Saturday, October 17, 2020

Three Films Make A Post: They Hunt...They Feed...They Kill...You're Next!

Contamination .7 aka The Crawlers aka Troll 3 (1993): Illegally dumped nuclear waste has turned the flora in some podunk town carnivorous, and now our leafy ex-friends use their prehensile roots to get at those nice mammal juices; the nuclear plant responsible obviously does everything in their power to hush things up. That description is pretty much the most fun you’ll get out of this late period Joe D’Amato epic.

It’s no surprise that this doesn’t work as a proper movie on account of a total lack of tension, a tedious script and horrible dialogue – that’s what you expect from this phase of D’Amato’s work after all - but it’s also no fun at all, lacking the craziness, weirdness and crassness you hope for from D’Amato. There’s simply little of interest going on here. The only thing which might cause a smile is how little D’Amato (or whoever truly did the final cut) seems to have cared if an actor flubbed a line, or two actors lines in the same damn scene, leading to an amount of stammering of mumblecore-like dimensions.

Devil Rider! (1991): On the other hand, I still found the D’Amato film mildly more watchable than this regionally produced direct to video slasher about an undead(?) cowboy terrorising what he defines as his own private territory. He’s also laughing a lot, in the sort of manner a three year old kid wouldn’t buy as “evil”, likes to talk nonsense, dresses in light colours and doesn’t even ride a black horse, making for one of the least impressive looking killers in a slasher I’ve seen. And really, there’s a reason the killers in slashers generally don’t use guns.

Apart from the crap killer, there’s terrible acting of the sort that still manages to be boring, terrible dialogue that only seldom becomes funny, and zero suspense – and all of it presented with all the gusto of a lame horse.

Demon Warrior (1988): Which actually leaves yet another regionally produced slasher, this one made in Texas by Frank Patterson, with the crown of the most watchable movie in this entry. Here, it’s not an undead/immortal cowboy doing the killings, but a Native American demon warrior returning every ten years to some patch of woods stolen by white people, following a curse. But don’t worry, there’s also a good Native American around who wants to end the curse and just might help some of the cabin spam walking around to survive.

This one wins most of its reasonable entertainment value from basic competent characterisation and dialogue, vaguely atmospheric direction and a decent control of pacing, all things you can’t expect from slashers from the late 80s. Hell, even the acting is serviceable, and while nobody’s death will break an audience’s heart, there’s at least as visible attempt made to have discernible characters slaughtered by the killer. The film’s also proof that while guns don’t work with the slasher formula, bow and arrow do reasonably well.

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