Crimson Quill’s Appraisal #156
Number of Views: One
Release Date: June 2009
Country of Origin: United States
Running Time: 85 minutes
Director: Michael Hall
Producer: Michael Hall
Screenplay: Michael Hall
Special Effects: Julie Langer
Cinematography: Robert J Huntley
Score: Dave Gillen
Editing: Michael Hall, Robert J. Huntley, Nathan Nowlin
Studio: Darkstar Entertainment
Distributor: Robb Studios
Stars: Leah Rudick, Andrew Waffenschmidt, Joseph Campellone, Seth Stevens, Carly Goodspeed, Meghan Miller, Eric Carpenter, Amanda Rising, Kevin Shea, Mike Hall Sr, Phillip Langer, Dory Manzour
I make no secret of the fact that I yearn to be back in the eighties, practically live in rose-colored spectacles, and like nothing more than revisiting my heyday. It was the decade of the slasher, kids loved nothing more than to go to the woods and, true to the title, thy invariably ended up dead. It was no more than many of them deserved as they represented promiscuity and displayed all the tact of a splitting maul, ramping up the levels of obnoxious behavior and exhibiting little to no smarts in the process. It was just the natural order of things.
Recently I appraised Ryan Nicholson’s Gutterballs, a trashy slasher flick with both bowling shoes firmly placed in the eighties which had no intention of rising above the countless clichés of the era, instead celebrating all that made it stand out in the first place. Michael Hall’s Kids Go To The Woods…Kids Get Dead is another such champion. Shot on a budget of around $10k it isn’t afforded the eccentricities of many of its counterparts so Hall has had his work cut out even getting it made in the first place. A tip of the quill then as he actually gets a few things reasonably on the money.
Sonny Laguna’s white-hot chiller Blood Runs Cold managed more on half of the resources but that is besides the point, the fact is Hall has no real desire to make a serious slasher. Having said that Kids plays it straight for the most part over selecting the more traversed path of full-blown parody, but it is aware of each of its faults and wears them as broaches of honor. When assessing a piece of work as this it helps when the director makes his intention clear and Hall goes crystal here.
From the offset we are introduced via cable-style maître d’ Candy Adams who pops up throughout to punctuate proceedings with brief vignettes, along with spliced static, inane commercials and VCR filmed family footage. It sets its stool out straight from the traps and continues through the credits which replicates the Friday font to dispel any doubt we have over where this is headed. Once the interchangeable cast has become known to us, we are under absolutely no illusions.
The after dinner mint-thin plot resembles, bear with me on this, Wolfgang Petersen’s The Neverending Story. Let it soak in a little, there’s no Atreyu or anything as burlesque as that, but it does share parallels. Events on-screen appear to be simulating the chapters of a book perused by our geek of the piece Scott and, as the body count invariably begins to swell, the penny drops and badly imparted panic stations ensue.
I have seen acting much worse to be fair and, considering the slender kitty Hall had at his disposal to procure his cannon fodder, the cast do surprisingly well. Yes they ham it up a little but is that not the intention? In addition and despite the usual typecast assholes personas, its hard not to have a little empathy with the little bleeders. Tom and Derrick are beyond douche but their banter keeps things percolating nicely while we await the oncoming bloodbath.
They choose against heeding the obligatory warnings, partake in copious amounts of sex and booze and tease one another about their failing conquests, in true 80s slasher style. Meanwhile we bear with Kids as we await the all-important dispatches which could make or break the whole affair. When the blood begins to spatter, it does so with relative amplitude and again this is to Hall’s credit given the microscopic budget at his disposal.
He uses innate lighting and a filter to achieve the desired VHS effect and technically does a bang-up job. It is opaque that he too had a misspent youth and it was chock full of B-grade slashers just like Keeper’s. He too would have been fixated by titles such as Chopping Mall and Student Bodies, just like me, so it is hard to be critical of one so blatantly enamored with the era, especially given the purse he was afforded to make it happen.
The Killer, ingeniously branded The Killer, comes off more than a little Harry Warden complete with gas mask and eerily restricted breathing denoting his arrival. He cuts an imposing enough figure for sure, although Hall makes nowhere near enough use of him as the build-up to each kill far too swift to enable him to really put his stamp on things.
Kids Go To The Woods…Kids Get Dead offers entirely zilch to the more jaded amongst us. There is not a seed here which hasn’t been sown before numerous times and better, tension is at a severe premium and, when push comes to shove, it’s just another eight slasher homage with nothing much to pop it above your radar. 5/10 may seem a measly score but that’s just good enough if you’re looking for some featherweight stalk and slash frolics to make you feel all warm and nostalgic.
Crimson Quill’s Judgement: 5/10
Grue Factor: 3/5
For the Grue-Guzzlers & Pelt-Nuzzlers: Kids is fairly bloodthirsty given budgetary constraints and there are some decent snuffs to be found here. Nothing to write home about but more than enough stabbings, throat ripping and faces smashed into mirrors to keep us sated. Add in a smattering of perky breasts and I’d say we have ourselves a B-movie.
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