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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Trees
Trees
Other // Unrated // June 28, 2002
List Price: $24.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by G. Noel Gross | posted June 21, 2002 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Highly Recommended
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CineSchlock-O-Rama

While everyone else was consumed with spoofing The Blair Witch Project some exceptionally wily characters up in Connecticut had another blockbuster in their comedic cross hairs. Writer/director Michael Pleckaitis and producer Andrew Gernhard created a charming fromage to Stevie Spielberg's landmark fish story about a surly shark that develops an affinity for human flesh, and 25 years later, even the forests aren't immune from the ingeniously familiar horrors of Trees (2000, 85 minutes). Its cast's unwavering realism in the midst of preposterous circumstances easily inches it past other, more overt parodies, making it a potentially delicious diversion for every CineSchlocker.

The movie: Hazelville is an otherwise sleepy woodland community traumatized on the eve of Memorial Day weekend when the grotesquely mutilated corpse of a once comely camper is discovered. Ranger Mark Cody (Kevin McCauley) is so troubled by the attack that he quickly opts to close the town's recreation areas. Mayor Swindell (Raymond Michaud) and other money-minded folk won't stand for that, especially once fearsome rumors begin to circulate that a killer TREE is stalking the woods. Forced to keep the grounds open to the public, Cody and his homely sidekick Dusty (Lorne Lakin) attempt to keep a watchful eye over frolicking vacationers. Tragically, a precocious youngster ignores his mama's warnings and strays too deeply into the forest and gets himself chomped. This sparks all-out arbor-hysteria with amateur lumberjacks rolling in from all over the county to chainsaw the renegade tree. Meanwhile, Cody seeks professional help from botanical expert Max Cooper (Philip Gardiner) who readily surmises Hazelville's become the haunt of a Punus Strobus, or Great White Pine, of enormous size and appetite. When more splinter-riddled victims begin stacking up at the morgue, Mayor Swindell has no other alternative than to pay a gruff logging legend named Squint (Peter Randazzo) to guide Cody and Cooper on a daring quest to bring down the beast. CineSchlockers who find the flick giggle worthy will be pleased to learn an ambitious sequel, Trees 2: The Root of All Evil, is already in production.

Notables: No breasts. Six corpses. Man-eating tree cam. Pancake eating contest. Doodie shoveling. Gratuitous Blair Witch reference. Leg tumbles. Kite munching. Tent pitching. Hatchet flinging.

Quotables: Mayor Swindell fears panic, "If we tell people there's a bear in these woods, they're all gonna go, 'WHAT? HUH?' No big deal! We tell 'em there's a killer tree on the loose and you've got pandemonium!!!" Cooper assesses the mutilated corpse of a buxom victim, "THIS WAS NO LAWN MOWER ACCIDENT!!! No wood chipper! And it certainly wasn't Bigfoot! It was a TREE!!!" And a couple other choice steals, "You're going to continue to ignore this problem until it plants roots in your ass!" and "We're gonna need a bigger axe!"

Time codes: Young Joshua wanders too deep into the treacherous timberland (16:05). Oldest tree joke in the book (29:25). Cooper plays Show 'N' Tell with a pine's innards (43:30). The harrowing story of the U.S.S. Tigerlily (1:03:30). Wacky blooper reel runs through credits (1:20:34).

Audio/Video: Presented in its original fullframe aspect ratio. Image quality is admirably consistent throughout this low-budget production (that doesn't look it). Utilitarian stereo track that accommodates clear dialogue while showcasing Tom DeStefano's kitschy play on the Oscar-winning score by John Williams.

Extras: Not every indie flick gets a theatrical premiere complete with red carpet and adoring fans, so seeing just that in Plainville, Connecticut is all the more rewarding (13 mins). The must-see event caused such a ruckus in the community that even McCauley's PASTOR angled for a seat. There's also more than 30 minutes of individual cast interviews that delve into their impressions of the flick with a good bit of humor and without too much gushing. A completely extraneous deleted scene between Cooper and Squint (30 secs). Two trailers and two TV spots. Static menus with audio. No printed insert or liner notes. Here's a prime instance where it's a real shame there's no commentary track by the filmmakers.

Final thought: Sublime zaniness erupts from this spectacular spoof's steadfast, unblinking commitment to an utterly absurd premise. Highly Recommended.

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G. Noel Gross is a Dallas graphic designer and avowed Drive-In Mutant who specializes in scribbling B-movie reviews. Noel is inspired by Joe Bob Briggs and his gospel of blood, breasts and beasts.
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