So Bad It’s Scary: “Wrong Turn 4: Bloody Beginnings” (2010)

In the horror world there is a loyalty that you won’t find in any other genre. No matter how many bad sequels, awful remakes, and painful prequels Hollywood brings us, we just keep coming back for more. Case in point, “Wrong Turn 4: Bloody Beginnings.” The original “Wrong Turn” was a fun if fairly derivative slice of hillbilly horror that struck the right cord with horror audiences. It was not a box office hit making just $16 million on a budget of $12 million but the film sold millions of dvds and we can thank it with starting the series that no one really asked for. “Wrong Turn 2” turns the tables by turning the first film into a reality show. It was fun, campy, and delightfully over-the-top. The less said about the third film the better. Now, eight years after the first installment, we have “Wrong Turn 4” a prequel that sets to up the stakes. But…does it succeed?

The film opens in 1974 at the Glenville Sanatorium with Dr. Ryan (Arne McPherson) showing a local psychiatrist Dr. Ann McQuaid (Kristen Harris) around the psychiatric hospital. The cannibals from the previous films-One Eye, Three Finger, and Saw Tooth now are locked up in the institution as children. But the cannibals escapes and sets other insane patient free in the hospital. Then cannibals savagely murder an orderly, Guard, Dr. Ryan and Dr. McQuaid. The film then switches to present day where a group of college kids, Kenia (Jennifer Pudavick), lesbian couple Sara (Tenika Davis) and Bridget (Kaitlyn Wong), Lauren (Ali Tataryn), Jenna (Terra Vnesa), and Claire (Samantha Kendrick), along with their guy friends Kyle (Victor Zinck), Vincent (Sean Skene) and Daniel (Dean Armstrong) are going snowmobiling. They are heading to their friend Porter’s cabin in the mountains. They get lost in a storm and seek refuge inside the now abandoned Glenville Sanatorium. Little do they know, the three now adult cannibals are hiding out in the sanatorium and murdering trespassers. The movie makes it unclear as to the whereabouts of rest of patients set free by cannibals.

The group of teenagers explore the asylum, and decide to wait out the storm. After a montage of rolling around in wheelchairs, acting on illegal drugs, drinking booze and acting like teenagers, the storm still hasn’t stopped so the teenagers are forced to sleep in the desolate building. In the middle of the night, Vincent, suffering from insomnia, walks around the asylum and finds Porter’s mutilated body – apparently he didn’t make it to his cabin either. He is then killed by Saw-Tooth having a metal rod shoved into his chin and out through the top of his head. The next morning, everyone discovers they are still snowed in, and Vincent is missing. The gang splits up to look for him, and Jenna witnesses the cannibals cutting Porter up. She runs back to tell the others and they all meet up in the auditorium. Something wrapped in Porter’s jacket is thrown at them and Kenia opens it up to reveal Porter’s severed head. Screaming and panicking, the group flocks around the door, trying to get out but the doors are locked. The three cannibals-up in the balcony, throw down a strip of barb-wire and loop it around Claire’s neck, pulling her up to the balcony. Kyle tries to save her, but it is too late and the barb-wire tightens, severing Claire’s head. Horrified, those who are left of them (Kenia, Sara, Bridget, Lauren, Jenna, Kyle and Daniel) run outside and try to escape on their snowmobiles, but the engines won’t turn and it is revealed that the cannibals had stripped them of their spark plug wires. Lauren sets off to ski down the mountain to retrieve help and the other six run inside to try to defend themselves.

“Wrong Turn 4: Bloody Beginnings” is all sorts of lame. Bad CGI, atrocious acting, and thoroughly unlikable characters are just the start of this film’s problems. When will filmmakers realize that when we don’t like their characters, we don’t care who lives and who dies. When we don’t care, the movie is robbed of any and all suspense. Speaking of suspense, it is fairly obvious that ****SPOILER ALERT*** all of our “teen” characters die and all three hillbillies live as we know they were around for the “first” installment. This is just lazy filmmaking all around with some effects that have to be seen to be believed and no I don’t mean that as a compliment. Any turn away from the cover box at your local video store is a turn in the right direction.

So Bad It’s Scary: “The Roommate” (2011)

Some movies are just bad. Born bad without an ounce of originality or depth. Without a single imaginative scene or performance of note. “The Roommate” WISHES it were one of those films. This is easily one of the worst movies in recent memory.

The film starts with our bland heroine Sara (Minka Kelly) moving into college and getting used to living the dorm life. Her roommate, Rebecca, ends up being an awkward young woman who becomes increasingly weird and possessive of Sara. Rebecca does more and more harmful things to the people she’s trying to “protect” Sara from. Rebecca also finds ways of manipulating Sara to keep her from leaving once Sara starts becoming uncomfortable. Until this final act, Sara doesn’t even really show she’s scared or uncomfortable with Rebecca. It ends up escalating (although there’s no real escalation) to the point of the lame ending.

The Roommate is poorly done in every way possible. Everything from showing that Sara was an innocent, ignorant young lady from a small town (who really goes to a frat party and thinks they’re just serving punch?), to the all too obvious ending that never properly showed the escalation where it would get to that point. The escalation in violence is small, inconsistent, and boring. Nothing massive to the point you’d be creeped out, scared, or even just made uncomfortable, happens. The story is stupid and unoriginal. The directing seems passive, and the actors don’t seem very interested in anything that is going on around them. And don’t get me started on poor little Cuddles.

Everything about The Roommate is terrible. The acting, directing, casting, music, cinematography all feel very “made for tv”ish. There is no entertainment value and no reason to watch this movie in any fashion. Avoid at all costs.

So Bad It’s Scary: “Savage Vengeance” (1993)

I have talked about this film a little in the past, it’s a film that, after a few viewings, easily becomes SO bad it’s good. Savage Vengeance is the best of bad film making. You know you’re in for a fun ride when the opening title spells the name of the film wrong…

Savage Vengeance plays as a sequel/quasi remake (rip off) to Meir Zarchi’s seminal classic I Spit On Your Grave. Jennifer was raped 5 years ago and cleared of murder upon taking her revenge. 5 years later Jennifer and a friend skip school for a remote cabin in the woods and are subsequently raped, her friend killed, and mutilated by two local hicks. Jennifer once again takes it upon her to exact revenge…

Oh, boy…where to start? This movie is simply so terrible….This film runs for a scant 66 minutes and it is an hour of sheer awfulness. Savage Vengeance is shot on video, with consistently awful camera work, lighting, acting and music throughout…

Although she’s appearing under a false name, let me reassure you folks, the star of this film is indeed Camille Keaton and she manages to ham it up as much, if not more, as her cast mates. She is a great actress indeed…just not here. One just gets feeling the poor woman doesn’t want to be there, everything, from her stilted dialogue to her bad crop of dyed red hair seems off…

A BAD synthesizer score that NEVER relents makes the movie’s brief stay seem much longer, dead bodies move, characters never change their outfits despite the film taking place over 3 days, near fatal wounds vanish in between scenes…I could go on and on about how many faults this film has, it’s the worst kind of bad film making and yet…I DO love this film. I don’t know why when the filmmakers can’t even spell their own title right, but to me this film is like a drug, I just want to watch it more and more…Savage Vengeance is truly a wonder to behold for bad film making. I implore any fan of I Spit, Camille Keaton or just a sucker for bad movies like myself to seek it out!!

–Reece Glen Donnell

So Bad It’s Scary: “New Year’s Evil” (1980) Review

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Released in 1980, New Year’s Evil is yet another holiday themed slasher movie and back in the 80s it seemed to holiday, or event was safe from Halloween to Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Prom, Graduation and hell even slumber parties weren’t safe. New Year’s Evil is still early into the slasher cycle when the clichés were still in the early stages and while this is a slasher flick it’s also a little different from the norm in the 80s.

During a New Year’s Eve party broadcast on TV the host Diane (Roz Kelly) receives a call from an unknown killer (Kip Niven) stating he will kill somebody in each time zone; his voice is disguised (however we see his face so no spoiler there and the calls are hysterical I am EVILLL). He records each killing on cassette tape (blast from the past) and then after each murder he calls the show and plays the tape back.

The screenplay by Leonard Neubauer is the typical of its time with faceless victims with zero depth; we know who the killer is from the start at least in terms of looks and I think anyone with even half a brain should figure out his connection to Diane so the mystery angle assuming that was the plan is a failure and I have to think that was the point by Neubauer I can’t see him writing this as any kind of mystery. New Year’s Evil takes a different approach with the script in regards to the killer isn’t wearing a mask or disfigured and in many ways, Neubauer seems to also try and mix in more thriller aspects; while the screenplay has some entertaining moments and some decent comedy and a decent touch of family drama, which does add a little bit of depth to an otherwise sloppy screenplay, but in the end it’s brought down by the fact we know who the killer is and again its painfully obvious his connection to Diane so therefore the cops trying to figure things out doesn’t work as well it could have if the killer was kept hidden.

Director Emmett Alston delivers the standard slasher flick just without the gore and nudity these movies became known for; the direction is rather flat with very little in the way of suspense and tension and the production has much more of a TV movie feel rather than theatrical. The death scenes are decently staged, but they lack any real flair or any blood. New Year’s Evil is a little sloppy and at times not very well made, but it’s not a complete hack job either. New Year’s Evil has built up a nice cult following so I suppose Alston did something correct and despite the many flaws of the movie even I have to say I enjoyed the movie even if nothing really stands out.

The one thing interesting about New Year’s Evil are the primary characters are adults in their late 30s to early 40s; most slasher movies feature teen characters or characters in their early 20s so this for me stands out due to that, but older characters doesn’t mean they’re any smarter as Diane is a rather useless final girl and while the performance by Roz Kelly (best known from Happy Days) was fairly good, but again she was rather useless as the final girl and towards the end with the showdown with the killer she seems more than content with being a victim rather than fighting back.

Overall New Year’s Evil while in no ways one of the better slasher flicks of the 80s does work in that 80s slasher sort of way and fans of these films will totally understand. Everything here is rather pedestrian and the villain and his disguising of his voice is hysterical and you gotta love the way the guy is the master of disguises going from a worker at an insane asylum and even a priest.

–Dave Kaye