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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

CARNIVOROUS -- DVD review by porfle

A little boy named Alan Cade steals a magic "Kulev" stick from an old Cajun witch doctor, pops a crayon in one end, and draws a picture of a giant alligator-headed snake monster killing his abusive stepdad. Voila--one giant alligator-headed snake monster comin' up, and before you know it, bad stepdad is toast.

CARNIVOROUS, aka "Lockjaw: Rise of the Kulev Serpent" (2008), then whisks us ahead several years to find grown-up Alan (Louis Herthum) blissfully married to his childhood sweetheart Becky. But when a truckload of pesky teenagers on their way to a secluded cabin for the weekend run over Alan's beloved without even looking back to see what that "thump" was, a heartbroken Alan whips out the old magic stick again and starts drawing. In no time, the teens start getting dragged one by one into the sugar cane field surrounding their cabin by a big, mean you-know-what.

I tend to lower my expectations when it comes to low-budget horror flicks, so I'm often pleasantly surprised when they turn out to be pretty good. Unfortunately, the only way to not be disappointed by this totally blah film is to expect not to be entertained in any way, shape, or form. Aside from Alan and Becky, the characters are doggedly uninteresting and painfully unlikable, which is only made worse by some really bad performances. Even standard good girl Sam (Lauren Fain) and standard sensitive guy Kelly (Wes Brown) are annoying stiffs whom we would dearly love to see get eaten alive. Their moronic party-hearty cohorts are even worse, although slutty blonde Ashley (Victoria Vodar) tends to strip down to her red satin undies a lot and has an endearing snort when she laughs.

The film looks kind of like an episode of "Friday the 13th: The Series" only not as good or anywhere near as exciting. Amir Valinia's bland direction and a groan-filled script don't help much. The kill scenes are few and far between, and generate zero suspense. A couple of them, however, are amusing--one guy gets skewered while mounting his horny girlfriend, with the tip of the creature's wiggling tail sticking out of his chest. He deserves it. Another character gets summarily decapitated by said tail at such an odd moment that it isn't scary or shocking, but just sorta unexpectedly funny. As for the creature itself, it's passable, and certainly isn't the worst CGI I've ever seen in a low-budget flick. With more imaginative direction the creature scenes might've been somewhat exciting, but as it is they have little effect at all.

Rapper DMX, who's billed over the title, makes a halfhearted appearance toward the end. He's the grown-up son of the old Cajun from whom Alan stole the magic stick way back when, and now he's the only hope our heroes have of destroying the monster. I seem to remember DMX doing okay in EXIT WOUNDS alongside Steven Seagal, but here he barely registers. He's also one of the executive producers, which makes me wonder why he can't find something better than this to get involved with.

Bad horror flicks can be fun to watch if they aren't totally boring and you can laugh at them. It also helps if the filmmakers were obviously trying to make a good movie and failed in an entertaining way. Unfortunately, none of these conditions apply to CARNIVOROUS. In a word, it's simply--indigestible.


McClane said...

Fantastic review!!! I just wrote a huge post about this hilarious film, and I was delighted to see that you guys reviewed it on your blog as well.

If anybody gets bored or needs to kill some time in between writing more sweet reviews, check my post on The Tirade!

porfle said...

Thanks, McClane! Well, that makes TWO people who have seen this movie. Besides DMX's mom, anyway.

Enjoyed your thorough write-up of it.