While not one of the best-made Italian zombie efforts, Burial Ground is unique within the sub-genre. Lumbering yet somewhat intelligent undead terrorize a small group of brainless visitors to a rural mansion. After a formulaic first half, business picks up with numerous unforgettable scenes and one-liners. An overwhelmingly awkward little man portraying a boy can be credited for the increasingly twisted chaos. Goofy, gory and outrageous. [rating: $7] –Kenyon
While “studying” in eastern Europe, three weak-minded girls become victims of a merciless underground network that kidnaps stupid Americans and auctions them off to wealthy sadists who apply various gruesome methods of torture. Unlike the first film–which packed a brutal, terrifying punch–Hostel Part II adds an additional dimension. Instead of relying mainly on the path of the victims, the winning bidders–two American men–are examined as well. These two characters are much more interesting than the three oblivious victims. Oh, you will find out why! Ghastly, bloody and fun. [rating: $7] –Kenyon
Wrong Turn 2: Dead End (2007) While the original Wrong Turn was a routine backwoods slasher, Dead End–featuring outspoken rock icon Henry Rollins–is actual a step up. And by a step up, i mean buckets of guts. And by guts i mainly mean intestines. Although it’s not for the squemish, Dead End IS a lot of fun, especially since several of the characters butchered by inbred cannibals are a$$holes. Turn 2 also improves the story by showing more about the inbred’s “personal” life and how they got that way. It’s actually rather sad, allowing sympathy for the freaks rather than for the stereotypical victims who are parodied by a survival reality show. Surprisingly, this is a satisfying sequel. It’s no Evil Dead 2 by any means, though it’s a few notches above The Hills Have Eyes 2 remake. [rating: $7] –Kenyon
The Cabin in the Woods (2012) Following months of buzz and high expectations, Cabin mostly succeeds in adding fresh life to horror. Not that it’s entirely horror. While making references to classic backwoods horror films (Evil Dead, et al), Cabin is a horror-thriller COMEDY that embraces witty satire. An evil unicorn sticking its horn where it doesn’t belong? That’s rich. Shoot, maybe it’s supposed to be straightforward comedy.
It turns out the big surprise twist is that among the young adults visiting a remote cabin there is a purposely token stoner who proves he’s the most logical, insightful and smart. Plus, he always has weed on him in the form of a joint or in a bong converted from a travel coffee mug.
Cabin in the Woods shows ambition, for sure. And there’s plenty going on to cause suspense, including a slightly overblown apocalyptic scenario. The effects look great, there are surprises and original ideas that build on old ones.
Still, too many questions remain. Why don’t the people underground who manipulate the cabin take this heavy situation more seriously? Why was “Merman” underused? Where can you get one of those coffee mug bongs? Perhaps answers to this fun pro-marijuana film will be answered in a prequel. [rating: $7] –Kenyon