Theme parks are inherently creepy, especially when they are empty, and at night, and so make natural settings for horror movies. A number of theme park related films have been made, and Scream Park is the latest of these. It isn't a cinematic masterpiece, but it does moderately well.
Fright Land is a theme park on its last legs. It's shutting down tonight, in fact, and its mostly teenage staff decides to have one last party after the gates close to celebrate the end of an era. Jennifer (Wendy Wygant) works the ball toss booth, and reluctantly joins in the festivities, more heartily indulged in by her compatriots Carlee (Kailey Marie Harris) and Tony (Dean Jacobs). Their boss Marty (Steve Rudzinski, an accomplished horror director in his own right) shakes his head and lets the festivities commence.
But something isn't right. Jennifer hasn't been able to find her boyfriend Blake, who also works at the park, all day and there are a couple of mysterious figures lurking about. It seems that the park owner Mr. Hyde (Doug Bradley, who famously portrayed Pinhead) has decided to go to rather extreme lengths to keep the park open. Soon enough, the teens start to die in rather horrible ways: burned to death in a fryer, disemboweled, scalped, etc.
Scream Park doesn't take itself too seriously, and is focused rather on serving up fun kills, over the top gags and excitement than honest to goodness tension or scares. It's moderately tense, and there are a few eerie moments, but this is more an homage to eighties slashers (as director Cary Hill readily admits in the commentary) than a straight horror film. It's not perfect, and that's to be expected with the small budget, but it is enjoyable. The blood and gore are well executed and appropriately exuberant. The performances are pretty good, though Doug Bradley's is so much better than anyone else's that it stands out significantly. The story is original and interesting. The shortcomings of the low budget (such as Rudzinski using a key to lock a door that clearly doesn't require a key) are more than made up for by the rest.
The film commits to its premise, even when it seems a bit ridiculous, and moves forward with total conviction. Steve Rudzinski is always a delight to watch, precisely because of this sort of total commitment, and Wygant is a treat as well. You aren't going to see finely crafted cinema here. It's the film equivalent of a punk band, with lots of inspiration and gusto, but without the money for all the bells and whistles. But you have beautiful people, spraying blood, psychopathic hillbillies, and Doug Bradley. If you enjoy low budget cinema, especially horror films, you'll probably get a lot out of Scream Park. If you don't, I don't know what to do with you. Recommended.
The video is 1.78:1 widescreen, and mostly looks good. The image is sharp, and we're always able to see the action, even though it's mostly a night shoot. The image does distort from time to time, and it's hard to say if it's a transfer issue or not.
Audio is Dolby digital 2 channel, and is generally good quality, though at times the dialogue is muffled somewhat, but still discernible. No subtitles or alternate audio tracks are included.
There are a couple of extras included. They are:
Almost seven minutes of flubbed takes and goofing around. It's somewhat interesting.
Trailers are included for Scream Park, Final Entries, Mold!, Murder University, Caesar & Otto's Deadly Xmas, Disco Exorcist and Exhumed.
The commentary, by writer / director Cary Hill, is the most substantial extra included, and is pretty interesting. Hill isn't the most dynamic person in the world, but he passes along a lot of pertinent information and anecdotes, including stories about the perils of low budget filmmaking, and that the actor who played the security guard Henry is the great nephew of academy award winning actress Hattie McDaniel. There is a decent amount of material here, of particular interest to those folks who might be inclined to make their own micro budget features.
Scream Park isn't a perfect movie, and isn't intended to be, but it is a fun homage to the great slasher films of yore. There's a lot to be appreciated, and not too much to criticize that matters. Turn your brain off and enjoy is the proper prescription.