Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Hills Run Red

I’m not snobbish about much, but as a rule I tend to avoid Direct to DVD films, and Direct to DVD Horror films especially. Fair or not, I figure if a movie can’t meet the low low standards of a Hill Have Eyes 2, then there’s little hope for it. But every once in awhile you start to hear a little buzz and get interested. With positive reviews from Drew McWeeney and Outlaw Vern, Hills Run Red was definitely such a case. I can see why it didn’t get released in mainstream theaters it’s a pretty strange film, but I can’t help but feel that it deserved at least a modest House Of The Devil style release.

Hills Run Red is a self referential film, but it earns its post modernism by also paying off on a pure genre level. Its not an annoying know it all film like Behind The Mask, but manages to play as a neat twist on the slasher genre without being beholden to it. Its kind of like the cool grownup version of what Hatchet was supposed to be.

There are the usual problems that beset modern low budget horror films. There are CGI gore shots, (quickly becoming the bane of my cinematic existence) aplenty, some amateurish acting and a few bits that are just looney tunes.

The problem with the modern day pastiche based slashers is they seem to agree with the detractors of the genre that all slasher films are are a bunch of kills and tits. The Hills Run Red God bless it actually takes the time to build mood and mythology, so that by the time shit actually starts to go crazy you care.

The Hills Run Red is about a film student who starts to make a documentary about a “lost” horror film, titled you guessed it, The Hills Run Red. Only a poster and a nicely done (though obviously digital) Grindhouse Trailer are left behind. It’s a good concept for a movie. Every film fan has come across movies like this, films that are just deemed to insane to actually exist. I wrote about my encounter with The Rape Killer at BNAT. And seriously lets say you where fucked up enough to want to see The Rape Killer, how would you go about doing so. Do you think anyone took care of the print as it was bouncing around in the back of a pickup truck going from Drive In to Drive In? If a major studio bought the catalogue of whatever piss poor exploitation company put it out does anyone think they wouldn’t just burn it? Are there teams of Preservationists working around the clock to save The Rape Killer?

Films disappear everyday. What if one of them was truly diseased. Statistics say its gotta happen. The only link to the film is the directors daughter, whose now stripping in a roadside bar in Seedyton, Fucknowhere. This leads to the most hilarious scene in the film, where our incredibly wimpy hero suddenly thinks he’s Lee Marvin, ties her to the bed and cures her of her heroin addiction in the space of a single montage.

It takes a lot for a movie to overcome a scene as silly as that, but to TThe Hills Run Red’s credit it does. Our intrepid band of heroes decides to go out to where the film was shot, like I said one of the nice things about Run Red is it takes time to build a general mood, things don’t get to slashing until about half way through the film, and by the time they do. Oooh Boy.

I have to commend the filmmakers for having the brains to conserve their budget. Its obvious there wasn’t a lot of money to go around on this film, but they managed to scratch together enough to hire William Sadler (AKA that guy whose crazy) for the pivotal role of the Director. And the man was worth every penny.

I’m not going to spoil what happens once the kids get to the set, only to say even a hardened genre hound like me was surprised (not so much at the big plot twists but there where plenty of little ones). I’m as a rule suspicious of post modernism, but Hills Run Red shows how to do it right, weaving its commentary in organically (For example the older killers are all old school slashers and don’t think much of their children’s torture porn). As opposed to Behind The Mask and Hatchet which did everything but have their characters turn to the camera and say “We’re being postmodern.” (Come to think of it Behind The Mask might have actually done this).

The Hills Run Red is an effective horror film with some good beats, and an ending that’s genuinely nasty. It’s a good horror film, but for a direct to DVD one its fucking Rosemary’s Baby.

1 comment:

Elwood Jones said...

This title I recently saw at my local blockerbuster and for one reason or another I didn't pick it up then, no doubt distracted by the prospect of watching Megan Fox in some other movie. Still I have to say that I will give it a look next time I'm there, especially as I dug the doll face killer on the cover.