Two urban couples head to the countryside for some downtime; however, they’re quickly introduced to the other side of ‘roughing it’ in the wilderness when the men’s ATV excursion makes a collision course straight for hell, where the locals aren’t keen to strangers. After a standoff with a couple of ill-tempered hillbillies, the residents of Resurrection County go from hostile to downright murderous, out to avenge the death of one of their own.
It’s your run-of-the-mill redneck torture flick – city folks wander off into no man’s land for some fresh air, only to end up being stalked (sometimes devoured, but not in this case) by a group of inbred loonies who possess the strength of Hercules and the Hulk combined. Lo and behold, the actors and actresses, a bunch of no-names, do a pretty damn decent job. The make-up department and special effects crew deserve a round of applause for creating very realistic blood and gore on a limited budget.
It falters midway through, courtesy of some slow-moving and unnecessary scenes that should have ended up on the cutting room floor, as well as succumbing to the stereo-typical errors that characters in horror movies make. There is a shotgun scene in the beginning that will satisfy sadists but, while gory throughout, there really isn’t much on-screen torture or anything that qualifies as extreme, not to veteran horror fans anyway.
Although predictable, it’s still intense with genuine performances, but lacks anything fresh or remarkable.
Four young, well-endowed hotties rent a cabin in Hicksville, USA where they’ve been followed by a group of morons consisting of an ultra-feminine art student, a mentally challenged (?) pervert, a geriatric war veteran in a wheelchair, and their sadistic ringleader. Also hot on the girls’ tails are a couple of greasy, dirty, toothless country bumpkins whose most impassioned lines are, “God damned city bitches!” Let me not forget to mention two detectives who are pursuing the damsels in distress. Only they’re not damsels in distress. At the stroke of midnight, they transform into bloodthirsty demons – bloodthirsty lesbian demons.
This is… one of the worst I have ever seen and I have watched some major stinkers. Unfortunately, not even all of the T&A could save Wicked Lake. The tone of the film is constantly changing and confusing for the viewer. Am I supposed to laugh? Is this character to be taken seriously? Much of the movie looks like it was shot with a camcorder, the dialog made my ears numb, and the acting is deplorable. I live for B-movie horror and low-budget amateur efforts so I’ve made it a habit to overlook sub-par acting but, in this case, it’s so bad that it’s unforgivable. Even worse, when they’re not ‘acting’, they’re zoning off, unresponsive to anything that’s happening with the rest of the characters. It’s a complete mess.
I’m irritated that I wasted 95 minutes of my life on this cinematic piece of excrement.
Amusement is one that I’ve had on my list for quite some time, mostly because of the scary ass clown on the cover. Like 99.9% of the cover art done for modern day movies, it’s greatly misleading. There is one semi-intense scene that will provoke your coulrophobia and it was only included, I suspect, as an excuse to create an enticing DVD spread for horror fans.
Starting off with the plot, this movie doesn’t have one, at least not a coherent one or one that makes an iota of sense. The film is a mish mash of discombobulated scenarios consisting of a maniac stalking three young women because they they didn’t find his mutilated-rat-in-a-box particularly funny or entertaining a decade earlier. Talk about holding a grudge. A dumb one.
Visually, the movie works. I mean, really works. So does the acting, surprisingly. All of the violence is done off-camera. This isn’t a slasher, torture porn (although, with different direction, it could have easily ventured into that territory), or even a mystery/suspense. It was originally slated for theatrical release until the distributor sent it packing straight-to-video after viewing it and it’s no brainteaser why. Despite above-par acting and some pretty kick ass locations and sets, Amusement is dragged down by a muddled script, zero scares, and a cookie-cutter villain. It’s not even so bad, it’s funny.
This has all of my favorite elements of a low-budget below B-movie horror flick – a cast of unknown actors and actresses, a rookie director, a budget of however many bills and coins said director could fit in both jeans pockets, and a film poster/DVD cover that quickly triggers a WTF reaction. The tagline, The Island of Dr. Moreau meets Hostel, should have had me running for the hills but I couldn’t resist the cute and cuddly hillbilly porker with the pitchfork. Until tonight, I was a hogsploitation virgin and there’s no purity in that.
It seems those crazy scientists are doing the Devil’s work again. This time, they’re performing sick and twisted experiments, slicing and dicing up swine and then splicing their DNA with humans’ for the sole purpose of… entertainment? The viewer is never given comprehensive details as to why there would be any intelligent purpose to create a porcine-human mutant and it’s probably for the best, considering there is no reason convincing enough. Lo and behold, the lab’s dubious creatures end up slaughtering their creators and abandoning the compound they’d been confined to in favor of a nearby abandoned farm. He-pig and she-pig and their mischievous midget son have quite a mean streak, taking delight in abducting poor folks who have the misfortune of traveling through them their parts.
A trio of band members, Mark, Travis, and Tom, Travis’s ditzy and well-endowed groupies, and Valerie, the band’s manager, are kidnapped and made to await their demise in chickenwire prisons. The movie is tolerable up to this point, thanks to some good suspenseful, nail-biting scenes, and of course, healthy doses of blood-soaked innards and dismembered limbs. What destroys Squeal is the insufferable screaming, bawling, and the God-awful, over-emphasized hyperventilating from all but one of the characters. At some point, the director has a duty to step in and squeeze two fingers together in a gesture that says, “Tone it down, waaaaay down.”
Other than that, the make-up (aka a pig nose and body hair) is decent, the acting is not that bad, and the DIY special effects are decent. A lot of the gore and violence is shot right outside the camera’s view and, besides a brief sex scene and a pair of naked knockers, this is something one would expect to see on the Chiller channel late at night. Even though I rated it low, this was a hundred times better than I expected it to be and is actually more watchable than most of the drivel on the SyFy channel. I’ve seen worse movies, horror or otherwise, with a much higher budget. Michael Bay, anyone?
Mel (Peyton List) and her best friend, Jules (Cameron Goodman), return to Los Angeles from their trip to Mexico. At the airport, they’re hit on by Seth (James Snyder) who is with his buddy, Matt (Dave Power). They board a shuttle after the driver (Tony Curran) offers to transport them for half the normal cost. When they end up on a deserted road away from town, the driver tells them he has brought them there to avoid a traffic jam. Cue dramatic music when Matt’s fingers are completely severed as he changes the bus’s flat tire and the situation goes from bad to worse – much worse.
There is a twist at the ending that was spoiled for me after I read, what I thought to be, a harmless thread at the IMDb message boards. I still would have figured it out and that’s not me being cocky. Most avid movie watchers will guess correctly too, especially since the subject matter was popular around the time this movie was made. There are numerous clues throughout the film but this is more of a drama/thriller than it is mystery and suspense. In a way, depending on how you perceive the cover art, you may assume this is torture porn. It’s not. There are a couple of minutes of nudity and it is not gratuitous. There is violence and bloodshed but nothing the average person can’t handle.
The characters are constantly doing (or not doing) things that are frustrating, to the point I almost punched the screen, right where their faces were. It was maddening. I’ve seen a lot of low-budget horror films and the characters are always making irrational decisions but Shuttle elevates illogical to a nearly epic level. Despite snags in the tale’s weave, the actors and actresses give decent, authentic performances. I’m both pleased and bitter about the realistic, totally depressing, hard slap-in-the-face ending. The Mist’s or Mary and Max’s conclusions? Pfffft, baby food compared to Shuttle’s and the latter does it with the visual alone, without a moody musical accompaniment.
A group of soldiers named the Z-Squad is summoned to Nebraska to take care of a zombie outbreak at a government commissioned lab headed by Dr. Chushfeld. With the United States at war with so many countries, George W. Bush has sanctioned the development of a virus that reanimates dead soldiers. During the brouhaha with the undead, Byrdflough, one of the Z-Squad members is bitten. After witnessing the shooting of a lab assistant who is infected, he panics and manages to escape from the facility, ending up at Rhino, an underground strip club.
The seedy establishment is run by Ian (Robert Englund) who despises the women and is off-put by their affection toward him, as well as a bit OCD with his can of disinfectant spray. Upon the arrival of an angel-faced newcomer, Jessy, Rhino’s most popular dancer, Kat (Jenna Jameson), is attacked and infected by Byrdflough. Competition brews as they see Kat command more money and attention as a zombie stripper. One by one, they succumb to their desire to become one of the undead so that they can steal the spotlight for their own.
There isn’t too much to say about this gory, sleazy, ham fest. You want boobs? You want zombies? You want porn stars with boobs as zombies? You got it but be warned that the exotic dancing isn’t all that titillating (hello, there’s a pole there – use it!) until their eyes are sunken in and their flesh is puckered and grey. Even though Jenna Jameson is billed as the main attraction in this film, sexy Shamron Moore outshines her as Kat’s bitchy, resentful rival – both in looks and acting. She’s prettier, curvier, and doesn’t have Botox-injected lips the size of Texas.
The film’s biggest mistake is smothering us with social and political rhetoric. Please leave that to Michael Moore or Fox News. The satire fails miserably. It’s injected into the movie without any thought or concern about who is spewing it, when, how, where, or why. Zombie Strippers! works as a campy blood-and-guts fest but not as some wanna-be philosophical caveat.
The decapitations, zombie feasts, limb removals, disembowelments, and other nasty, revolting displays of carnage will have splatter hounds howling with joy. Some of the CGI is downright laughable but so is the rest of the movie.
Marnie (Famke Janssen) returns home for three years of house arrest after serving jail time for murdering her abusive husband, Mike. Shanks, the cop assigned to keep an eye on her happens to be her dead husband’s partner. He’s less than enthusiastic about her release and harasses Marnie every chance he gets. Add to that a sister who is bitter about their mother sacrificing her energy and finances to pay for Marnie’s defense lawyers.
Ostracized and lonely, unable to leave the confines of the house, she spends her days cleaning, reading, and eventually befriending a neighbor boy, Joey (Ed Westwick, Gossip Girl), who delivers her groceries. He’s the only one who will speak to her or even acknowledge her presence.
Enter the weird CGI ghost of Mike – half Michael Myers and half knock-off Japanese horror creation. He terrorizes Marnie subtly at first but as the film progresses he becomes Hercules, knocking her down stairs, throwing her against walls, giving her numerous bruises, and attempting to shred her hand to pieces. Desperate to rid herself of Mike’s spirit, she removes all of his clothes and other belongings but it doesn’t work. Will Mike ever leave her alone?
This is a genuinely scary movie at times. The camera angles, the creaking floorboards, and long silences create a lot of tension. For the gore hounds, there is an impressive fight scene between Mike and one of Marnie’s visitors. What works so well in the first half of the movie is ignored completely in the last half. The implied turns into an obnoxious, visual assault. It’s like the ghost of Mike is training for some underworld UFC and he’s using Marnie as an unwilling sparring partner.
Watch this if you’re a die-hard horror fan. Otherwise, skip it and go see Insidious or rent The Others.
Willa Holland plays April who runs off to Hollywood to escape from her sleazy step-father. There, she is introduced to an even sleazier fellow, a photographer who offers her cash to pose naked for the camera. She does what she has to in order to survive, as do Nathan, a farm boy from Nebraska who dreams of being a dancer, and Sammy, an aspiring singer.
The only person to make this film interesting is the gorgeous Vinessa Shaw. She plays Sally St. Clair, Internet nudie turned tough-as-nails real estate agent who has a soft spot for teenage drifters, especially ones who will tend to her marijuana plants. The other characters seem to wander through life aimlessly, casting shame and good sense aside while avoiding, entertaining, or humoring their predators.
Garden Party is a plain movie with equally plain characters that starts off painfully slow. It never fully satisfies. Certain vignettes end abruptly and new ones are introduced haphazardly. If anything, this film serves as a warning to young people with dreams of making it big in Hollywood. It isn’t a fairytale journey and the Big Bad Wolf is lurking around every corner.