This batch of slashers from the decade following the success of Scream has it all: meta teen slasher fun, backwoods horror, and a touch of torture porn to round things out.
CHERRY FALLS (2000)
Despite some really juicy footage being cut from Cherry Falls and apparently lost forever, it’s perhaps one of the best post-Scream meta slashers that took an approach other than nonstop in-jokes about past slashers.
In Cherry Falls, when the bodies of slaughtered teens begin piling up, the deceased all had one thing in common—they were virgins. Suddenly, the town is in a panic, and the high school kids come up with a brilliant plan to stay alive—cherry-popping party!
This flick is loaded with familiar faces. Michael Biehn of Terminator fame is the sheriff. The late Brittany Murphy (still makes me sad) is an awesome main girl. She has a crush on her high school teacher, played by Jay Mohr, and her boyfriend is Gabriel Mann…bisexual computer wiz Nolan of Revenge! Supporting cast includes: Jesse Bradford of Bring It On; Candy Clark, who has quite the scream queen filmography, including The Blob 88, Q: The Winged Serpent, Amityville 3-D, and the role of Buffy’s mom in the movie; Michael Weston of Wishcraft; and DJ Qualls of Z Nation.
Like something out of De Palma’s Dressed to Kill, the killer has long hair—black not blonde—and wears a black trench coat. The death scenes are creepy, suspenseful, and intense. Plus, Brittany gets some great chase scenes. She also has a gay friend, and there are some gay putdowns attacking the masculinity of the boys at the cherry-popping party.
Um…you got some cherry juice on your face…
The final twist is a goody, and when the killer raids the cherry-popping party turned orgy, it’s awesome, although way too PG-13. How I wish the lost footage could be found.
DARK RIDE (2006)
Another one of my favorites from this era, simple and straightforward Dark Ride plays out like a modern day The Funhouse.
After a creepy-fun haunted house ride intro kill scene, Meadow Soprano leaves The Mob long enough to go on a road trip with her friends. After the usual encounter with a weirdo during a pit stop, they sneak into an abandoned amusement park. Naturally, they enter the still completely functioning haunted house ride. As always, this type of setting, with eerie lighting and animatronic creepozoids, guarantees tons of classic horror atmosphere and loads of cheap scares.
After the kids tell urban legends about a killer that once worked at the park, they split up for some sex (old school awesome). Out pop the boobs and the killer in a freaky white mask, the perfect complement to the macabre surroundings.
Not even Excedrin is going to get rid of this splitting headache…
It’s pure popcorn fun, loaded with great gore effects and a seriously in-your-face twist.
LAKE DEAD (2007)
Lake Dead is like a retro rip-off, in a good way. Totally derivative of new millennium movies such as Wrong Turn and The Hills Have Eyes remake, this one manages to capture the fun the multitude of slashers that followed the biggies at the beginning of the 1980s brought us kids who grew up on cable TV and VHS tapes. Sure, they were cheap copycats, but they gave you that fix you needed of seeing stupid kids having sex then getting slaughtered.
Nothing like a good old fashioned slasher fuck.
Here, three sisters get news that they inherited a remote motel from a grandfather they didn’t even know they had (okay…?), so they jump in an RV with a bunch of friends—including one chick’s sizzling hot boyfriend—and head out to the country, where they’re soon being terrorized by two big goons with long, scraggly hair and (slightly) deformed faces.
Despite being about backwoods loons, this one manages to focus solely on violent, perfectly gory kills instead of torture—although the first scene, involving a victim’s ankles, is damn brutal. We also get T&A, a crazy family, the old newspaper clippings scenario, chase scenes, and most disturbing of all…incestuous gerontophilia. And here I thought this one redneck was hot until he slipped his old momma some major tongue.
Word is this film was shot in the very same location as the 1980 film Motel Hell.
Kind of eerie to watch this film again at this point in time. Heavily focusing on politics at the beginning, it has a small group of Muslim thieves stealing a large sum of money during riots in Paris following the election of a conservative politician. They escape the city and end up at a hostel…run by a crazy neo-Nazi cannibal family.
Even though you’ve seen it all before, Frontier(s) has a lot going for it for a while.
One of the guys (sexy as hell with his bleach blond hair) gets his buddy to film him having a threesome with two chicks. Naturally, there’s lesbianism during this encounter, while male/male relations are scorned and the “f” word is used a pointless number of times, although the hottie below shows signs of what might be internalized homophobia. Yeah, I’m talking about you with your long, erect knife.
There’s a weird chick dressed in little girl clothes. There’s a gross feeding scene involving the feeding tube of the family’s mother. There’s an underground slaughterhouse with a butcher (why are they always big fat guys who don’t talk?). There are sadly underutilized, crawling life forms in the dark tunnels. There’s brutal violence and gore, topped with some torturous deaths. There’s also a fantastic getaway scene that will have you hyperventilating like you’re watching the claustrophobic moments in The Descent all over again.
Then suddenly, the movie, which runs too long at an hour and fifty minutes, begins to drag and is ruined by the introduction of guns, shooting, and a bunch of Nazi crap.
“Watch out! It’s the butcher and he has…a gun?”
Following a “dinner” scene with horribly over-dramatic music, the final girl just loses her shit, which is pretty cool, and she gets in some awesomely gory kills, but the tone of the film just completely shifts too much for my tastes.
I’ll put it this way. I love me some horror video games in which you try to survive terrifying monsters as you run, stealth, and shoot your way through creepy locations. I have no use for military video games, in which you take on other guys with guns as you run, stealth, and shoot your way through war zones. For me, it’s as if Frontier(s) starts as a horror video game and then turns into a military video game.