Crimson Quill’s Appraisal #271
Number of Views: One
Release date: October 21, 2008
Sub-Genre: Backwoods Slasher/Comedy
Country of Origin: United States
Running time: 98 minutes
Director: Steven Goldmann
Screenplay: Timothy Dolan
Producer: Jonathan Bogner
Special Effects: Todd Tucker, Chris Gallaher, Martin Astles
Visual Effects: Joe De Robbio, Brian Dickett
Cinematography: Jeff Venditti
Score: Alan Brewer
Editing: Jarred Buck
Studios: Trailer Park Partners, Bogner Entertainment, Lightning Entertainment
Distributors: Summit Entertainment, Kaleidoscope Home Entertainment
Stars: Nichole Hiltz, Lew Temple, Jeanette Brox, Myk Watford, Michelle Lee, Ed Corbin, Ricky Mabe, Cody McMains, Hayley Marie Norman, Ryan Carnes, Stefanie Black, Matthew Del Negro, Trisha Rae Stahl, Brock Cuchna, Priscilla Barnes, Duane Whitaker, Tracey Walter, Dale Dickey, Brandon Ellison, J.P. Manoux, Tom Lenk and Trace Adkins as The Man
Suggested Audio Candy:
Matt King Waiting at The Bottom
Some folk are destined never to escape their roots. Norma is one such individual. Confined to a trailer park chock full of deplorable Southern-fried reprobates and no-hopers, she dreams of a normal life, white-picket fence, 2.1 children and being treated the way she deserves by a man interested in more than just her smoking hot booty. When her one chance at finding true contentment is squandered through no fault of her own, she is understandably devastated and decides to take the advice of a nearby drifter and get even on those holding her back. Within five impressive minutes she has been granted her bloody retribution and Trailer Park of Terror moves into familiar territory.
Steven Goldmann is already rather well decorated for his work within the country music industry and his sophomore full-length effort never has its tongue too far from its cheek. It wears its influences on its sleeve with pride. Based on a series of graphic novels from Imperium Comics, it also nods its caps to the EC comics of yesteryear, Herschell Gordon Lewis, in particular 2000 Maniacs, and John Waters, with a plethora of pink flamingos to boot. It doesn’t take long for us to know where we’re headed and pretty much how we’re gonna get there.
Moving swiftly on, we are introduced to a busload of troubled teens and their holier than thou pastor who, after the obligatory roadside accident in treacherous conditions, stumble into the loving bosom of their more-than-accommodating one-night host Norma. They partake willingly in her Southern hospitality and settle into her deserted trailer park for some much warranted shut-eye. Needless to say, a good night’s rest is not on the cards here as the buxom lady of the house is harboring all manner of zombified hicks, all waiting for some good old-fashioned yee-haw at the group’s expense.
The first thing that strikes you when watching Trailer Park of Terror is how, despite not having an original bone in its body, it appears more high-rent than other films of its ilk. Goldmann creates that trashy trailer park vibe effortlessly and a modest budget is put to stellar use. Where it may throw certain addressees is with its sudden shift in tone at around the halfway mark. While never the most solemn film in existence, it does play things straight-faced or, at least for the first forty-five. Once Norma’s supporting cast come into play however, things take a distinct turn for the more humorous and this may well alienate some of its core audience.
Having said that, 98 minutes passes like a ferret in a flume and the latter stages could never be accused of sagging in the slightest. Once it works out what it wishes to be for the remainder and we readjust our expectation accordingly, it becomes a rumbustious rip-roaring rollercoaster ride around the outskirts of hell and barely lets up as it hurtles towards a satisfying and surprisingly heartfelt conclusion. There are no real revelations, the fodder is indeed that although, at least, they are given time for Timothy Dolan’s screenplay to flesh them out just enough. All the usual stereotypes are present and correct and the kids play their part with relative gusto.
The real stars here though are those rednecks. These include a spiteful Asian masseuse with a penchant for happy endings, an overfed momma who can sniff your gammon from a country mile off and lacks anything regarding etiquette, and a rockabilly Elvis-type who croons from the rooftops. In many ways, it bares similarities to Matthew Leutwyler’s Dead & Breakfast and Tim Sullivan’s 2001 Maniacs although Goldmann’s movie is far less campy in its implementation than either and all the better for it. In addition, there is the more methodical zombie who relishes in deep-frying his victims in search of that elusive prize-winning jerky. Leading breasts-first from the front, Nichole Hiltz is marvelous as Norma and Trace Adkins is put to good use book-ending events as our demonic drifter.
The FX is something of a mixed bag. While the zombie make-up is literally astounding and clearly the work of great care and attention, some of the splatter fails to shine quite so brightly. For a film based around poor white trash it is also surprisingly respectful in its approach to both gore and T&A, hinting at atrocities which it hasn’t the intention of lingering on and keeping bare flesh to a distinct premium. Did this leave me slightly disappointed? Hell yes it did, we’re all adults here after all, if I wanted tender loving care then I’d watch Beaches. Not nearly mean-spirited as it has every right in being, that’s not to say it ends well for our cantankerous teens.
There’s more than enough batter on these here bones to justify a move into franchise territory. The gloriously animated trash of the title are great value and, if anything, deserve a little more screen time than given here. If you’re searching for dark and nasty then you may find the lighter tone of the tail-end mildly off-putting but, should you be searching purely for kicks and not go expecting the Coens when it comes to the belly laughs, then you should get exactly what you come for. A hootenanny of sorts and more than enough reason to break out the banjo.
Crimson Quill’s Judgement: 7/10
Grue Factor: 3/5
For the Grue-Guzzlers & Pelt-Nuzzlers: There’s plenty of testosterone and estrogen flying around but the titties stay firmly entrenched in their paddocks. Where grue is concerned, there is a fair quota of decapitation, disembowelment, dismemberment and a particularly wicked deep-fat frying which gives fair indication of how KFC wings make it from slab to bucket. None too shabby although the debauched slither of my cerebellum would have liked just a dash more depravity.
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