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Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Hills Run Red

Well, after 3 weeks of killer-baby films, I FINALLY get to watch something else...about a killer named Babyface killing people to make a"real" horror movie. Oh well. At least this one trades in 1980's Michael Moriarty for 2009 William Sadler. I'd call that a trade-up. As always, SPOILERS AHEAD!!!

So, this week's slasher is The Hills Run Red. From the title, I was thinking it was probably a direct-to-DVD SyFy-Channelesque ripoff of The Hills Have Eyes, but it's actually a pretty decent film, story-wise. The premise is simple: years ago, a horror-film director(William Sadler) made a film so shocking, it was pulled after only 1 or 2 showings. A group of film students set out to find this legendary missing film, with the aid of the late director's daughter. Unfortunately for them, the film is still being made, and anyone who looks for it becomes a victim of the film's psycho, Babyface--so-called because he is disfigured, and wears a baby-doll mask over what's left of his real face. The disfigurement is also the film's opening sequence, and is actually pretty damn effective.

The daughter, a drugged-out stripper, agrees to help them with their project after the main character Tyler(played by the guy who was "Stifler" in American Pie's Band Camp sequel) gets her off the drugs. Getting her off the drugs is code for tying her to a bed, watching her de-tox, then screwing her brains out while she's still vulnerable. Uh huh. Along with best friends Lalo and Serina(who also BOTH had a secret fling, despite Tyler being in love with Serina), Tyler and Alexa go on a road trip to her late father's home to search for the completed film. Along the way, their journey is shown along with quick-cuts of the "lost" film's footage--and a menacing hulk in the background. filming them as they get deeper and deeper into trouble.

Now, up to this point, I still wasn't quite sure what kind of horror movie I was watching: was it a "movie-reality mixes with the real-world" kind of supernatural premise, in the vein of Midnight Movie? Was it a "psycho makes his kills into a movie, but not really", like the Scream franchise? Was it one of those "we're someplace we shouldn't be, pissing off the locals and getting ourselves killed for our hubris and lack of humility", like the recent slew of movies in the Wrong Turn series, or the remakes of The Hills Have Eyes and Texas Chainsaw Massacre?

In a word: yes. It has elements of all the above-mentioned films...Stifler--errr, I mean, "Tyler" drags his 2 friends and the stripper along on a road trip so he can make a documentary about the search for the legendary movie. Almost immediately, the group stumbles into a small hillbilly community and start to ask them questions about the film's authenticity. During the trip, Alexa starts having long-repressed memories resurface, which doesn't actually make sense(more on that in a bit, but it realllllllllllllly doesn't make sense when the plot unfolds). Alexa reveals that her father's house is nearby, and that he kept all of his films there. Okay, so off we go!

"Nearby" means about 100 miles away in a forest. At night. With a deformed killer filming them. Heck, add Chevy Chase, and you have the best Vacation sequel EVER. Oh, and in the forest they discover things like body parts and dolls, to keep them on the right track. There's even a nifty flashback showing Concannon filming a woman tied up by Babyface, and her dismemberment as she is literally torn apart. Spielberg has nothing on this guy.

At some point, they decide that they need to set up camp for the night. During the night, the hillbillies from town find them, and decide to rape and pillage. Bad idea. Babyface shows up and makes the townies into mincemeat. He then turns his attention to our intrepid film students, but settles on just abducting Alexa after a halfhearted attack on the group.

Separated, the trio wander through the woods, trying to avoid the killer while also trying to find each other. Lalo and Serina try to call the police, but are unable to give the dispatcher any information about their location. During the phone call, they suspect they are being followed, and fire a flare gun(Lalo brought along the flare gun, a pistol, a cell phone...he must've realized what kind of movie he was in, huh?) into the darkness, revealing Babyface, who was silently stalking them the entire time. After making sure Serina gets away, Lalo tries to divert Babyface's attention, and is shot for his trouble.

Tyler, meanwhile, finds Wilson Concannon's house and breaks in. Inside, he finds tons and tons of film reels, all marked as The Hills Run Red--including footage of his friends, Alexa, and himself from earlier scenes in the movie. Hearing Alexa screaming, Tyler finds her in the house, tied to a bed. He releases her, they escape Concannon's house, and they promptly find Serina...just as Babyface bursts in. He knocks out Tyler, and attacks Alexa, who reveals that she's working WITH Babyface.

Now, remember earlier, where I said that Alexa's repressed memories didn't make sense? Think about her character for a moment: she's luring victims for Babyface to kill, she's faking drug addiction(I guess) to gain the trust of the main character, and she and her family have been killing people for what looks like years. So why not just throw in some dialogue where she mentions her memories of growing up? Why have her fake amnesia? And since she's faking the memories, why show them to the audience as "flashbacks"??? All right, back to the movie:

Serina at this point is hiding, trying to avoid the killers, and looking for a way to escape. She finds a car to hide under, just as Babyface arrives. He moves into a barn and she makes her way to the barn's cellar(barns have cellars, hey I learned something new!), where she discovers numerous corpses and barrels of blood and gore. Babyface nearly finds her but leaves, giving her time to find a better hiding place. Sure enough, when he returns he can't find her, and he leaves again.

Turns out she was hiding in one of the blood-barrels. Covered in blood, she takes a lesson from Last Action Hero and manages to almost entirely wipe the blood off before she leaves the barn. Babyface, proving that he wasn't just born as a baby yesterday, knew she was hiding in there and waits for her on the roof, swooping down as she emerges. Yeah, sure.

Meanwhile, in another movie, Tyler finally wakes up. He's tied down to a wheelchahir and sees reels and reels of film around him, all titled The Hills Run Red. The director, Wilson("Wiiiiiiiiiilson!") Concannon is there to pull a James Bond, and tell Tyler his evil plan so Tyler can escape and get the upper hand. Alexa is his daughter, and Babyface is both his grandson AND his son! Saves a bundle on Father's Day and birthday cards, I guess.

He shows Tyler a scene from his original film of The Hills Run Red, where the actor playing Babyface is screwing up the take. Frustrated, Concannon is so fed up that he walks in front of the camera, yells at the guy, then demonstrates how he wants the scene done by stabbing the guy to death. Driven insane by the pressure to complete his film, Concannon makes all the killings real, which ironically gets the film banned for being too violent.

Wheeling Tyler into the barn(I haven't seen so many barn scenes since Friday the 13TH III), Concannon shows him that Alexa has tied up Lalo, and has him in a verrrrrry tight bondage-y outfit that is pushing rolls of his flesh through openings in the material. As she begins slashing at Lalo's exposed midsection, Concannon criticizes her technique, and an arguement between them ensues. The discussion ends with Concannon shooting her.

Using their altercation as a distraction, Tyler manages to free himself. He is confronted by Babyface, who appears as Concannon shoots Alexa, which gives Tyler an idea. Picking up a camera, Tyler "directs" the scene, and tells Babyface to kill his father. After seeing what happened to Alexa, Babyface is only too happy to oblige. Before Babyface can turn his attention back to killing Tyler, Serina decides to reappear in the movie, stabbing and impaling him with a skewer. Of course no one ever dies in these things, so Alexa pops up again to knock both of them out with a shovel.

When Tyler regains consciousness THIS time, he is in the mansion's "theatre room", surrounded by corpses, including the bodies of Lalo and Concannon. Alexa tells him that he will now watch the entire, uncut film. As she leaves the room, Tyler watches as scene after scene of carnage and atrocities unfold on the screen, including everything that just happened in THE FRIGGIN' MOVIE I JUST WATCHED!!!!! Geez. Taking a page from the Sam Neill horror flick In the Mouth of Madness, Tyler eventually goes insane, roll credits. At least HE got a good laugh out of this.

Oh, and there's another scene in the credits: Alexa walks into a room where she's holding Serina hostage. She holds the Babyface mask in front of Serina, who is now pregnant. So I guess if Tyler doesn't make a good Babyface, they have an about a decade and a half...

Eh, despite the kind of "meh" ending, I liked this one. No killer babies, no watered-down botched editting, and a killer who's not afraid to just say WTF, and pop a cap in a hillbilly. I do sort of wish we could have seen more of the "film-within-the-film", but what they did show was still fairly fun and gruesome. 4 Killer Trees out of 5.

So, what did The Hills Run Red teach us this week?
-You can't always judge a movie by its title...unless it's released by The Asylum.
-Stifler would still be alive if he had stayed at Band Camp.
-In the movies, people can have names like "Lalo" and "Wilson and Alexa Concannon", and it doesn't sound weird to others around them.
-I can spoil an entire movie about a killer named Babyface, and not make a single, sarcastic joke about it....but if the next movie's killer is named "R. Kelly", I can't make any guarantees...Same goes for the lack of jokes about The Hills.