Once in a while, you just need a muscle stud to come kick monster ass in your horror film. Hunky Paul Logan (have to keep telling myself not to accidentally type Paul Hogan) has been building his horror resume with films like Way of the Vampire, Crippled Creek, Komodo vs. Cobra, Cannibal Taboo, Vampire in Vegas, Mega Piranha, and CobraGator under his belt (which is where I want to be). But I’m not looking at any of those. I’m taking on Paul’s zombie flick Code Red and his backwoods horror flick The Horde.
CODE RED (2013)
Code Red opens with a gory, horrific World War II battle scene, and I was immediately put at ease to see that this was a top-notch, gritty production rather than SyFy quality crap.
Flash ahead to the present, and Logan is sent into Bulgaria after biochemical remnants from the war start bringing the dead back to life and turning them into raging maniacs.
The action and suspense are fast and tight, especially after Paul ends up as the guardian of a young girl in the decimated quarantine zone of a city.
The frenetic infected are hardcore gross, with faces that are virtually chop meat, and the little girl manages to get herself into some terrifying predicaments.
Logan’s onscreen presence is that dose of comfort you need. He is such a great hero figure, and you always feel like things will work out okay when he’s around.
But damn, not even that can stop Code Red from coming to one serious doomsday conclusion. There isn’t a light moment in this dark zombie apocalypse flick.
THE HORDE (2016)
Not to be confused with the amazing 2009 zombie film of the same name, Logan’s The Horde is actually a backwoods slasher that is more like a SyFy approach to Wrong Turn and is directed by Jared Cohn, who did the films Little Dead Rotting Hood and Hold Your Breath.
Logan plays an ex-SEAL accompanying his teacher girlfriend and her students on a field trip into the woods. Not unlike Henry Rollins in Wrong Turn 2, Logan is the military man who has the experience to pretty much take down an entire horde of cannibal inbreeds on his own.
At first, I was put at ease as the usual shenanigans took place, with the kids being harassed by rednecks in a bar and Logan coming in to save the day.
So I did not see the hardcore turn the film was going to take for a short time. What initially begins as simple slasher style takedowns of some of the kids morphs into torture porn, complete with mutilation and rape. It was at this point that I was like, “Where the FUCK is Logan to save the day?”
Once he does get into gear, the film becomes exactly the kind of action horror you’d expect, complete with some cheesy CGI effects that don’t fit the darker tone of the initial horror scenes.
There’s even a car chase and a shootout, but it’s definitely a relief after the heinous flirtations with cruelty in the center of the film. As an added incentive to watch, there are appearances by horror icon Bill Moseley, former NFL player Matthew Willig, and Costas Mandylor of the Saw series.
Unfortunately, there is one glaring issue for me in this otherwise cliché but entertaining flick: the gay classmate caricature. Timeliness is everything, and this kid plays right into the hands of Trump’s America. He is a rich, bitchy, loathsome queen that anyone watching will want to see tortured mercilessly. It could be argued that his sexuality is never defined, but he is the only one in the group that expresses no interest in sex. For fuck’s sake, he’s in the forest with Paul Logan and he never springs a woody. The history of celluloid shows that film is infamous for portraying gay characters simply by implying their gayness through stereotypes (such as a sweater tied around a neck) without ever acknowledging the sexuality so as not to offend audiences – they get just the clues they need to know the deal.
To make matters worse in The Horde, despite the gay kid’s sexuality and his hateful treatment of everyone around him, all the straight (and all white) kids are totally nice to him, making him look even worse. Topping it all off, he verbally attacks Logan’s military cred, making him a rich, bitchy, loathsome queen that –worst of all – hates America. It comes as no surprise that he is the only male we see tortured. Hell, even I almost started chanting “Kill the faggot!”
Not to mention, the only female we see tortured is nailed to a table and raped. Yep, Trump’s America will eat this film up. In the current cultural climate, expect a lot more of this in horror films in coming years. Help us, Paul Logan. You’re our only hope.