JUNE 12, 2007
You know, ordinarily, I wouldn’t watch this type of crap. The whole point of Horror Movie A Day was to finally get myself watching movies people talk about and like. Movies like CHUD, or 2000 Maniacs, or Amityville… in other words, movies that had passed me by or were before my time. Not direct to video shit. Who the hell am I going to be talking to that requires me to have working knowledge of Drive Thru? Nobody that’s who! But this one caught my attention. In fact, the trailer, depicting a clown named Horny killing folks at a McDonald’s type fast food joint named Hellaburger, made me laugh out loud. It looked like a successor to Shocker or Dr. Giggles – a dumb, fun, jokey slasher movie that you can’t take seriously.
Well, it IS all those things, except fun. In fact, it’s awful. I might go so far as to say this is the absolute worst slasher movie I have seen since Dark Ride. I must laud whoever cut the trailer, because he truly made this movie look enjoyable, and did so using footage from the movie! Maybe if you are drunk and/or stoned out of your mind you will enjoy nonstop cheese metal in place of a score, a killer whose favorite weapons are apparently Avid Farts and the Optical Flow filter, a total lack of suspense, etc. I was sober, but I was half asleep, so I should be at least close to the target audience.
This movie pissed me off from the start, with the ever annoying “intercut credits with movie” sequence (after a prologue with some truly annoying stoners getting killed offscreen; a scene I THINK is supposed to be funny but couldn’t be further from it). At least some movies that do this offer two or three credits before quickly cutting to a scene, but here, it’s every other credit: Starring: Some No Name! Cut to girl on the guitar for 4 seconds. And Jan from The Office! Cut back to girl. Back and forth, back and forth. I don’t care if it's designed by Saul Bass, this style of editing in a credit sequence can never be pulled off in any sort of entertaining fashion (though Halloween 5 came close, with cuts to a pumpkin being hacked up).
The rocker chick (the cute as hell Leighton Meester, who sounds nothing at all like whoever is singing for her) is our lead girl, and her friends are all more annoying stoners. And worse: they are the most politically minded 17 year olds in history. Final Girl dumps a beer on a guy’s head because he is republican, blasts her mom for being a liberal hippie, and also points out that she is about to turn 18 and thus will be drafted. Another kid, who by my math would be born at the beginning of the first Bush’s presidency, claims someone is as “Dead as Nixon” (he also makes Captain Kangaroo references). So, because I have brain cells, unlike the writers, I immediately think “OK, it’s badly implemented, but the political stuff must mean something. Maybe the killer has something to do with a wars? Perhaps he was killed in action and has returned?” Later, an old friend of the girl’s mother runs into them at the restaurant, and we learn that all of the victims thus far are the children of a group of friends. “Hmm, maybe they accidentally killed someone at an anti-war rally?” Well guess what? Nope. In fact, the back-story is as generic as they come: yet another socially awkward guy is the victim of a prank that goes wrong, and now he’s back for revenge. You know, like in Terror Train. Or Slaughter High. Or The Burning. Or Valentine. Or a million other infinitely better movies.
But there are many more ripoffs to come! Since the killer is killing the real bad people’s kids, we can throw Nightmare on Elm St into the mix. And whole chunks from the climax are lifted directly from Happy Birthday to Me. None of which have the slightest goddamn thing to do with politics. So what purpose do all of the faux political references serve? Quite a few: it makes a bad movie worse; it dates the film; and proves the writers don’t have a fucking clue. Well done.
The idiocy doesn’t stop there. Final Girl smokes pot and drinks, but balks at having sex when she’s still 17 (even pointing out the possible criminal ramifications of having sex with a minor – again, while she drinks and smokes pot. Huh?). She’ll be 18 in a few days and wants to wait. She doesn't, rendering these scenes entirely useless. Speaking of Meester, it’s obvious that the producers instructed the makeup people to make her look as much like Jessica Alba as possible. Which just reminds one of another better movie: Idle Hands, which was also stoner horror (both films even have Sean Whalen) but at least that movie had the good sense to be enjoyable.
One of the stupider subplots of the film is that Horny the Clown continually warns Meester of his next victim, for some reason (come to think of it, “for some reason” would be the way to describe almost everything in this movie). He does this via toys: first a Ouija board spells out the victims’ license plate, then a magic 8 ball makes reference to another one’s tattoo, and then, I shit you not, a fucking Etch A Sketch draws out the logo on another victim’s shirt. It’s as fucking retarded as it sounds. The stupidity of it all comes full circle when she finds Horny’s old bedroom, which is filled with toys. She picks up a (totally different) magic 8 ball and says “Well this explains a lot.” Well, actually, no, it doesn’t, at all. How does a zombified retard owning a magic 8 ball explain how YOUR magic 8 ball suddenly had your name and a hint at the next victim inside of it? Fuck you, movie.
Let's move on to the CG in this film!
(The following is a transcript of a phone call I believe took place at some point during the post production on Drive Thru):
FX Supervisor Dale Tanguay: (answers phone) Hello?
Co-Director/Co-Writer Shane Kuhn*: Hey, Dale, it’s Shane!
Tanguay: Hey, how’s it going?
Kuhn: Good, good... hey listen, we just finished a rough cut, and it looks like we’re gonna need some CG effects in the film. Didn’t you say you have After Effects?
Tanguay: Uh, yeah, well, it’s just a demo I think… I haven’t really used it….
Kuhn: Great! You're in charge! We need a guy getting cut in half, a head melting in a microwave, a girl breathing fire…
Tanguay: Well I don’t think After Effects can really DO any of those things, at least not well, plus I only know how to make a circle slide across the screen-
Kuhn: OK, sounds good! I know you’re the guy for this! Our FX budget is 12 dollars, that a problem?
Tanguay: Well, uh-
Tanguay: But I'm blind-
Seriously, the CG in this movie is beyond amateurish. I’ve seen animatics in DVD special features that looked better. Composited effects shift around on the TV screen or whatever they are supposed to be superimposed onto, the digital blood doesn’t even look rendered, let alone color timed, etc. Maybe, if someone is foolish enough to give these two the chance to make another movie, and they can’t afford to do quality CG effects, they will throw a rock and find someone who can do practical makeup effects that look better than the best CG in the world anyway. Just a suggestion.
And why is it, whenever a horror movie has a scene set in a traveling carnival, the haunted house looks more advanced than the fuckin Haunted Mansion at Disneyland? In the real world, those carnival haunted houses are always the size of a trailer, and you go in a little zig zag pattern up the length of the trailer and roll back out 30 seconds later. Basically, they completely suck. But whenever a movie needs one, they look amazing. While not as hilariously overdone as the one in Child’s Play 3, this one still certainly looks like it would take a lot more than an hour or so to knock down before heading to the next town. It’s the rare fault in this film that is commonly shared with others; out of the couple dozen or so that belong exclusively to this pile of shit.
I started writing this review at 2:20. It is now 2:58. This means I probably spent about 37 more minutes writing my review than they did writing the script.
What say you?
*The other one is named Brendan Cowles, which is a longer name so I opted to pick on the other guy to save on keystroking.