Sunday, April 17, 2022

Terror Tripped and Failed: Terror At Black Tree Forest (2021)

Terror At Black Tree Forest (United Kingdom, 2021)
Rating: 1/2
Starring: Cassandre Wallace, Will Jones and Amanda Bourne

I heard about Terror At Black Tree Forest (2010) all the way back around my college years through the website Retroslashers when it was still running. It's a supposed throwback to backwoods stalk-and-stab types featuring bag-headed killers and, at least from what I read, it's awfully mediocre. Yet, here I am finding out not only did this film somehow got sequels, but it also have a 2021 United Kingdom remake! Well, as of writing this, I've yet to see the first three original Black Tree Forest movies but, after seeing this cinematic disaster, I'm not too keen on seeing any them if the whole thing is going to be THIS bad!

The film opens with a couple looking over a lake, reminiscing about their first meeting and first kiss with some confusion from the two as they remember everything differently. They soon head back to camp, got lost in the woods until dusk and find themselves on the murderous side of a shmuck in a sack mask.

Come the day after and we now follow a group consisting of a Caroline Travers, stoner Molly Wade, goofball dudes Simon St John and Will Andrews, and Jane Mellows, the newest addition to their little pack. They do the usual kids-go-to-the-woods jig of setting up camp, joking around, exploring the surrounding forest, get creeped on by mysterious figures in the background and (wouldn't be a slasher flick without this) telling ghost stories around a campfire. 

As the night goes on, our bag-headed killer eventually starts a good run of killing these people one by one, as these films normally do. Now, see, I wouldn't have any problems with this paint-by-numbers stalk-and-stab approach given that everything else about this film wouldn't be so problematic, but Terror of Black Tree Forest (2021) just have to line itself up a whole load of dumbfuckery; first of which, these are probably the most densely annoying cast of characters I have to sit through as once their numbers start dwindling down, we have one or two of these dumbasses refusing to believe that something is wrong and that all the splattered blood and screaming happening around them are just a part of a prank. Yeah, sure, I would get it if one would see it that way with the first sign of danger, but the writing and direction really milked this plot point. Like really, really milked it, to the matter that most of the dialogue around the third act is just a roundabout of "This joke isn't funny anymore" before someone fires back "It's not a prank" and then gets a response of something like "Yeah, sure". 

I bet if I smash one of these guys' face in with a sledgehammer, another would berate me and my victim about our poor taste of a prank and nags the twitching corpse next to me to stop acting and get up. Oh, wait, you know what? That did happen in the film: one guy gets a fucking knife ran through his head, two girls run off, only to stop and have an argument with one another at how this is the worst practical joke they ever experienced. Hell, the dumbfuck even walks over to the killer after spotting them, thinking the figure who just knifed a guy's eye out is in on the joke. You can guess what happens after that smart move. The fucking idiot... 

With this level of writing in mind, the direction and pacing can sum up as tedious, and the scares and suspense are very lacking. Any slice of gore here do look impressive for a small budget production, but when most of the victims are as dumb as someone walking into a bonfire to dry up after swimming in a lake full of gasoline, it kinda takes away the thrill of the blood spill. Add on the killer's motive being shallow at its worst and comparable to a teenager looking for attention so, yes, this movie just keeps getting suckier until the last minute.

What else is there to say but Terror At Black tree Forest (2021) is just embarrassingly awful, infuriating even, and that I'm highly hoping that the entire franchise isn't around this level of bad.

Dear God, please, don't let them be this bad...

1 male knifed to death
1 female strangled with fairy lights
1 male knifed through the throat
1 male knifed through the head, exits out of an eye
1 female gets a knife thrown to her chest
1 male found dead with a throat cut
1 female stabbed in the gut with a knife
Total: 7

Sunday, April 3, 2022

A Little Slice of Cheese Pizza: The Pizza Man (2001)

The Pizza Man (2001)
Rating: *1/2
Starring: Sara Rogere Carter, Sherman Golden and Allen Kemp

Special thanks to Junkyard Cinema back at Twitter and Youtube for sharing this rare slice of do-it-yourself slasher cinema with me. And now to flagellate myself with it because, well, I'm a sadomasochistic completist who just couldn't resist a hard-to-find title, even if it's going to be torture for my brain and eyeballs.

From what I can gather, The Pizza Man (2001) is mostly about a thug named Rico first, a killer pizza man second; the whole "story" is basically this Rico fella (who refers to himself in the third person) throwing a house party with his ghetto chums, his whiny "bee-yotch" girlfriend Sharon and two other girls who are in it for the bodycount as they smoke weed, deal crack and eat pizza. Meanwhile we got this escaped mental patient who used to be a pizza delivery man loose in the city killing people left and right with a buzzsaw on a stick, eventually making his way into crashing Rico's party.

Now, when I say The Pizza Man is a do-it-yourself horror film, I mean it is a do-it-yourself horror flick in the sense it hardly has a budget to speak of; its lack of proper lighting meant that it's incomprehensible even by grainy shot-on-video quality standards, which is made worse with the fact that the film mostly takes place at night and its last act involves a power loss. I don't know about you but I don't particularly find long scenes of flashlights wandering around exciting, nor are they gripping or worth my time. Its audio also often than not muffles out, further making a sit through of this title less of a minuscule chore and more of a suffering ordeal, one wherein its lack of budget killed off any potential of the end product being exploitatively cheeky and fun with its concept of a murderous pizza guy out stalking and slaying the people he delivers to.

Combine that with the matter that it has no real plot to work with, a direction without some shred of flair or style to it, and an editing so atrociously abrupt that it butchered the flow of the flick, then you might as well entertain yourself with a pop-up book sober as you'll certainly get more excitement out of that than this mess. Mercifully, The Pizza Man is only 48 minutes (credits included) so the suffering technically isn't too long and there is some cushion of cheese from the casts' bad acting that does make this film slightly tolerable. And by slightly, I mean I readied three cans of beer to numb my senses once I'm starting to find the film's corniness delving into annoying territories and it was dumb of me to assume I just needed three...

Bottom line, if you think you can withstand the full assault of a zero-production horror quickie like The Pizza Man (2001) and enjoy it, I'm partly worried about you but, hey, so long as you're happy! I, as a completist, do not regret seeing this as it is a rare find, but let's just say I now understand the reason behind its rarity and I think it's best to keep this one obscure.

1 female ran through with a circular saw
1 female killed offscreen, later seen with a head wound
1 male beaten to death
1 female had her throat cut
1 male and 1 female killed with a circular saw
1 male found decapitated
1 male killed offscreen with a circular saw
1 male killed with a circular saw
1 male seen murdered
Total: 10