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Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Caretaker

After last week's fiasco, I had a few setbacks: First, my laptop went bonkers on me, to the point where I had to use a System Restore Point to get it working again. Then, many of the movies I had on my Netflix queue suddenly became "Long Wait"'s or the dreaded "VERY LONG WAIT"'s. So, after some movie-list finagling, I decided to order The Caretaker next. As always, it's SPOILER-PALOOZA time!!!

The Caretaker "stars" Judd Nelson(why Judd, whyyyyy? Weren't those 2 Cabin by the Lake movies a low-enough low-point for your career???) and Jennifer Tilly(oddly enough, I kind of feel that this is pretty appropriate for this point in HER career...I mean, she did play a killer doll TWICE! Wait, was I reviewing something? Oh, yeah....), and a cast of pretty much nobody else.

It goes a little something like this: Some high school buddies want to show their girlfriends a good time on Halloween night. Unfortunately, the girls are pretty much bored by the average run-of-the-mill costume party ideas, so the guy plan something MUCH more elaborate to impress them. It seems that their town has its very own urban legend anti-hero(don't the towns in these movies ALWAYS have a local legend about a killer?), a disfigured farmer(sorry, Caretaker) who was so obsessed with his wife's beauty that he kept her chained up like an animal in their farmhouse. When she tried to escape, he killed her and his legend became a DVD movie that I rented. *sigh*

The teens are pretty generic: we have Topher and Ricky, the typical dumb-jock types; their nerdy but resourceful friend, Snail; Sonya and Chloe, the girlfriends of the jocks; Ella, the new girl in school(invited as a date for Snail); a couple seen at the beginning setting up the farmhouse for the party, Missy and uh, WhatsHisFace(?); Miss Perry(Tilly), a teacher who shows up because she wants to be famous for having sex with her students(seriously, because look how great it turned out for Pamela Smart...???); and Judd Nelson as Ella's creepy dad. Oh, and a limo driver who is a weirdo as well. Phew! That's quite a list!

Right off the bat, there's a problem here: too many possible killers! Judd Nelson is obvious, because of how many of these dumb things he stars in. But how about the limo driver? Why's he so damned weird-acting? Or Jen Tilly, who usually comes off as a psycho even on her BEST days? Or Snail, the guy who doesn't quite fit in with his buddies? Hell, most of these movies have trouble convincing me there's ONE killer--with this thing, I need a friggin' pie chart to keep track of all the damn suspects!

This kind of leads into my second gripe about this movie: if you have a movie with around a dozen or so possible moving targets, why is it SO DAMN CLEAN??!!?? Seriously, this is what it would look like if Walt Disney had attempted to make Halloween. So many characters die offscreen, I began to suspect that the movie was pulling a Cry_Wolf, or an April Fool's Day. There are a handful of murders actually shown, but the vast majority are never seen clearly by the audience. It almost makes me wonder if this was originally meant for television.

Anyway, the first 2 to die right up front are the couple setting up the farmhouse for the night's festivities. The guy goes outside to see if he can make scary noises, while his girlfriend(Missy, I guess) decides to start stripping. Hey, even if the violence sucks, they got SOMETHING right! Anyway, she hears him die outside, but thinks he's just fooling around. Until the Farmer shows up to kill her as well.

Oh, and a few notes about the Farmer: I know it's called The Caretaker, but he's a farmer. Shoulda called it The Farmer. We never really get to see his face, because of the hat he wears to cover up. The flashback scenes explain that he was much less attractive than the wife, and as he aged he obsessed over her beauty. Also, his weapon of choice is sort of cool, in that it's not something you'd expect. See, he has a fruit orchard(specifically grapefruits, I think) and his weapon is a basket that he uses to harvest the fruit from the trees. It resembles a rake with a basket attached to it, except that the "rake" tines are razor-sharp. Neat.

Next, we get some scenes involving the limo driver and the blonde girl. For most of the film, my money was on him being the killer. He just gets creepier and creepier as the movie progresses. For instance, he tells the story of the Farmer and Tansy(the Farmer's wife) to the lone girl at the same time the story is being related inside the house. Apparently, as his fixation on his wife's beauty increased, he became less of a husband, and more of a prison guard, chaining her up in her room.

As time passed, Tansy began to lose hope. She realized how insane her husband had truly become after her mother found her, and the Farmer dragged her away from Tansy, presumably to kill her in a wood chipper, and use her remains as mulch...which we never get to see a second of And supposedly her entire family, as well. I guess he likes his in-laws as much as we all do, huh?

Desperate and alone, Tansy tried to formulate an escape plan. She seduced her husband with sex, and he seemed to become more rational again. Reassured by the change, Tansy stayed and got pregnant. She had the baby, and everything went great, until she suggested letting a doctor examine both her and the baby. In another jealous rage, the Farmer took away the baby and locked Tansy up again.

Tansy could hear her baby crying so she worked once again on an escape plan. She cut off her own thumb, and managed to slip the chain off of her hand. Between the blood loss and the extended confinement, Tansy got herself lost in the orchard. and freaked out. The Farmer found her, and took back the baby. He also violently pushed Tansy to the ground, where she sustained a head injury and died.

At this point, the limo driver starts making creepy comments, about how much the freshman girl reminds him of his daughter, and how "family" is the most important thing in life. How his daughter is his whole world... Okay, if he's NOT the Farmer, then he walked in from ANOTHER slasher film, because the dude is nucking futs!

So, back to our 3-or-so couples. They finish hearing the story of the Farmer and his gorgeous wife Tansy, and the girls scoff at the tale. The guys, eager to get the girls "in the spirit", break the tension by suggesting a sort of murder scavenger hunt, to find any evidence that might still exist of the crime scene. Even though the crime took place a looooong time ago, in the '80's. Or possibly the '90's. Uh huh, funny joke, movie. Can we get back to the killing please? The new girl, Ella, sees the driver skulking about outside the house, and tells the others. When they hear scary noises, they assume it's him.

Too bad no one told him. He's been outside taking a leak. When he gets back to the limo, he finds Ella gone, and gets freaked out by a grapefruit hitting his window. He sees the Farmer, who comes at him with his picker aimed right at the driver's face. The movie once again cuts away before we actually get to see him die. Thanks,'s like watching a porno starring a cast of people wearing chastity rings.

Before long, they've all split off into groups, and started exploring. They find the body of the guy who was murdered at the start of the movie, and begin horsing around. One girl even gets on the floor next to his corpse(Chloe, I think), and starts making fun of how cheesy the body looks. Until she realizes that his blood is all over the floor, and now is on her dress. It dawns on them that the body is actually, you know, a dead body!

They decide to high-tail it outta there, but of course the limo isn't where they left it. The jocks, Topher and Ricky, go off into the darkness to find the limo and the driver. They manage to find it, but the engine's been torn apart and strewn around the lawn. Oh, and the driver has deep gouges in his face, so there goes my theory about his potential as a killer.

Topher wusses out, and Ricky delivers the type of speech that usually leads right into the speech-maker's immediate death(think Sam Jackson in Deep Blue Sea, or the bitchy blonde in the first Final Destination). When they find that the driver's CB radio is broken, Ricky and Topher agree to keep the guy's death to themselves, to avoid scaring the girls. Or Snail. Geez, is this movie still going on?

As they reunite with the others, the group agree that it's a good idea to arm themselves. This leads to a genuinely funny scene where everyone gets their hands on crazy weapons: a chainsaw, a pickaxe, gigantic gardening shears, a rake, a friggin' spear... They all line up, just in time...someone's coming, and they move fast!!! Everyone assumes a battle stance, as they face an onslaught from.....

Snail. Armed with wood for the fire. If this were a sitcom, the scene would end with one of those "wonk-woooooooooooooonk" noises. They all mock Snail for being a pacifist, then moan and gripe over their own individual weapon choices. Eventually the scene ends with everyone abandoning their weapons and Chloe, the blonde from the limo, announcing that she's going to walk home. As the remaining group decide what to do next, they hear a car coming and hurry back into the house.

The mystery car drives right by Chloe, and stops at the farmhouse, as everyone inside tries not to have a shit-fit. The mystery driver is.....Jennifer Tilly. She's horny, and wants to seduce one of the boys into having a sex tape made, so she can leak it onto the Internet for notoriety. Yeah sure, why not? Makes as much sense as anything else so far....Um, does anyone remember the part where this is supposed to be a SLASHER MOVIE???

Her sudden appearance does serve ONE purpose: it turns out that she knows the Farmer quite well. They went to high school together, and apparently she had a thing for him way back when. So, when Topher refuses her offer of skank-sex, Miss Perry(see? I DID pay attention!) goes out to the orchard to try to hook up with Adam, aka the Farmer. Oh and a big close-up of her car reveals her license plate to be "HOT4TCHR". Ha! Oh movie, you ad me at generic and tedious!

The remaining kids find the Farmer, and they all scatter. The two jocks die first, leaving us with the 3 girls(well okay, 2 girls, since Ella decided to try walking home), Miss Perry and the Farmer. One girl hops onto a mountain bike and rides off, but is killed when she flies off the bike. Miss Perry dies after failing to seduce "Adam", with a grapefruit smothering her face and severe stab wounds to the throat. AMEN.

Snail and Ella(she came back) run back to the house, and Snail proposes the dumbest idea in the history of slasher films: he wants Ella to chain herself to the floor, so that they can fool Adam into believing that she's actually Tansy, and spare her life. Uhhhhh, say WHA--?

Snail forces the chain onto her wrist, and then the movie drops into "WTF???" territory. Ella finds her mother's earring on the floor, and picks it up, thinking it was one she wore for the Homecoming dance. Adam walks in, sees Ella sobbing, and spins around to grab Snail instead. As Ella watches, Snail is thrown to the floor and dragged away to be murdered offscreen(deja vu, anyone?). Ella forces the metal handcuff off of her wrist, and escapes while Snail is being killed.

Rushing outside, Ella gets into Miss Perry's car and tries to find the keys. No luck. The minute she exits the car and starts running again, the keys fall out of the sun-visor flap above the front seat. Oh well. She finds a few corpses before starting the long walk back to the dance.

A group of masked teens moon her along the way, but Ella does get back safely to the dance. She arrives, in fact, exactly as her father pulls up. She tries telling him that she and her friends were attacked, but he is eerily calm. As he tells Ella that no one is ever going to harm or take her away(he must be related to the limo driver...), she starts to put the earring she picked up off the Farmer's floor back into her ear. Problem is, she still has both of her earrings in. OH NOOOOOOOOOOO!!! As she starts to realize that her mother WAS Tansy, her dad drives away, with her screaming the entire time...He probably made her watch The Caretaker on the backseat television.

Not bad, considering the low budget and lack of good kills. The humor was well-placed, the atmosphere was generally good, and the twist was pretty decent. I'd give The Caretaker 3 killer trees out of 5. It loses a point for botching almost every kill; I mean, Gutterballs may have sucked ass, but at least it delivered in the effects department.

So what was this week's lesson?
-Judd Nelson and Jennifer Tilly both need work. Desperately.
-You can kill around 10 people and still make a boring movie.
-Grapefruit pickers make awesome murder weapons!
-There should be a movie called The Farmer.

No clue what my next slasher movie will be. I have season 4 of Dexter coming in, but if anyone who reads this hasn't seen the previous seasons, it won't make a whole helluva lot of sense. Maybe I'll go finish watching Bones and do that one. Meh. Decisions, decisions...