Tag Cannibals

Wrong Turn 2: Dead End (2007)

Wrong Turn 2: Dead End (2007)

In the Forest, Only They Can Hear You Scream.

Six contestants taking part in a survival reality TV show find themselves pitted against a family of hideously deformed and inbred cannibals in the woods in West Virginia.

 

A belated sequel to 2003′s Wrong Turn, you would be forgiven for thinking that this would be a straight rehash with more blood, guts and a bigger body count. That’s what horror sequels are supposed to do, right? Well if you think that Wrong Turn 2: Dead End is going to be any different, you’re wrong.

Sticking to the same formula of a bunch of pretty boys and hot chicks being stranded in the woods and hunted down one-at-a-time by a bunch of inbred cannibals, it surprisingly doesn’t seem stale at all. The original Wrong Turn is a particular favourite of mine from the last ten years of horror films, simply because it didn’t skimp on the visuals when someone was sliced and diced. It got nasty when it needed to and it was just a fun all-round watch (having Eliza Dushku in a glorious white top didn’t harm things either). This sequel sticks rigidly to the formula and ups the ante with some more gruesome kills – in fact some of the most entertaining kills I’ve seen for years (though the years have been sparse for creativity).

The original tried to go for a more serious atmosphere more akin to one of the late 70s backwoods horror films like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Wrong Turn 2: Dead End goes for the jugular and becomes just a fun, light-hearted, no-brains hardcore splatter fest! The pacing is cranked up. There are more characters to dispose of (the good ol’ “sequels have a higher body count rule”) and the blood flows freely. One of the reasons the film works is because of the script. Not just your cut-and-rush job like most sequels, the writers actually spend a bit of time getting us used to the characters before all hell breaks loose. Granted the characters are all stock (the slut, the comic relief, token black guy, ex-army ranger, etc) but at least some of them are made out to be more than just things where axes and sharp objects should be inserted. Even the inbred cannibals are given some development – you realise towards the end of the film that they’re not just maniacs but actually a loving family who know no better than the life they have chosen.

It still doesn’t stop the brutality though and believe me, lovers of gore and splatter will find plenty to marvel here. I don’t really want to spoil the film for those who may be pondering a look but there are some hilarious deaths, some nasty ones and some of both. The film opens with a kick ass kill and it doesn’t let up from there right until the final showdown. Get the sick bags ready.

Out of the cast, you’ll no doubt recognise Erica Leerhsen from the remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre but that’s about it for the younger cast. It’s rapper-turned-spoken word maestro Henry Rollins who steal the show as the gung-ho presenter of the reality show who reverts to type when the threat of the cannibals hits home. Also of note is the gigantic Ken Kirzinger who plays the dad of the cannibal family – this is one big dude you don’t want to mess with.

On the flip side to all of this, if you’ve seen one backwoods horror you’ve pretty much seen them all. With recent remakes of The Hills Have Eyes and its terrible sequel as well as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and its terrible prequel, the market is pretty crowded. Cannibals and mutants are a bit over-exposed at the moment so expect the same generic scenes of grunting dialogue, freakish lifestyles (what cannibal movie wouldn’t have a dinner scene?) and disgusting living quarters. Also despite the character development at the start, the dialogue is pretty annoying at best with the exception of some one-liners from Rollins. There are some irritating people in there you want hacked to pieces from the start and thankfully the film fulfils your wishes.

 

Wrong Turn 2: Dead End whips up an awesome mix of thrills and spills despite presenting us the same meal we horror fans have been gorging on for so long now. Director Joe Lynch has clearly made a film by horror fans for horror fans and one that doesn’t disappoint. Top sequel and I can’t wait for his next flick.

 

 ★★★★★★★☆☆☆ 

 

 

Cannibal Ferox II (1985)

Cannibal Ferox II (1985)

A journey into the cannibal inferno

A small charter plane carrying a mixed group of people, including a dinosaur bone hunter, a college professor and his daughter, a Vietnam veteran and his drunk wife and a porn photographer and two of his stars, crash lands in a remote part of the Amazon jungle. Knowing that they were off course and that any rescue mission would be miles away, the group decides to trek through the jungle in the hope of reaching safety. They must battle cannibals, slave traders and all of the natural wonders of the jungle if they are to survive.

 

Nowhere near as nasty as any of it’s cannibal brothers, Cannibal Ferox II seems to be a cheap jungle adventure film with a shock-horror title thrown on to sell a few extra copies. I can’t say I had high hopes for this one simply for the fact that these cannibal films aren’t easy to watch, even for hardened veterans like myself. Cannibal Holocaust was probably the most genuinely disturbing film I’ve ever seen (in its uncut form – the butchered version released for sale in the UK is like watching Toy Story compared to the uncut version).

But like zombie films, there’s only so much you can do with cannibal and these Italian flicks share the same plot: a group of people fall foul of cannibals in the jungle and they get maimed, cooked and eaten in all manner of disturbing fashion. However Cannibal Ferox II forgets that it is supposed to feature cannibals and they make up only a small portion of the film. Those looking for a cannibal flick best turn away now because you’re going to be disappointed. If you want to watch a very cheesy but hugely entertaining schlock fest of bad acting, bad dubbing, bad special effects, absurd action scenes and lots of nudity and violence then you’ve come to the right place. But cannibals? Definitely not the focal point of the film.

Right from the start you can tell that this is going to be a little on the cheesy side. The fight between the bone hunter and two oiled-up muscle heads is hilarious – they’re the sort of guys who used to star in those equally ridiculous Italian Hercules films. He’s actually a pretty likeable character and at least there’s some attachment to the character and his lovable rogue charm. The other characters all get their own introductions and you can already sense who is going to survive and who isn’t. Apart from the two air-headed porn stars, the rest of the characters are all played with enough cartoon-like zest that it breaks the boundaries of bad acting to become absurdly silly in a good way. There’s the Vietnam vet who constantly overacts and always wants to do things the violent and aggressive way. There’s his drunken wife who you know isn’t going to make it because she’s too drunk and bitchy. There’s the sleazy porn photographer. And the good old daughter of the professor who graces us with many a naked full body shot. Suzane Carvalho is hot and the camera knows it (apparently she’s an Indy car racer now). What would a cannibal film be without the requisite ‘get the white females naked and in some native rituals’ scene?

Well the cannibals don’t really get much of a look-in to be honest. The jungle itself proves the most challenging obstacle that the group have to overcome. Crocodiles, leeches, piranhas, quick sand – you name it and the characters will be facing it. The film manages to keep a tight pace for most of its running time. There’s always one more character to kill off with each new peril faced. However towards the end of the film, there’s another sub plot thrown in about a group of slave traders who stumble upon the survivors and then enlist them into their workforce. The film was heading towards a decent climax at that point but it just tacks another fifteen minutes onto the film which wasn’t really needed. I’d rather have seen them come upon the cannibals a bit more because what you do see of the cannibals is pretty lousy to say the least.

This slave story really sucks the life out of the film and its purpose seems to be to have a few more explosions, a rape scene and then the token helicopter (a lot of these Italian cannibal/zombie films either start or end with a helicopter for some reason). And on one final note, this has absolutely nothing to do with the original Cannibal Ferox. It was simply tagged with the ‘II’ to try and get it distributed.

 

Cannibal Ferox II shouldn’t be mistaken for a true cannibal film. Yes it has got them in and yes they do get to eat the heart of one of the survivors. But this film is about sleaze and cheese and it serves both up in copious amounts. Low grade exploitation films don’t come much more entertaining than this. Unplug your brain and sit back and watch films how they were never meant to be!

 

 ★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

Death Line (1973)

Death Line (1973)

Beneath Modern London Lives a Tribe of Once Humans. Neither Men Nor Women…They Are the Raw Meat Of The Human Race!

Over the years, numerous people have gone missing in the tube between Holborn and Russell Square. When a top civil servant is the latest to disappear, Scotland Yard take the matter seriously and begin to investigate. They find out that at the turn of the century, a group of tunnel-diggers in the London Underground were lost when it caved-in. Presumed dead, they managed to survive in an air pocket but without food, they resorted to cannibalism. Now it seems they have found a way out.

 

After watching the dismal Creep, I read a few reports stating that it was very similar in story to an earlier British horror called Death Line, which has garnered quite a cult reputation over the years. It took me ages to track it down and having finally seen it, I can report that it’s a very acquired taste. In other words, if you like slow, talky flicks with a few cheap gore scenes thrown in, then this is right down your alley. In fact I’m being a little harsh with that comment. For 1972 and for a British-made horror flick, this is pretty gruesome and boundary-pushing material.

It’s a largely American-made film which clearly tries to tap into the Hammer/Amicus horror market of the 60s and early 70s and does a reasonable job of creating a modern horror flick, back at a time when Hammer was still engrossed in setting their films in the past. The London Underground is such an ominous setting in real life and it’s a perfect place to set a horror flick (just ask John Landis when he filmed An American Werewolf in London) but unfortunately we don’t see a great deal of it. Instead we see lots of dark, empty, unfinished tunnels which lead to the cannibal’s lair. The long, unbroken pan around the cannibal’s home is superb though, seeing the rotting corpses of former friends and family and getting a general sense that this place has been untouched for years. There’s dust, slime and the air seems stagnant – you can almost smell how bad it is. Lighting and shadow is used to create a time capsule but unfortunately this is the only time we see the lair.

Most of the film is set away from any sort of railway line, including shops, police stations and pubs. It’s here where the film really, really drags. I’m not expecting the film to just show us continuous montages of the cannibal attacking people and moping around his lair. But contrast that to scenes featuring the hero and heroine in their apartment, and I know which I’d rather be watching.

At least there’s a seasoned veteran beefing things up. Donald Pleasance is a hoot in this film as the police inspector assigned to the case. His efforts to get to the bottom of this mystery take up the bulk of the screen time and whilst Pleasance is a joy to watch here, it’s just way too much exposure for one film. Christopher Lee also gets a large billing but appears in a shocking cameo for about five minutes before vanishing entirely. Also worth mentioning is Hugh Armstrong as ‘The Man’ or the cannibal in the film. He turns the monster into such a sad, lonely figure almost like Frankenstein’s monster. He’s not really scary because the film contrasts him too much. One moment we see him caring for his dying wife before we see him dispatching a few workers in grisly manner a couple of minutes later. Later in the film when he kidnaps Patricia, I guess we’re supposed to hate him for it but in reality, we want to see a happy ending for him. Unfortunately for Alex, the hero of the film, because the ‘villain’ is so sympathetic, it’s hard to root for him. Despite the cannibal committing some brutal acts of murder and being incapable of speech, he’s still way more appealing than this sponge of a man.

 

Death Line is seemingly caught between a rock and a hard place. It wants to be an intelligent horror film dealing with one man’s struggle to retain the way of life he has grown used to and the realisation that he’s the only one left. But the inclusion of some highly gory moments suggests that they opted for a quicker profit margin with shock tactics. It’s highly talky but definitely one film all horror fans should scope at some point simply because it’s so hard to find in the UK (at time of writing).