Movies From the Black Lagoon: The Hills Run Red
Movies From the Black Lagoon
The Hills Run Red - 2009, Rated R
By Tom Doty
A film fan/future filmmaker embarks on a dangerous quest to unearth a lost horror film in this bloody homage to the splatter filled eighties.
The main character is Tyler. He is obsessed with the titular film, which disappeared from screen following a brief theatrical run. Apparently the movie was too sadistic for audiences (surprising really since anyone who enjoyed the seventies knows that the eighties ushered in a new era where sex was suddenly taboo though violence was still okay). He has only seen the trailer for T.H.R.R. and gets way too excited when he learns that the daughter of the film's director (the late Mr. Concannon) is currently eking out a meager existence as a stripper in a local gentleman' club (which is what these joints are called when they adopt a veneer of respectability). Alexa was all of 6 when she appeared in the film but Tyler hopes she can help him find a missing print of the epic as well as enough material to make his documentary something other than an extra on the eventual DVD release of T.H.R.R.
Before you know it our obsessed videophile is planted in front of Alexa Concanon and not trying very hard to convince her that he came for an interview and not a lap dance. Alexa turns out to be a great source for information though it has to be filtered through a haze of heroin and cheap liquor. Tyler opts to help Alex kick the habit by chaining her to her bed while she undergoes the agony of detoxing.
He then convinces her to allow him, his girl friend Serina, and his not so best buddy Lalo (who's been taking advantage of Tyler's obsession to bed Serina) to take her back to her home while they make a documentary about this lost classic. It all goes well at first and the film picks up steam as we catch glimpses of the original flick as they tour its locations. The closer they get to the film's origin also takes them further away from civilization. Lalo makes a sharp observation when he states that horror movies happen when people leave the city but everyone tunes him out-big mistake.
They are attacked by a gang of local thugs who are about to get all 'Deliverance" on them when they rescued by the masked killer (Babyface) that was featured in T.H.R.R. It's a gory sequence that sees Babyface defy gunfire and rip three men to pieces while demonstrating how not to use various bits of farm equipment. Babyface is a worthy addition to the pantheon of splatter movie maniacs. He apparently carved off his own ugly face and replaced it with the cracked porcelain visage of an infant.
It all leads to an incredibly tense finale that finds our film crew learning what it's like to be featured in an honest to goodness splatter epic as the victims in waiting. Turns out that Mr. Concannon is very much alive and just dying to film his magnum opus.
This one really works and it's all due to a sharp script by ex-Fangoria scribe David Schow. The director, Dave Parker, also shows that he has legs by delivering a horror homage that is often amusing but never a parody. He also stacks the deck by using young actors that can actually emote. That said they all pale in comparison to William Sadler (Tales From the Crypt Presents: Demon Knight) who pulls out all the stops as the crazed filmmaker everyone thought was dead. His character starts out as a send up of crazed directors but he quickly turns into the vilest villain in some time when it's revealed that he fathered Babyface by assaulting his own daughter. All that and you get one of the bleakest endings I've seen in a horror movie since George Romero had the cops kill his film's hero at the conclusion of his classic " Night of the Living Dead."
Best Line: "If you hear his rattle, then it's already too late."
Tom Doty occasionally emerges from the Lagoon to check his e-mail and to read to children every Wednesday at 10:30am at Borders in Hagerstown. If you'd like to get a message to him, write to: email@example.com.