Friday, January 25, 2008

Wrong Turn (2003)

The West Virginia Division of Tourism isn't going to like this. Let's be honest here. We always suspected the state was overflowing with inbred retards looking to trap and chew up outsiders. Now we know for sure. If you must drive through the state please stay on the paved roads (if their are any) and, for the love of god, don't stop at the run down gas station manned by the toothless geezer swigging Peptol Bismol.

Of course, I'm not being serious. I'm sure West Virginia is a lovely place to visit. Yeah, I'm sure there is some inbreeding going on and some of those kids might grow up looking like Rocky Dennis, only speaking an unintelligible dialect that sounds like pigs squealing as they wave their hatchets in the air like they just don't care. Name a place in the good ol' US of A where this sort of thing doesn't happen?

Wrong Turn is the story of six twenty-somethings lost in the woods and the three retarded abominations of nature that would love to have them for dinner. It's a familiar premise which, I believe, began in 1974 with the visceral classic The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. While similar in several ways to that film, Wrong Turn bears a more striking resemblence to another seminal film, Wes Craven's The Hills Have Eyes (1977). In that one, a family out on vacation in their RV were accosted by Michael Berryman and his family of mutants in the desert hills. The film featured dog and baby peril, something I'm not very fond of. Craven was able to say something about human nature when the hunted becomes the hunter. How far would we go to protect the ones we love? Also of note, the mutants were honest to god characters such as Berryman's Pluto and the little sympathetic girl, Ruby (played by Janus Blythe, who would go on to reprise her role in the sequel where she's become a vegetarian).

Wrong Turn clearly can't measure up to that picture, but it does ok on its own, at least until the mutants show up (about ten minutes or so). Desmond Harrington (Rescue Me) plays Chris Flynn, a prospective doctor having a really bad day. Flynn, trying to get to Raleigh for an interview, makes the mistake of getting directions from the toothless gas station attendant. Out in the middle of nowhere, he crashes his car into an SUV, already immobilized by one of those mutant barbed wire road traps. In the SUV are five friends and, with the exception of Eliza Dushku (as Jessie) and Jeremy Sisto (as Scott) are completely forgettable. In particular, I liked Sisto (May) who comes across as a vastly more intelligent Kevin Dillon. Now with two immobile vehicles, four of them (Chris, Jessie, Scott, and Scott's fiance) decide to walk back to the gas station while two young pot smoking lovers stay with the vehicles. All we needed was for a character named Big Daddy to be burned in effigy and we'd have ourselves a fucking remake.

Anyway, the young couple left by the cars like to smoke cigarrettes, smoke pot, and she likes to smoke something else if you know what I mean. We can only guess what happens to them.

The rest of the film is a cat and mouse game between the three mutant retard brothers and the four remaining yuppies. There were a couple nice set pieces along the way. I liked the scene in the mutant shack. You've seen it before, I'm sure. Victims walk into home, find a bunch of car keys, etc. Girl goes to pee. Finds a blood filled tub with a hand sticking out. Mutants come home, so everyone has to hide because the back door is blocked off. It's a mandatory scene, like the one at the gas station, in this kind of picture. There's a terrific sequence in a burning watch tower, previously used to scout for forest fires, long abandoned. So, that's two things I liked. Three if you count Sisto's performance, except when he compared their plight to "that movie Deliverence".

What I didn't like were the three retarded inbred brothers, Three-Finger, Saw-Tooth, and One-Eye. At least, these are the names they were given in the credits. The only one I could tell apart from the others was the little guy who laughed and giggled his way through the whole thing. These things weren't characters. They spoke, but not in english. There were no women around, so I wondered how their kind persisted. They were simply animals, but not even the good kind. Mutant animals. How the fuck did they survive for so long? There's a scene where the non-retards stumble upon a car graveyard. These fuckers have been robbing and eating people for years. They're the only people that live within miles of that particular road where everyone seems to be disappearing. Apparently, the area is patrolled by Roscoe Picotraine and his bumbling deputies, Enis and Cletus.

For the most part, the movie is played straight which is a good thing. Stan Winston produced, so that's another good thing I think. The woods here played a similar role as the woods in his great Pumpkinhead. The gore was actually fairly restrained. We see a hatchet to the mouth, a couple arrows to the back, and one arrow to the eye. Okay, so there were a few scenes of dismemberment back at the old homestead, but mutants gotta eat too.

Do you remember the X-Files episode called "home"? The one about the three inbred brothers living in farm country with their mutant mother/wife living under the floorboards? Wrong Turn is a longer version of that episode only it takes place in hill country and there's no legless woman living under the floorboards. Again, where are the mutant women in this picture?

If you feel the need to watch a picture from the "killer mutant family" genre, let me suggest The Hills Have Eyes remake. It's shocking. It's scary. It's brutal. The characterizations are pretty terrific. Also, Jupiter and Pluto and company have a legitimate excuse for looking like the kid from Mask. They didn't fuck their sister/mother/daughter. No. Their home was irradiated back in the early 1950s as the government conducted Nuclear bomb testing in Nevada. WE made them that way. Inbreeding is SO passe.

14 comments:

steve said...

Do I remember the 'X-Files' episode called 'Home'??? How on Earth could I forget it? For my money, it may well be the most viscerally arresting hour of TV ever produced.

elmo said...

You don't have any money- and it's not.

brian said...

Elmo, you are so wrong. "home" is, by far, the best X-Files episode ever. Right? Am I wrong? Impossible

I agree, however, that steve has no money.

steve said...

If I'm so wrong, what's right? What IS 'the most viscerally arresting hour of TV ever produced'? Come ON! NOTHING beats this hour, right from the horrifying opening minutes.

steve said...

Brian! 'Ghost Voyage' 'Blood Monkey' 'Scorcher' 'Bone Eater' ... when, O when, are you going to turn your attention once again to the rich pickings of the Sci Fi Channel? Surely you can at least review something that DARES you to, such as any movie with the hilarious title 'Bone Eater'?

brian said...

Stay tuned for my review of 'Kaw', perhaps the greatest two hours of television ever produced.

brian said...

'Ice Spiders' soon to follow.

brian said...

Tonight, I've watched three fantastic movies. 'Slime City', Bava's 'Bay of Blood', and 'Galaxina'. Reviews pending. When I'm sober, I'll watch them again. Highly recomended.

steve said...

why wait til you're sober? none of the rest of us do!

Beepy said...

Brian, do your opinions of the movies change when you rewatch them while sober?

Sam said...

In Brian's 'sober' moments he shakes so much every movie looks like it was filmed with a handheld camcorder. Not sure if that makes them better or not, though...

brian said...

I can't argue with Sam. Honestly beepy, I'm not sure. I'm sober maybe 8 hours per day. The last four hours of my sleep & the four hours before lunch.

To be honest, those three movies I watched saturday night weren't very enjoyable. 'Slime City' had potential as a low rent 'Street Trash' and might get better with subsequent viewings.

'Bay of Blood' was interesting in that it arguably started the "slasher" genre. It's influence on 'Friday the 13th Part II is undeniable.

'Galaxina' however was a bore. It's best known for starring Playboy Playmate Dorothy Stratten, who was murdered before the film was even released. It's about the adventures of a space police cruiser under the command of Captain Butt. It features the line "in space, no one can hear your siren".

brian said...

Oh, and HOW can a movie starring a Playboy Playmate have zero nudity??

steve said...

Ah, Beepy - remember all those porn flicks we made in the 60s? They couldn't PAY us to keep our clothes on!