Twice touched by Tara

I figured I’d make this a double feature blog since Tara Reid appears in both films—neither of which is a Sharknado movie. What The Fields and The Art of the Dead also have in common is that Tara Reid is barely in either of them, but gets top billing because she was in American Pie and Urban Legend twenty years ago.

THE FIELDS (2011)

I went in blind, so when the words “based on true events” flashed across the screen at the beginning of The Fields, I was immediately expecting to be completely uninterested.

But soon after Tara Reid drops off her son to live with his grandparents on their farm, my interest was piqued. We say goodbye to Tara for most of the film, and Cloris Leachman steps in to save the day with her performance as the grandmother. I can’t imagine who thought it made sense to have Tara Reid in the opening scene of a movie starring Cloris Leachman.

I was hooked once it became clear the film takes place during the Manson family trial. The boy is fascinated and terrified by the story, which infiltrates his everyday life and magnifies his trauma from having his life uprooted.

On top of that, his grandmother warns him to stay out of the cornfields, he doesn’t listen, and he discovers something horrific.

The film wonderfully builds a creepy slow burn and quite successfully puts us in the boy’s head. We are led to believe something terrifying awaits in the fields, but a lot of what the boy experiences seems surreal, as if he’s imagining it or directing all his fears into horror of his own making.

And that’s where this one can throw horror fans for a loop. It’s a hard film to market because of the approach it takes to make a mystery/thriller feel like horror.

The film becomes more muddied as it progresses rather than clarifying matters, and rather than a mind-blowing climax, it’s tame and grounded in reality, with a disappointing final scene that leads everyone to the field, including Tara. That’s what happens when shit is based on a true story…truth is rarely better than fiction.

ART OF THE DEAD (2019)

A crazy beast, plenty of blood, and cheap, tawdry, somewhat twisted sexual elements are a guarantee in a Rolfe Kanefsky horror movie, so they are always an instant blind buy on DVD for me. After Party Bus To Hell was released last year, I didn’t expect to get another film from him so soon. So…yippee for me!

Art of The Dead delivers bizarre, trashy horror reminiscent of the direct-to-video indies I devoured in the late 80s, and even has a few familiar faces to start things off…Richard Grieco and Tara Reid, of course…without them sticking around long enough to ruin it. However, Tara playing a minor role as an art dealer in this type of film just makes more sense.

The film is about a wealthy family that buys a series of animal paintings at auction…and doesn’t heed a one-eyed priest’s warning about the inherent evil of the art.

There are a few gratuitous gore scenes to warm us up, including one featuring horror daddy John Molinaro, then everyone in the family falls under the spell of the art, which affects each of them in a different way. The good news is it always involves blood and sex.

The hot leading man from Kanefsky’s The Black Room gets weird…after first getting some.

The hot son gets inspired to paint using blood sacrifices for inspiration…while shirtless.

The innocent daughter becomes a slut, the mother begins an affair with a demon beast…

There’s a lot going on here. This is definitely one of Kanefsky’s films that derails a little and also runs a bit too long, but I’m such a fan of his wacky style that I got back on board when all hell breaks loose at the end…including a character entering the world of the paintings and encountering some bizarre creatures.

About Daniel

I am the author of the horror anthologies CLOSET MONSTERS: ZOMBIED OUT AND TALES OF GOTHROTICA and HORNY DEVILS, and the horror novels COMBUSTION and NO PLACE FOR LITTLE ONES. I am also the founder of BOYS, BEARS & SCARES, a facebook page for gay male horror fans! Check it out and like it at www.facebook.com/BoysBearsandScares.
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