Wednesday, July 13, 2011

DVD Review: RED RIVER (2010)

RED RIVER (2010)
Rating: Unrated
Duration: 77mins
Video:1.85:1 Letterboxed Widescreen
Audio: Dolby Digital Stereo

Director: Jacob Ennis
Cast: Megan Marie Wilson, Ronica Jones, Dustin Roe, Jason Crowe
Tagline:The Lucky Ones Will Die

Director Jacob Ennis's backwoods slasher RED RIVER is set in rural Kentucky and opens with two Kentucky State Park Rangers on patrol who discover possible human skeletal remains near the dilapidated Thatcher house. They search the property and discover some odd skeletal art and some apparently human eyeballs in a canning jar. That's pretty alarming on it's own but it's when they discover a woman held captive in a cage, a deformed freak on a chain, and encounter old man Thatcher (Dave Haney) that the shit really hits the fan. Thatcher's one of those buttoned-down weirdos, whom by day is a snake-handling Christian, a respected member of the community and a successful small business owner who turns a tidy profit selling homemade fertilizer with one very special  ingredient, wanna guess what it is? Roland feeds the scraps of his victims to his cannibal-freak son Hamburger Head (Jason Crowe) whom he keeps in the basement chained to a dog house. Thatcher is quite the character, true to his twisted religious beliefs he performs a baptism of sorts upon his victims. It's bizarre stuff as he quips religion with the assistance of a mechanical larynx, apparently having lost the use of his own vocal chords.
When a group of teens from the city set up camp on the fringes of his property for a wild weekend of smokin' weed and skinny dippin' you know it won't be long before Roland takes 'em out. Once the campfire stories are told, the marshmallows are toasted and the titties come out to play (the first of many) Roland wastes little time stalking and dispatching the stoners in a series of satisfyingly grisly kills. The deaths are top-notch and there's a little bit of everything here for the gore enthusiast including a new one on me; a rotor-tiller kill, which was pretty sweet. RED RIVER packs quite a punch for a micro-budgeted gore-flick. It's knee-deep in viscera and splattered in blood, very gruesome stuff and it was great to see the use of practical gore effects instead of relying on lame CGI, fun stuff.

The art design here is pretty great, too. Ennis wisely chose to use existing rustic dwellings and it pays off big from a production values standpoint, giving the film a look beyond it's meager budget. Story wise it's a pretty classic backwoods slasher we've seen countless times, hapless city folk venture into the wilderness and incur the wrath of the scary rural folk, it's borrows from THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (1977), WRONG TURN (2003), THE HILLS HAVE EYE (1977), and even THE UNSEEN (1980). The acting is amateur but the characters are fun stereotypes. Haney's portrayal of Thatcher is perhaps a tad bit over the top, but it's fun. I felt some of the humor is a bit much (Ranger Ennis) but it's not what I would classify as a comedy-horror, it's pretty straight-faced with some humorous elements.
DVD: The film is presented in interlaced 1.85:1 non-anamorphic widescreen with no subtitle options. It's a good looking film, shot on the cheap but well shot. Colors are good, detail and black levels are decent but there is noticeable combing effects throughout. The fidelity of the stereo audio is likewise decent though the mechanical larynx is a bit hard to decipher at times. The DVD is crammed with sweet supplementals beginning with an informative behind-the-scenes doc chronicling the making of the film from script, special effects, locations, and on through to the finish. The 'Creating a Monster'  featurette documents the creation of Hamburger Head make-up from pouring the mold to a cool  time lapse of the actual sculpting of the features. The 'Deleted Scenes'  flesh out a few scenes but were rightfully excised and 'Video Blog: On Location' is video footage from location scouting trips, no dialogue, just video and fourscore. Rounding out the features is 'Bloody Earth Film's Trailer Vault' featuring 6 films trailer including Jacob Ennis's previous film STASH.

Special Features:
- Creating a Monster (9:19) Letterboxed
- Video Blog - On Location (8:00) Letterboxed
- Deleted Scenes (4:08) Letterboxed
- The River Runs Red: The Making of Red River (36:26) Letterboxed
- Bloody Earth Film's Trailer Vault: A FEAST OF FLESH (1:12), AMERICAN PUNKS (1:49), BLOOD AND SEX NIGHTMARE (1:08), SHOCK FESTIVAL (0:46), STASH (1:58)

Verdict: One of the bloodiest shot-on-video entries I've seen in a while. RED RIVER is a classic backwoods slasher with just enough new elements to keep it from becoming a tired genre rehash. At just 77 mins it's all killer and no filler, steeped in gore and loaded with nudity, this one is sure to please horror fans. 3.5 outta 5