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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

WRONG TURN 2: DEAD END (Blu-Ray) -- DVD review by porfle

(Blu-Ray comments by Ian Friedman)

A raucous, tasteless, over-the-top, unapologetically schlocky gorefest--not quite what I'd call the first movie in this series, but that description fits the sequel, WRONG TURN 2: DEAD END (2007), like a bloody glove. Once I stopped worrying about how it compared to the previous film and realized that this is pure exploitation filmmaking of the sincerest kind, I allowed first-time director Joe Lynch and his enthusiastic cast to carry me away on a wave of pure giddy Monster Kid fun.

Kimberly Caldwell, who plays herself (she's supposed to be some kind of well-known TV personality, right?) dies real good in the film's stunning opening sequence, in which she takes--you guessed it-- a wrong turn while driving through rural West Virginia. First thing I noticed was one of those great shots where the camera circles all the way around a moving car and settles into a closeup of the driver. I love those! And when Kimberly is distracted while yakking to her agent on her cell phone and rams into a pedestrian, there's an impressive shot of him flying right over her head. So I already know that we have a capable director and DP at work here, and in just a minute it's clear that we've also got some really demented guys working on the makeup and practical effects as well.

This becomes apparent when the guy Kimberly just hit with her car turns out to be an inbred mutant freak who bites half her face off shortly before his equally monstrous Pa chops her right down the middle with one stroke of his axe. Guts splatter, and the two maniacs gleefully drag the neatly-bisected Kimberly away into the sunset. And that's just the beginning!

There's just enough story set-up to get a bunch of clueless city folk into the backwoods so that a whole family of cannibalistic mutants can terrorize, slaughter, and devour them. Henry Rollins does a great job chewing the leafy scenery as Dale Murphy, an intense former Marine hired to host a "Survivor"-like reality show that gets really real when the contestants and crew come face-to-face with "The Family"--Ma, Pa, Brother, Sister, and our old friend from the first film, Three Finger (played here by Jeff Scrutton).

But first, the contestants split up into teams of two and scamper off into the woods. The likable, down-to-earth Mara (Aleksa Palladino) and spooky Goth vegan Nina (Erica Leerhsen, who played "Pepper" in the TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE remake) find themselves hiding in a broken-down shack where they witness a horrendous birth as Ma squirts out another monster-baby on the kitchen table. Sister spots them peeking through the bedroom door and suddenly the two girls have the whole horrible family after them. This leads to another imaginative kill scene.

Meanwhile, the goofy slacker dude Jonesy (Steve Braun) and the gung-ho military chick Amber (Daniella Alonso) come across an unattended campfire where a big hunk of sizzling barbecue is cooking. The hungry campers share their ill-gotten feast with another contestant, frustrated football player Jake (Texas Battle), until one of them happens to spot Kimberly's tattoo on it. They've been eating her leg!

That's pretty gross, but even worse is when Brother and Sister murder yet another contestant and the act gets them all hot and bothered for some frenzied mutant incest. When our hapless campers stumble across the revoltin' scene, they find out that coitus interruptus is a killin' offense in that neck of the woods and the chase is on. One thing about the mutant makeup--it isn't quite as good as the Stan Winston creations in the first movie, but it's still very effective. These psychotic hillbillies make great monsters and the actors portraying them are totally convincing. The females make an especially interesting new addition to the clan and are just as bloodthirsty and feral as the males.

As the cast gets whittled down--literally--Murphy fights back with dynamite-laden arrows and blows up a few mutants real good. The survivors take on the remnants of The Family in a frenetic showdown within an old abandoned paper mill where a hilariously horrific grinding machine comes into play. Director Lynch, who can often be seen beaming with fanboy glee in the behind-the-scenes featurettes, throws in an obvious homage to the dinner scene from TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE as well as other references to the 70s and 80s horror classics that he grew up with.In fact, watching this film is like running barefoot through an old issue of "Fangoria."

This 20-Century Fox DVD has an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is in English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 with Spanish and French Dolby Digital 5.1. It's a little softer and grainier than the WRONG TURN Blu-Ray, but I think thats because it was shot on digital as opposed to film. It's pretty good, but not as good as the first. I do think that is partially due to the reality show setting. Colors are a little muted compared to the first one, then again it could be intentional.

There's an interesting commentary by director Joe Lynch and actors Erica Leerhsen and Henry Rollins, and a less interesting one with writers Turi Meyer and Al Septien. Featurettes include "More Blood, More Guts: The Making of Wrong Turn 2", the fun and educational "Making Gore Look Good", and something called "On Location with P-Nut", which I was unable to even begin to care about.

WRONG TURN 2: DEAD END succeeds in being what it sets out to be--a spectacularly gory and perverse splatterfest that's like a rollercoaster ride through a charnel house. As a horror fan who doesn't always require subtlety and good taste in my entertainment, sometimes that's more than enough.

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