As you can probably imagine, my expectations were pretty low going into tonight’s Ghost House Underground flick Last House in the Woods. I actually only chose to check this one out tonight because it boasted the shortest run time of the stack of newer DVDs I’ve gotten from work. But, I’ll tell you what, I was pleasantly surprised.
I’ll get this out of the way in the beginning, this flick seems heavily influenced by Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Now, I didn’t initially get this vibe as you start off with a car accident and then a car kill followed by some character development stuff. It’s kind of funny because as the poop was starting to hit the fan I thought “Hey, this has kind of TCM vibe to it” mostly due to the shaky camera that added to the realism of the film. Then, not more than 15 minutes later, I’m watching a dinner scene and a mentally challenged killer wearing an apron hoists a chainsaw and hacks into someone. But, really, aside from these few minutes, the movie draws more from the feeling and themes of TCM without directly swiping. I haven’t seen Last House on the Left yet, so I’m not sure how much it pilfers from that or if it’s just a title nod.
I really wasn’t sure what to think about this flick as it started. After the initial kills the focus switches to our heroine who’s having boy trouble. It took me a few minutes to really start paying attention, so I’m not sure if she’s dealing with the same guy the whole time, but there’s a weird scene where the dude she’s with wants to have sex with her while she draws, to see what she’ll draw. Those crazy kids. Our main girl Aurora ends up in the woods with her boyfriend. They’re driving and stop to make out or something and then have yet another talk about sex (Italians are romantic, remember).
Meanwhile we get a view of three meathead dudes driving in a car talking about drugs and having sexual encounters with the ladies. The funny thing is that I swear I’ve seen these dudes while driving around Jersey. Anyway, I kind of like them right off the bat because they’re total jerks and don’t care and just seem kind of funny. That lasts about three minutes until they pull off so one of them can pee and then decide beat the crap out of Aurora’s boyfriend and nearly rape her. Jeez.
Luckily this slick looking dude who looks like a combination of Larry from Perfect Strangers and Ethan from Lost shows up and pulls a gun on the meatheads. They take off and the dude and his wife take Aurora and her boyfriend back to their place. Things seem okay for awhile until the dude hits on Aurora and then his freaking ugly kid shows up. And man, this kid ranks up there with the kid from The Ring as far as creepiness goes. He’s got blood on his face and sports a set of gnarled teeth that look more like fans. From here we’re treated to a game of cat and mouse as Aurora tries to escape only to run into some truly disgusting looking hillbillies (or the Italian equivalent) who are in league with the bad dude.
Enter the TCM scenes which are quickly followed up by the true game changer as the meathead dudes’ care breaks down and they end up at the bad dude’s house and decide to rob it. It’s really nice to see a new element injected to these kinds of movies. I may hate these guys, but the movie flips and makes them the heroes as they take on the bad guys. And there’s a real sense of dread as they wander through the house, having little-to-no idea what’s going on or how many people are in the house. And I really like the turnaround of the worst of them becoming the de facto hero.
I don’t want to get into the ending too much, but it offers up a kind of explanation for these characters and why their ugly, evil-looking child eats human flesh that at least makes sense. I’m not quite sure if I buy the resolution to the conflict, but I liked the movie enough to give it another view.
I can’t believe I haven’t mentioned this yet, but the gore is AWESOME. There’s a “dude trying to put his intestines back in” scene and a tumor popping scene. Oh man, they are squirm-inducing and awesome, but are never the sole focus of the action just a great addition to it. Oh and as a complete sidenote both of the main women in this flick (Aurora and the crazy kid’s mom) are HOT!
I do have a few complaints though. One is the lighting. It’s really weird. Even when it’s dark out there seems to be a lot of light. I don’t think it’s day for night, but it definitely does seem natural. The other thing that bugged me is the dubbing. I know that’s two dubbing complaints in one week for one film series, but it’s SO distracting. And I’m not even talking about the voices themselves but the way they’re integrated into the soundtrack makes them sound like they’re floating around and not nailed down in the film itself. They just don’t sound right and it has the potential to take viewers out of the movie. It’s one of the reasons I didn’t get absorbed right away.
So, here’s the current rundown of Ghost House Underground movies. Things are starting to look up!
Dance of the Dead
Last House on the Left
Brotherhood of Blood