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Trailer Park of Terror
One assumes - rightfully or wrongfully - that the individuals living in America's trailer parks are pretty sick and tired of being pegged as perverted throwbacks. Sure, as someone once said, all stereotypes have a minor basis in reality, but the media has made those who choose the prefabricated lifestyle into Deliverance-level reprobate. In the world of the double wide, everyone is broke, toothless, drunk, dirty, obsessed with porn and/or its bestiality-based subgenre, is interrelated, biologically and chromosomally defective, and given over to fits of fatty foods, deep fried entrails, and shared STDs. And that's just the positives. So naturally, when someone decides to set a horror film within the confines of mobile home community, you just know it's going to be soaked in the stink of a dozen unnecessary clichés. Oddly enough, Trailer Park of Terror does something even more offensive. It finds a way to turn a potentially entertaining splatter fest into one of the dullest experiences of this post-Halloween season.
Back in the '80s, young Norma lost her only chance at real love. After meeting up with a weird stranger along the side of the road, she decides to get even. Taking a weird shotgun, she murders the entire population of her trailer park and then sets the locale ablaze. Soon, the former site has a reputation of being haunted. Over the decades, several people have gone missing in the area, and the locals know to avoid it at all costs. When a van filled with troubled teens has an accident nearby, their pastor chaperone decides to go looking for help. They all end up in a revived version of the place - and under attack from a pack of hillbilly zombies. Seems Norma is back, and she's brought her collection of backwoods victims with her...and all they want is a little gore drenched remuneration.
Lord, does this movie have pacing problems. The pre-credit introduction of poor, put upon Norma is so long and drawn out that, when blood is finally spilled, we've forgotten this is supposed to be scary. Instead, director Steven Goldman treats the material like it's a turgid Lifetime drama, accenting elements and narrative plotpoints that will eventually lead to creepshow dead ends. It's as if our filmmaker watched Rob Zombie's The Devil's Rejects one too many times, and then randomly selected the parts he liked - the BORING parts. So we get seedy homemade porno, the further degradation of Priscilla Barnes, lots of oily hairdos, random Elvis-ing, and an anarchic, 'anything for a thrill' aesthetic that while successful for the House of 1000 Corpses sequel, just stinks here. There's also a real waste of some sensational '80s era monster make-up. All the hillbilly horrors look amazing, their features full of detail and death mask menace. But Goldman waits until almost an hour into the movie to make the reveal. In between we waste our time watching unimportant victim fodder act like idiots.
Indeed, there hasn't been a bigger waste of a corpse pool since Jason Voorhees hit Manhattan. All the over-aged adolescents are horrible, grade-D morons who deserve every gore-laced atrocity they endure. Only our Goth gal maintains any real sense of dignity, and even then she simply becomes a bookending device for the storyline. Everyone else taxes your irritating character tolerance levels. The Tales from the Crypt way in which they die is also rather aggravating. If someone loves smut, you know they're bound to die via vice. Similarly, an obese babe with a penchant for drugs will surely wind up vivisected while high - and think it's really funny...at first. The constantly copulating lovers are tormented while in the act, and someone's gonna end up in the jerky hut. That's a given. Between the various rip-off references to other films (Hostel, Motel Hell, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre II) we have to suffer through amateur acting, a lack of suspense, and some of the worst boogie based rock and roll since Molly Hatchet stopped flirting with disaster.
In fact, most of Trailer Park of Terror consists of interesting ideas gone very, very bad. There are good intentions and blind ambitions everywhere, and yet the stop/start way Goldman handles the material keeps us from getting in the groove. This is the kind of film that should be wild, unbridled, and just a tad dangerous. The killers should be both comical and relentless, never once giving in or letting their personalities drive the dread. The exact opposite happens, however, lame gallows humor taking the place of anything remotely scary. While the F/X are good and some of the splatter elements are nice and icky, Trailer Park of Terror can't help but be as tiresome as a visit to the rundown rendering plant. Had Goldman simply excised most of the flashback material, addressing necessary backstory with a clever montage or two, we'd have a much tighter, much more entertaining experience. As it stands, this is yet another bellwether of the genre's cyclical nature. One year terror is a treat. The next, it's as exciting as the doilies in grandma's odiferous homestead. P.U.
Summit Entertainment, which is a lot like Lionsgate without the penchant for releasing every piece of homemade mediocre macabre that floats in over its transom, does a decent job with this DVD transfer. The 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen image has that distinct, now derivative Saw style green/brown/grey color scheme, and the overall look is detailed and quite impressive. The contrasts are handled with precision, and the inclusion of some unrated material (not necessarily all gore, FYI) is handled flawlessly. Overall, this is a professional looking presentation.
On the sound side of things, the Dolby Digital 5.1 is very good. The speakers get a good workout during the musical numbers, and the back channels provide a nice amount of pre-scare ambience. While not really reference quality, the aural aspects of this release are fairly top notch.
Aside from two different versions of the film (R and Un- rated) and a featurette offering some interviews with the trailer park zombies, the added content here is rather unexceptional. Sure, the creature Q&A is fun, but a little of the living dead material goes a long, long way.
Let's face it - any film which references Herschell Gordon Lewis' Two Thousand Maniacs both in its prologue and in its overall plotting has a lot to live up to. The moviemaking maverick and Godfather of Gore may not have been Kubrick, but he brought an inherent insanity to his projects that Trailer Park of Terror sorely lacks. While some may enjoy its arranged irreverence and obvious attempts at humor, this critic was thoroughly unmoved. Easily earning a Rent It, this is one film that's a few fright effects away from a mandatory Skip. One day, the entire population of white trash nation is going to rise up and file a class action lawsuit against the continued defamation of their sons of the soil character. And while truth may be a defense, outright attacks like Trailer Park of Terror might just win them those possum-oriented punitive damages they'll be seeking.
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