It’s a Pumpkinhead look-alike vs. a Halloween slasher! Here are my brief thoughts on these two from the first decade of the new millennium.
Unearthed stars Emmanuelle Vaugier, who was a big time scream queen in the first decade of the 2000s (Saw II, Ripper, Return to Cabin by the Lake, Wishmaster 3, House of the Dead 2), and former Bros boy-bander Luke Goss, who has become somewhat of a scream king (Blade II, The Dead Undead, Inside, Lost Time).
The film comes to us from Matthew Leutwyler, director of Dead & Breakfast, so it has three things going for it right off the bat.
It also has a pretty cool Alien/Pumpkinhead hybrid creature…until the bad CGI kicks in. Granted, it’s not horrible SyFy Channel CGI, but it is the type in which the creature’s proportions get all fucked up whenever it makes quick jumping movements. You know the kind I’m talking about.
Not to mention, Unearthed is agonizingly slow. Vaugier plays a hot mess of a sheriff who is suddenly confronted with some mysterious deaths – of both cattle and people – in her dusty desert town. Early on, there are some pretty intense kill scenes in which we just get fleeing glimpses of the creature’s appendages. One particular scene involving a woman trying to escape through a window is particularly good. There’s also a pretty sick scene of the creature tossing a woman onto a stove, an explosion that sends Vaugier somersaulting through the air (it looks kind of funny), and a kick ass head split. Plus, one chick has the best response when the dude she’s with in a getaway van says, “Forget about the others!”
Problem is, all the action doesn’t come in until the end. Before that, there’s just too much talking and too much backstory. It’s a fricking creature feature! Just get to it! Unfortunately, that’s also when the bad CGI comes in, leading to an awful, anti-climactic final confrontation. It’s so bad that the creature literally just stumbles OFF SCREEN to die. WTF?
STABBED IN THE FACE (2004)
For reasons beyond my comprehension, I have yet to see the Cockface Killer films. I really need to erectify that. But my point is, Jason Matherne, the director of those films, brings us Stabbed In The Face. The title is a great throwback to 1970s exploitation horror films, but this is more of a straightforward slasher, which takes place on Halloween night.
The film begins at a Halloween party, where everyone looks fantastically 80s. There are even Iron Maiden and Testament T-shirts on display, plus debate over Freddy and Jason in a room covered in horror movie posters.
Then a scary story flashback shows a crazy lady killing a couple she finds having sex (complete with T&A and bush). The batty old white trash killer lady rules.
So the kids decide to head to the house where it all happened. There are plenty of disturbing visuals in the film (a guy licking the gore that drips out of a rotting corpse’s mouth is unforgettable), and there is some good 80s throwback horror atmosphere and musical cues, but Stabbed In The Face is kind of all over the place.
I was pretty much confused, between sudden shots of what is supposed to be the ghost of the crazy killer lady and a seemingly unrelated scenario of a guy torturing a girl.
None of it has anything to do with the actual killing that finally begins way into the movie. After a lot of nothing happening as the group of friends explores the house, rapid-fire kills begin. The gore is pretty brutal and there’s a chase scene, but it’s all set to my least favorite indie horror cliché – a raucous, no frills metal soundtrack.
By the time the messy twist came in, leading right to one of those “so did that really happen or was it a delusion?” final frames, I was pretty much over it. For me, the 80s throwback feel didn’t outweigh the lack of cohesion.