give something in return for our patience as the killings come in shockingly and, thankfully, gorily as all means of back stabbing, both figuratively and literally, are ever present. (In full practical and make-up effects no less) As expected for a killer who wanted to be in control, they even have the place rigged with some traps and have them somewhat anticipated the layout and possible decisions the kids may make. How exactly did the killer knew or prepared all of this may raise a few eyebrows during the movie but there is a really decent twist in the end that kinda answers some questions.

I do recall seeing this as early as my college years, which in turn was my "slasher renaissance" as I was re-discovering my love for the slice-and-dice flicks, and I believe I wasn't all that impressed with Kill Theory, nor did I disliked it actually. After a few occasional re-watches throughout the latter years, I finally came up with a conclusion that Kill Theory is just an okay, if not average slasher with an interesting twist on the killing spree. I may sound unimpressed by this but truth be told, whike it may lack the right execution to make it as memorable as it wanted to be, I just have to commend it for trying!

If you want something more twisty and interesting for your slasher crave, I will recommend this tiny gem.

2 males and 1 female dropped to their deaths
1 female gets a throat cut from a dagger, carved to death
1 male shot on the head with a rifle
1 female drowned
1 male impaled on the eye with a firepoker
1 male had his face pulped with a shovel
1 female strangled
1 male knifed on the gut
Total: 10

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The Pagan Pit: Shtolnya (2006)

Shtolnya (Штольня) (Ukraine, 2006) (AKA "The Pit")
Rating: **1/2
Starring: Svitlana Artamonova, Mykola Kartzev, Pavlo Li

It's good. I want to like this movie a bit more, mind you, but I can't. Just can't.

In this Ukrainian production, five students from an archaeological institute join their professor in his dig to uncover some precious artifacts left behind by a group of ancient pagan cultists. However, what these kids find instead is a locked entrance to a series of underground chambers, which may or may not be the final resting place of their aforementioned pagans, and it soon escalates to them entering it by the following morning when their professor goes missing and the chamber's entrance is now unlocked.

With hopes of finding their professor there as well as see if the old tales of hidden pagan artifacts are true, their expedition into the chambers proves to be a fatal mistake as not only do they find themselves lost in its labyrinth-esque turns, but someone appears to have taken an interest on keeping these kids from getting out alive.

I have my share of respected and loved underground survival movies like 2001's The Hole, 2006's The Descent and 2007's Catacombs, and Shtolnya actually looks like a promising foreign take on this shindig as it has the setting and some of the set-pieces workable at a point. In fact, the chambers in this movie, with its maze-like paths, rat-infested wells and dangerous debris lying around, are well comparable to what Tobe Hooper's The Funhouse did to its titular carnival attraction, making it an effective sort-of secondary villain with its trap doors, secret entrances and dangerous props. Further making the survivalist tone of the plot work were some selected scenes that grounded how dire the teens' situation had become, such as an accident ruining their makeshift map, a cellphone call wasted on a non-responsive receiver and one moment when they nearly got an outside help, most of these nearly leading to the group going at each other's throats.

I personally believe Shtolnya would have been a better movie if it focused purely on the teenager's struggle to get out alive, or at least keeping their sanity straight. They might be portraying your classic horror meat but the casts are surprisingly layered and grown to be more likeable the further the movie goes. But (surprisingly coming from me), the movie's attempt to be one-part teen slasher may have knocked it back as an entertainment piece since the slice-and-dice antics look completely forced. And the reason for this? Most of the deaths here are accidental, if not incidental, and the one kill the supposed killer did was caused, rather than personally committed. (As in they startled a victim into tripping a death trap. Not the best way to win our attention, killer) We are only made aware of this villain's presence all throughout with their nasty habit of smearing pagan symbols on the chamber walls with the blood of the dead, but this just made our antagonist look more opportunistic rather than intense like any real movie slasher should be, thus further making the "killer's" inclusion all the more pointless and odd.

This didn't stop the film from playing around with the slasher act, however, as the final third did try to feature a more hands-on take on the killer's terror and we got this supposed twist reveal to their identity. Nonetheless, their inability to really do some personal damage and with all the good bulk of the movie focusing on the survival aspect of its story seem to have watered down its impact. It's a shame, really, since the movie's claustrophobic backdrop and generous amount of darkness would have given Shtolnya a better treatment to their attempt to mix in slasher horror.

Nevertheless, Shtolnya is still a gorgeous and atmospheric offer from Ukraine that deserves a little praise for its low brow attempt to create something different for the slasher/survival subgenre. While it may need more work in merging the two film types proportionately, or at least tried harder in making its slasher portions more recognizable, it's gritty premises and challenged characters should provide enough foreign teen horror goodness to sit through and enjoy.

1 male crushed by falling rocks
1 female attacked by rats, dies from shock
1 male shot with a rifle
1 male electrocuted
1 male ran through with a javelin, immolated in explosion
Total: 5

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Backwoods Face Lift: Scarred (2005)

Scarred (2005)
Rating: **
Starring: Brad Ashten, Julian Berlin, David Austin

It goes without saying but I will say it anyway: some movies are obscured for a good reason.

Scarred is one of those mid-2000s no budget horror entries that tries a tad too hard to be the best in the gig and, granted the plot did sound like a fair run through familiar trappings, I honestly can say that their efforts could have been better.

The movie begins with your typical slasher trapping of a couple itching to do a sloppy make-out session. Boyfriend drank too much beer so he left his girlfriend alone in the woods to hurl, inevitably leading to her being attacked by a feral woman with a supposedly skinless face.

We then shift our focus to a family driving to a dense woodland area wherein the father hopes to make peace between his children and his new (and younger) wife. Tagging along them is the daughter's bestfriend coz trysting reasons and bodycount, and as soon as the group settles for camp, they are randomly visited by a young park ranger who is patrolling the area that night and spontaneously decided to share with the family an old local legend of a faceless woman ripping people's faces off so she could wear them.

Of course in this type of flicks, the legend turns out to be true and the same faceless woman from the opening has now targeted the family for her maniacal face obsession and soon picking them off one by one.

For its worth, there are scenes in Scarred that effectively capture the exploitative feel of the plot such as the killer's origin told via campfire tale and one scene wherein the killer forces herself unto a disabled victim while she wore his dead girlfriend's face. Gore is okay whenever it is present (pretty much just limited to flayed faces, to be frank) and the fact that the production placed a family over our standardized selection of disposable teens tells that they were attempting something a tad more tragic and irreplaceable.

It is these little dark moments that should have helped keep Scarred as sickly twisted as possible. Unfortunately, it's hardly enough to step up the movie's standards as a mediocre delivery to what we already know about the things that go stab in the night.

With a length of 76 minutes, Scarred decently paces itself for its effort to build character and some sense of dread, but with the villain revealed early in the opening and with the lead casts doing some questionable and cheesy hokums even during the times the killer made her presence known, the little attempts to be scary, intense and grim are undeniably hobbling to keep up. It wasn't long before the story starts to tick down all the known slasher cliches dos and don'ts, leading to a half-tame killing spree, a killer who's overworking her feral-ness to the point it's hilarious, even more dumb things that lead to people dying and an eventual last act that devolves to the characters screaming, clumsily surviving and (dig this) seemingly attempting to befriend the feral woman?! (Oh, you can smell the fondue all the way here!)

It's hardly a commendable title but I cannot say that I didn't enjoy my time with Scarred, nevertheless. I can tell that the film has ideas. Good ones. Just a bit restrained in the budget department and the talents involved. I wouldn't be surprised if it was these shortcomings that had this film hardly being brought up. If you do get a chance to see this, I will say it is best to keep the expectations low and prepare for a wave of Gouda. It's not good, but you could do worse.

1 male had his throat cut with a hunting knife
1 male knifed to death (flashback)
1 female knifed on the gut (flashback)
1 male sets himself ablaze (flashback)
1 male found with a throat cut
1 female had her face flayed off-camera, stabbed with a javelin
1 female had her face flayed off-camera, shot with a rifle
1 female had her face carved off with a hunting knife, killed
1 male found with his throat cut
Total: 9

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Yesterday, June 15th, I love...

The Crooked Man from The Conjuring 2

With Mr. Wilkins coming in second~

Wish She Could Be. Part of The Slasher World: Nymph (2014)

Nymph (Serbia/Montenegro, 2014) (AKA "Killer Mermaid", "Mamula")
Rating: *1/2
Starring: Kristina Klebe, Franco Nero, Natalie Burn

Mermaids in a slasher movie. Things are bound to get weird.

In this cheap modern Euro-horror, we start off with a montage of a random couple enjoying a Mediterranean vacation in Montenegro before getting nekkid and be nasty next to a dock. That is until the boyfriend suddenly hears a faint singing, entrancing and forcing him to dive into the waters and apparently get killed by whatever was making the tune. His girlfriend panics, tries to save him by calling out to whoever can help, which is unfortunately answered by a guy donning heavy black boots and wielding an anchor. As you might have guessed, the guy kills her instead and drags her body to the unknown.

We then turn our attention to a pair of American girls meeting up with an old friend of theirs and his wife, also at Montenegro. They do the typical sight-seeing and boating, as well as befriending a rather lively local who is willing to hang out with them and guide them through some of the more obscure hot spots, including an abandoned prison island known as Mamula.

Ignoring warnings from concerned locals (as slasher victims would), they venture off into the prison anyways, only to discover that not only there’s a maniac skulking around, throwing away hacked-up human parts in a well, but inside said well appears to be a trapped girl. As the killer finally notices them, the group must now find a way to survive and escape. But what of the mysterious girl? Is she worth saving? Or is she something much more than what she seems?

With a title like “Nymph” (Or “Killer Mermaid” in some releases. Really guys? “Killer Mermaid”?), what do you think?

Having monsters in a slasher flick is old hat with genre titles like Alien (1979), The Boogens (1981), Night of the Demon (1981), Silver Bullet (1984), and Pumpkinhead (1988), just among the many already existing prior to this movie. But unlike these films, Nymph took a slight turn on the approach and almost literally have two kinds of films existing together without completely merging.

Despite being the titular creature, the nymph (or, ugh, Killer Mermaid) here was more of a climactic twist reveal, being the (obvious) motive for the film’s slasher's killings. After that, the movie tries to turn itself into a monster flick with the survivors attempting to get to the mainland without being attacked by the mermaid. It would have been alright if it wasn't the last 20 minutes of the movie (and a good dose of that wasted on an exposition concerning the mermaid, the killer and their relationship) making this hardly enough the reason to have the movie be titled after the creature. (Her presence was hinted around some of the slasher bits, though. So I guess that had to count for something?)

This being mentioned, a large chunk of the plot is pure hack-and-slash antics with the killer being both a hunter and a butcher, prowling the night for victims he could turn into mermaid chow. Said victims, a small group of 20s somethings, are also still the dumb slaughterings-to-be who could have escaped their predicament if they just listened. To. The creepy old guy.

It’s nothing that exciting to be frank; not only do we have a small probable kill count from the gang, but the pacing tends to draw out with all the expositions, people walking and the killer stalking. The murders are not that imaginative, shocking, or memorable for that matter as well, something a slasher flick should try to avoid unless they have a compellingly powerful story to tell instead. (And last time I checked, mermaids are not that compelling)

The film ends with a cliffhanger involving more mermaids and a last minute murder that was a little shocking in nature (Read. “Little”) but predictable, leading to an end product that is an undeniably uninspired horror quickie that would have worked better as a horror short.

So was there anything good to come out of Nymph at all? Well, apart from decent looking actors and Franco Nero being here, not much actually.

1 male killed underwater
1 female hacked through the neck with an anchor
1 male hacked to death with an anchor
1 female hacked through the neck with an anchor
1 male found clawed on the head
1 female drowned
1 male dragged under the water, drowned
1 female hacked with a spear
1 male hacked on the head with an anchor
Total: 9

Monday, June 13, 2016

Death By Rusty Nail: Joy Ride 2: Dead Ahead (2008) and Joyride 3: Roadkill (2014) Double Bill Review

Back all the way in the late 90s and early 2000s, teen horror seems to have expanded from cheap slasher flicks and made it as far as influencing werewolf movies (Ginger Snaps), scifi (The Faculty) and even found footage horror. (The Blair Witch Project) So it wasn't too long before we get teen psychological thrillers and I do recall a good amount of them from my childhood such as Fear (1996), The Skulls (2000) and, the film that started today's covers, Joy Ride (2001).

Now despite its video and cable-based cult fave status, I only find Joy Ride as an "okay" thriller, obviously influenced by better films such as Spielberg's Duel (1971) and Robert Harmon's The Hitcher (1986) but hardly doing much for its own other than relying less on actual bloodletting with a more focused direction on tension, and introducing to us a creepy and demented trucker named Rusty Nail, a nearly invisible presence save for his cool voice ala CB radio. It's clever on a level but not enough to win me over as a fan, though enough to at least recognize the movie's existence.

This being said, I've been following this strange series out of curiosity and I have to say, it is speaking to me quite differently per entry.

Joy Ride 2: Dead Ahead (US/Canada, 2008)
Rating: **1/2
Starring: Nicki Aycox, Nick Zano, Laura Jordan

While still holding on to its psychological roots, Dead Ahead is a Direct to Video follow-up that tries to do things differently: unlike the first Joy Ride wherein Rusty Nail was mostly a disembodied voice and only revealed in the flesh during a few scenes at the climax, this sequel decided to give Rusty a more hands-on approach to some of his terrorizing, all the while still playing the mind games he is known for.

For this entry, some young adults are driving to Las Vegas for a bachelor party only to get themselves lost and walking on foot after their car breaks down in the middle of a desert. In their travel, they find a seemingly abandoned house with an unusually unspoiled Chevy Chevelle parked inside, which they decide to "borrow" from the owner in hopes of driving it out to town and get some help.

Unfortunately for them, the owner of the house is none other than our killer trucker, Rusty Nail (Mark Gibbon), and he is obviously pissed that somebody just stole his ride. (Why not? It's a friggin' Chevy Chevelle!) In his typical fashion, Rusty somehow finds the kids and kidnaps one of them, using the boy as the bait and prize for a series of sadistic games he will be playing with the rest.

For a good run, Dead Ahead sticks as closely to the tone of the original as possible, delivering a good sense of suspense and dread as the group is soon forced to do extreme measures to get their friend back including severing a stranger's finger and walking across a group of drugged-up and possibly homophobic truckers cross-dressed.

However, as fun as these tests and games are, it is noticeable that the spirit of the original was waiving away for other added elements, mainly a stronger emphasis on our anti-villain as well as an actual bodycount and some torture scenes, more made obvious with the victims here being more akin to your stereotyped slasher meat and hardly doing much to develop themselves as characters despite the series of danger they're put through. In fact, the cast have this cheesy B-flick feel to them, which in turn leads to a cheaper (if not completely absent) atmosphere that itself struggling to work seeing there's no actual mystery on who is on the other side of the CB radio, logic is barely considered (Mr. Nail survives an impossible explosion. How?) and the killings are too over-the-top. (Death by razor wallet chain, anyone?)

Strangely, I don't mind this as much as the next cult fan does, considering the fact that I am used to the cheese and gory kill count. There is no hiding that Dead Ahead is a step down in almost every aspect compared to the original, but it didn't stop its producers to do the best they can to catch up with then's resurgence of gore films. In turn, I admire some of the effort; as mentioned, the tricky mind games are still present and may just be as workable as the ones from the first, and the added bonus of slasher-esque murders, though looking a tad weird at times, is a welcome element for my book.

Not the definitive example of a great thriller/slasher hybrid, but a fair one nonetheless.

1 female gets her head caught on a truck window, decapitated against a trailer
1 male had his jaw sliced off with a razor wallet chain
1 female ran over with a truck
1 male impaled through the head with a metal rod
Total: 4

Joy ride 3: Roadkill (2014)
Rating: ***
Starring: Ken Kirzinger, Jesse Hutch, Benjamin Hollingsworth

And continuing this franchise further into the slasher melting pot is this 2014 entry, Joy Ride 3: Roadkill. Now, this is where I believe the big wigs behind Fox Home Entertainment just threw their arms in the air and said "Fuck it!" as the plot seems hardly attempting anything at this point. Save, of course, a generous slice of gory killings.

Rusty Nail is back once again (now played by Freddy vs Jason's Ken Kirzinger coz why not?) and, for this run, young and rowdy racers will be feeling his wrath when they decided to play a little joke on him while on their way to a road rally with their souped-up race car.  Of course, our demented trucker didn't take their stunt too kindly, leading to him kidnapping the lead driver's girlfriend and starting another brutal killing spree that have these kids losing more than just a mere race.

More or less, Roadkill tries to be fun and it succeeds at some point; there are some decent car stunts at work in this movie but the opening is just a hoot of a starter, a neat SAW-esque piece involving a chained druggie couple, a speeding truck, and a stunt reminiscent of the Ship's Mast scene from Quentin Tarantino's "slasher" Death Proof. The rest of the killings are also gory enough to keep the blood and gore hounds at bay, looking like as if our trucker learned a thing or two from the torture porn era as a good amount of his murders have a sadistic death trap feel to them.

In turn, Rusty Nail is in full-on slasher mode as he no longer hides in the shadows to play his games, personally taking out the meat trash with an array of trucker oriented demises, all the while spatting out cryptic liners and surviving impossible demises. (Think a bonafide Freddy Kreuger/Michael Myers hybrid)

With the killings and the killer being the high points of the movie, Roadkill works better if it stuck to the slasher conformity through and through. Again, it did a good job at that (hell, they even included a classic doomsayer who warns them not to go across Slaughter Alley for obvious reasons), but its little attempts to build up tension over our characters may have knocked a few good points back. For one, there were moments that made the casts likable at a level as these scenes have them look and feel like close friends; some worked, others didn't, but the net result still leads to them devolving into screaming idiots who make dumb decisions after dumb decisions. This wouldn't be a terrible thing if the killings occur to dispatch them at a momentum, but the direction Roadkill have slows down in the middle of the run, spreading out the murders apart from one another while leaving little to nothing interesting happening in between as the plot crawls further to a half lethargic finale.

It was as if the movie was still trying to capture the psychological horror of the first, but with the kind of characters, direction, focus and, surprisingly, cheese Roadkill have (a website designed to trace back plate numbers to their owners? Only in a cheesy slasher (and the deep web), gentlemen!), the Hitchcockian trope's way long gone at this point. Still, I find this an admirable effort and I cannot dismiss it as I did enjoyed this a lot better than the last sequel. It's so far from the original in terms of tone that I can't help but see this as a standalone movie, penned and directed by Declan O'Brien, who is noteworthy for cooking up Wrong Turn 3 to and should explain the gruesome grue. The production also looks a lot better compared to Dead Ahead, though there are some editing nitpicks (I think I saw the camera man's shadow at the opening!) and audio concerns regarding its soundtrack and score.

Overall, I think I prefer Roadkill the most from the Joy Ride franchise as my entertainment piece. It's manageable and watchable despite its slow moments and torture scenes, a new addition to my steady number of guilty pleasures!

1 male mangled under a truck
1 female mangled to bits under a truck
1 male had his face shredded through a truck engine's fan
1 male ran through with a truck, immolated in car crash
1 male crushed to death with chained rail spikes
1 male had his head crushed with a jack lever
1 female crushed in half against a bridge's bracing
Total: 7

And there you have Joy Ride 2: Dead Ahead and Joy Ride 3: Roadkill! One movie transitioning from psychological teen horror to teen slasher, and another movie fully transitioned into the bodycounting side. Not the brightest move to make in terms of franchising a potential road thriller but, just as some people still watch the new Puppet Master sequels despite how God-awful cheap they mostly are, or how some kids out there will probably scream their parents' ears off if they don't buy or rent the latest Alpha and Omega movie, these two sequels will still find an audience. Will there be a chance for another Joy Ride sequel in the future? Hopefully. Hopefully not. Whatever may be the case, I'm just hoping they would explain why in each movie, Rusty Nail gets leaner, fitter and taller!

Until then...
Here's Brain-Damaged Barry wishing you a good ride!