Monday, April 7, 2008

Lake Dead

In my ongoing efforts to delay returning to the Tomb of Terrors collection, I’ve decided to grace you all with a marathon of the new batch of 8 After Dark Horrorfest films. For those unfamiliar with the series, about a year and a half ago, there was a three day marathon of 8 horror movies that were bundled together for added promotion, because they quite frankly were (with one or two exceptions) too mediocre to survive solo. I didn’t see all of the original batch, but out of the five that I did watch, there were only two that I’d ever want to see again. As such, the second round, just released on DVD last month, seemed a worthy addition to this blog. Just to make thing easier on myself, I’ve taken the liberty of viewing Lake Dead first, since most reviews have said this was the weakest one, and I’m saving Mulberry Street for last, since a surprising number of people are saying that one’s actually really good. We’ll see when I get to it next week.

This one’s not so good though. It’s a pretty standard slasher flick, filled with annoying characters going up into some isolated wilderness and being stalked by mad slashers until most of them are dead. There’s some attempt at creating an ironic twist, by having the killers being incestuous relatives of the two main sisters, wanting them to come up so they can continue the family line in purity, but it doesn’t really help the movie much. The acting is pretty poor across the board, and the writing and directing, and sound are all pretty much awful. What’s so bad about it? Well, I’ll start with the first thing that really grated on me. There’s one sister at the beginning whose character trait to distinguish herself from the others is that she uses the word “fuck” in every sentence. She’s thankfully killed early on, but why was she even in the film to begin with? She contributes absolutely nothing beyond being an early victim of the killers, and that could have been managed with a good deal less time devoted to her.

They also manage to throw in, near the beginning of the film, a completely nudity-free sex scene between the main heroine and her boyfriend, for no reason that I can conceive beyond that the film needed some extra padding. There’s also a bit of brilliance where, after she gets to the Lake Hotel and talks to the old woman running the place, she comes back outside to the others and excitedly tells them “she says there’s a lake, too!” Wow, really??? Some would say that this is being nitpicky, since their last name is actually Lake, but since they don’t bother to mention that until the very end of the film, I’d say it counts all the same. There’s also the joy of one character trying to use their cell phone to call for help, only to get the dreaded “No service!” Given the prevalence of this problem in horror movies, I find I must conclude that there is exactly one cell tower in the whole of the United States, and it has been co-opted by the military.

There’s also a problem with the sound. There’s a few scenes where the ridiculously overdramatic music starts to drown out the dialogue, and the sound effects are all pretty incongruent with what we’re being shown on the screen. I’m not sure how to properly describe them; they sound a bit like someone loudly chomping on celery while slurping soup and stamping on grapes. This is every time someone gets killed, and I don’t have the slightest idea why.

That said, you know, one of the characters wears a Rutgers Football shirt, so I guess it’s not really that bad, right? Here’s hoping the other seven films will improve upon this foundation.

Rating: * ½

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