It’s like the horror fates lead me to similar movies to blog about, so I had no choice but to cover drug-themed backwoods slashers Young, High and Dead and 4/20 Massacre in a single post. They also have something else in common, an issue I talk about often in indie horror these days—between the really cool horror moments, the writers often have no idea how to create a story or successfully develop characters to which we can connect.
YOUNG, HIGH AND DEAD (2013)
I was quite drawn in by the raw, low budget feel of this film’s opening scene. It’s just a first person POV and heavy breathing traveling through an ominous situation in a basement, but it’s quite effective, and segues right into a throwback black and white animated credit sequence with creepy music. I was pumped.
Plus, sprinkled throughout the movie are gritty, disturbing clips in a basement lair involving a little girl and sharp tools, and while it doesn’t explicitly show anything, the implications are horrific. It has that old school “why does this feel uncomfortably real?” vibe of underground classics.
Unfortunately, the bulk of the movie aside from that is tedious to get through. A group of friends travels into the woods to camp and party.
After a tense scene of the group hiking right near a plot where a killer is burying a body in the woods, this movie simply goes nowhere for almost an hour.
The group sits around a campfire drinking, drugging, and talking, and due to sound issues I could barely understand most of the dialogue. This just goes on and on and on.
But I’d suggest you stick with it (or fast forward through it), because finally we get somewhere.
After what I believe is just a super creepy dream sequence reminiscent of found footage films, the group wakes up the next morning to find several of them have been chained to the ground overnight while they were sleeping in their tents. EEK! Unfortunately, this leads to some agonizing time watching them just try to break the chains.
The group splits up and things just get more and more confusing and hard to see, with lots of dark footage of characters running through the woods.
Then…all of a sudden…the film somehow finds clear, concrete ground to deliver a chain of wild situations as the final survivors get into one whacked situation after another leading up to the final battle to the death.
It’s like you stepped into a 1970s grindhouse revenge flick and I kind of fricking loved it. Just don’t expect any of the components fed to us throughout the film to really come together or make sense.
It is just dumbfounding how a filmmaker can make something this damn stylized and entertaining but have no idea how to make everything leading up it worthy of it.
4/20 MASSACRE (2018)
4/20 Massacre starts off with a great jump scare and kill, so I had really high hopes. Yeah, I just realized the pun, but it was totally unintentional (I’m so much better than that when I’m trying).
Next comes a gaggle of girls going hiking in the woods. Holy crap and damn it all to hell! This movie turns into a chick flick interspersed with kills. Argh!
I can’t believe how much talking and sitting around fills the time between kills. Actually, yes I can, because I just blogged about Young, High and Dead.
I simply could not stay focused on anything these girls were talking about. To spice things up, there’s lesbian attraction… some that doesn’t work out, some that does, which leads to lesbian action, making this suddenly a lesbian chick flick. Why can’t any of the damn sausage fest flix I watch turn into gay sausage fest flix? I guess that’s why I write gay horror that takes place in an all-male city…to fill a void in my horror life.
Anyway, when the girls first set off into the woods, they run into the sheriff, who warns them not to go into the mountains because crazy violent pot growers reside there. Personally, to me the mountains and the woods are the same shit, so I would stop dead in my tracks and walk right back out of those damn woods at that very moment. But I wouldn’t have to, because I’d still be at home in my Dan Cave, having turned down my friends’ invitation to go camping in the first place.
Considering like half these girls turn out to be lesbians, they’ve got more balls than me, so they don’t even give killer pot growers a second thought. Naturally, someone has come down from the mountains, and the kills absolutely rock. However, this is one of those slashers in which random characters pass through just so they can be killed off, therefore nothing is integral to the plot…or integral to moving it forward. It’s really just a movie for the sake of people being slashed.
The film is at its best when the killer finally targets the girls, with suspense, chases, and a great battle to the death, at which point things even get rather funny.
I also get the impression that 4/20 Massacre is supposed to take place in the 80s, considering there are no cell phones and the girls have a cassette player. As a bonus, the soundtrack is loaded with tracks by now wave artist Sleeping Wolf, who I will definitely be playing on my Future Flashbacks show. Damn. I sure do know how to make a blog about horror movies all about me.