Remember See No Evil? If not, I don't blame you...it was a slasher flick starring the wrestler Kane, and produced by the WWF or WWE or whatever the heck they're calling themselves these days. Wasn't terrible, wasn't a classic. Was just...there.
Anyway, I always figured that it was their one big attempt at a horror film, as most of their stuff is squarely in the action genre, but then I found River of Darkness. It's definitely a step down from See No Evil, but I'll pretty much watch anything for a laugh. Let's get ready to SPOOOOOOOOIIIIILLLLL!
First impressions are important, and this one doesn't start out well. It looks like it was shot with el cheapo camcorders, so everything on the screen looks washed out and cheap. Incredibly low budget. Also, except for some of the names of the wrestlers(and even some of these guys are unfamiliar to me), I don't recognize any of the supporting cast. Not even a genre character actor, like Sid Haig, or Jeffrey Combs, to enjoy watching. Damn.
Anyway, the movie begins with a woman named Autumn sitting on a bench in the midst of a winter scene. She narrates the scene, revealing that her friends were killed, and she was blamed for their deaths. And...then that scene just fizzles out.
In a toilet stall, we see a different young woman. She's dressed as a waitress and rolling a joint. Then she tells her boss that she's heading home. Boy, this movie sure is good at being exciting AND interesting to watch! Why couldn't I have developed a fondness for "good" films?
On a side note, I think watching all of these movies is giving me brain damage. Me no am smart no more. And stuff. Brain cells....dying....must....resist....
Oh yeah. I was watching this thing. So, yeah, there's a waitress, and she's heading home after her shift. On her way out, she asks another waitress named Lisa if she wants to share the joint, but Lisa declines, then gives us her lifestory. As our first waitress steps outside, some fog rolls in.
She walks away from the building to light up, and her path is blocked by someone wearing a long coat. The stranger, who looks like he might be comfortable in an '80's hair band, stabs the waitress right through her midsection, then lifts her off of her feet. Blood trickles out of her mouth, and she coughs up even more when her attacker throws her to the ground. Cue credits.
The following morning, the town's police force is pretty much all over the crime scene. The sheriff asks for details, and we learn that the waitress was named Amy, and that her killer strung her to a post after he killed her. Also, the word "HIX" was written on her body. The sheriff suggests that they check local databases for similar murders in the surrounding communities.
He heads into the diner next, both for information and a presumably greasy breakfast. He gets neither, as the guy running the place ignores him to chat with some buddies. While the sheriff tries to get his attention, a call comes in over his walkie-talkie, asking him to look at yet another crime scene. The sheriff leaves, and drives over to the local church.
The priest meets him outside, and tells him that a woman named Mary Rutledge broke a window and entered the church through said window. They head inside to speak with Mary, who is draped in black and fervently praying. The sheriff tries to ask Mary if she's okay, but she keeps right on praying.
When he raises his voice, Mary finally responds. She announces that "they" have arrived, and that "redemption is upon us". "They" are also going to spread violence and chaos throughout the community, and she tells him that he already knows about their arrival. Perplexed, the sheriff leaves.
Back at his office, he asks his deputy if the internet search produced any results. There were a few incidents of violence at the docks, but nothing connected to the current crime scene. Amy's body, though, did have one disturbing clue that pointed to a fisherman as the perpetrator: Amy's insides were yanked out through her mouth, similar to how a fish is gutted.
That night, is gets misty again. A pair of generic fishermen are doing some repairs on a motor. One is drinking a beer, and the other one thinks that it's affecting his job performance. The drunk asks his coworker to fetch more beer.
The sober guy hears a noise that sounds like a chain being dragged on the ground, and he stops to listen. The sound gets louder as he turns a corner, then it simply stops. Just as he's about to head back, a hand grabs him by the head, and he gets yanked onto the roof.
The drunk guy farts around with various tools while he waits for the beer, then yells out to his friend to hurry. He walks outside to see what the delay is, and wanders into the same dark area where the murder just occurred. His friend's corpse is left for him to find, with several long hooks piercing his head and torso. Then the killer plunges a blade through the drunk's back, killing him.
The sheriff is notified about the latest murders. He sees that the bodies are displayed like the waitress was, and he sees that word etched on them again: HIX. He asks his deputy what it means, but there's no easy answer just yet.
The sheriff asks a couple of older fishermen if they know anything, which they do, but they deny it. One admits that he's heard that word before, but he refuses to elaborate on the matter. As the sheriff walks away, one of the fishermen tells him to seek out a local by the name of Virgil.
Virgil is the usual small-town coot. The sheriff finds him at the local dam, feeding the fish. The men engage in a conversation about whether or not fish and humans have souls, then head inside the bait shop. The sheriff finally gets around to asking about "HIX", and Virgil tells him that it's the name of another local, Harvey Hix.
Harvey used to reside in the town, but now he lives somewhere called The Gulch, near a pond. Harvey was run out of town, but Virgil refuses to reveal who scared him away, or even why they did it. Well, that's helpful, huh? Virgil wishes the sheriff luck in his search for answers.
The sheriff locates Harvey's home in the middle of the forest, and he and his deputy take a look around. Harvey(I presume) pulls a rifle on them, and demands to know why they are trespassing. When they explain about the murders, he insists that he's not Harvey Hix, and asks them to leave him alone.
The sheriff stops by the diner for some turtle soup, and the cook decides to speak with him about the case. It turns out that the cook is the former sheriff, and there's been some animosity between them since the election. Oh, and the main character finally gets a first name: Will.
The cook, Clark, begs Will to let him help with the investigation. Then we get something close to a plot: Years earlier, the town lived in fear of a local clan of hillbillies known as the Jacobs. When the locals grew tired of being bullied, a vigilante mob, led by Harvey Hix, rose up and killed the father and both sons. Will thanks him for the soup, but informs him that the idea of the Jacobs family rising from the dead is nonsense.
Then we meet Wyatt Jones and his wife. They're an elderly couple, and they've just returned to their houseboat from a late evening fishing trip. While Wyatt begins the task of cutting off fish heads(roly-poly fish heads, eat them up YUM!), his wife briefly leaves the room.
Wyatt suddenly notices that the room has become a lot foggier than it used to be. Wyatt searches for the source of the fog, unaware that the Jacobs trio is standing behind him. He gets 2 blades planted in his back, then they furiously begin to chop him to pieces. The wife sees the killers and shrieks, causing one of the zombies to stare at her with yellow eyes. Remember that detail.
She gets herself to the diner, and tells the patrons that her husband was murdered by the Jacobs boys. When Clark(the former sheriff-turned cook) asks her if she's sure, she describes them, and their evil "red" eyes. Did you like that little detail? I sure did. Oh, and the Jacobs kin are named Joseph, Jaden, and Jonah. Uh, okay.
There's a very brief scene re-introducing Autumn to us(Remember her? From the first scene?), and showing her in a car with some friends, and we learn that they are paranormal investigators. Okay. So what? That's all you're giving us?
Yup. Now we see Will speaking to Wyatt's widow as his grave. Wyatt was her second husband, and she's quite distraught. When Will asks her to file a report with his office, she agrees, but complains that it won't do any good.
Autumn and her classmates pull into the gas station, and get directions to the river. When the attendant asks them why they think they'll find ghosts in the small town, Autumn shows him a newspaper clipping about the recent string of murders. Oh, and her 2 friends are Hunter and Mackenzie. Why can't people in movies ever have names like "Bob" or "Sue" anymore? And Smith is a good last name. Hi, I'm Bob Smith, and I'm here to do your taxes. See? Nice and simple and easy to remember.
Virgil is stocking his bait inventory, when the sheriff sneaks into the shop, and nearly kills the old man with fright. They discuss the incident that ended with the Jacobs trio being killed, and Virgil reveals that it started because a local woman claimed that one of them had raped her. After the group killed them, she recanted her story.
Will heads back to church, where Mary is still praying her holy ass off. He asks Mary how she knew the murders would happen, and she starts to ramble. He then asks her if Harvey's death will end the rampage, but she doesn't respond to that query either. Boy, that sure wasn't a complete waste of time.
Then we get the worst acting in the entire movie(so far!). An old man is in bed, thrashing around, and "wakes up" from a "nightmare". He's such a terrific "actor". He decides to wander from room to room, then comes face-to-face with one of the Jacobs boys right outside his front door. He gets a knife to the gut, then the other 2 monsters approach him.
Let's pause here for a sec. Y'know how, in the Friday the 13th films they usually unmask Jason at some point, to show off his gory makeup FX? Yeah, well, this movie makes even the worst "Jason faces" seem state-of-the-art by comparison. If you want to dress up like a Jacobs zombie for Halloween, throw together some oatmeal. Mix in some green food coloring. Then, just slather it all over your face. See how easy that was? And yours will probably look less cheap that this movie!
Oops, gotta rewind to where I left off. Oh. The old guy in bed was just dreaming. Well, that was pointless! Hey, is anyone else craving oatmeal all of a sudden?
Our "paranormal investigators" are drifting aimlessly in a rowboat on the river. Suddenly, Hunter reports that his EMF detector is going bonkers. Autumn shushes the others, and they all listen. The boat thuds to a halt as they hit something, then Mackenzie gets pulled into the water when she leans over the boat to have a look.
Autumn panics, then uses her oar to splash around a bit. A zombie hand tries to pull her into the water as well, but she manages to remain in the boat. Hunter just sits there, being a doofus.. He's a huge help, isn't he?
The sheriff visits the bait shop yet again, and he and Virgil have, what?, their third discussion about evil spirits. Man, if this thing removed every completely unnecessary scene, we'd be watching a 5-minute film. This is getting out of hand.
After THAT nonsense, we see a little girl and her mother. The little girl tells her mother that she's going outside to look for nightcrawlers, and the mother agrees. People are dying left and right, and you're going to let your daughter wander around in the dark, to look for WORMS??!?! Dumbass central.
At a different bar(Really, movie? REALLY?), the local drunks are debating the best way to handle the murders. One guy tells the others that part of the blame rests with Will, because he doesn't believe in God. Yeah, it's not a bunch of drunk murderers to blame, it's the town atheist. I'll agree to anything if you just get to a frigging point sometime THIS CENTURY!
Back to the church. Mary is talking to a mystery man, while lighting rosary candles. She says that killing for the betterment of society isn't a sin, then suggests that killing Harvey will end the rampage of the Jacobs family. Great, thanks for giving her THAT idea, Will!
That little girl is still looking for bait. She finds a big, juicy worm, then one of the killers finds her. Irony. Heh. At least they fade to black, rather than show a little kid getting slaughtered. Classy.
The deputy gets a call from the little girl's mom, and she reports that her daughter is missing. Get this: She tells him that the daughter went on her worm-hunt at eight, but the call doesn't come in until 11! Isn't that awesome parenting? What was she doing for the last several hours, tripping her balls off?
Another howler: When the deputy asks the mother to verify that her kid went worm-hunting and never returned, she says "Yes!" 3 times, pausing each time. Drama club! Acting! She and Wyatt's wife are serious contenders for Worst Actresses of The Century. The deputy tells her that someone will come right away, then he abruptly hangs up on her. She keeps on yammering into the phone, realizes that he's no longer there, then botches the simple act of hanging up the damned phone. High-larious. Comedy gold.
The cops and the fire department arrive, and they soon discover the body of the little girl. Cause of death was likely shame, over how bad an actress her mommy is. Will is again approached by Clark, who asks him when he'll finally admit that he needs help. Then both men share an awkward silence, as they struggle to remember their lines. This movie would be epic if I were either drunk or high. Or mentally challenged.
Will tells him to back off, so Clark decides to take matters into his own hands. He places a call to a buddy, and it looks like we have the beginnings of another posse on our hands. Great. Look how it turned out the last time they formed a posse.
After losing the oar, it's shown that Autumn's little boat also has a motor. Sadly, it refuses to start. Then Hunter asks Autumn why they even made the trip, as she's never been interested in anything paranormal up to that point. She claims that she just thought it would be fun. Hunter tells her that they'll probably drift until they reach the dam, where the boat will be destroyed.
That guy has another nightmare, and decides to wander through his house some more. He passes in front of a blue light, so that you can clearly see his shadow on the wall. Then, while he's FACING the light, another shadow passes his. Get what I'm saying?
Instead of giving us a scene where a killer sneaks around behind our guy, he sneaks around RIGHT IN FRONT OF HIM. This goes beyond stupid, really. I mean, I can't remember off-hand what the lowest-rated movie was for this blog, but this one deserves a special trophy. I can almost guarantee that I will never see a slasher as bad as this one. Almost. But there's always next week...
Anyway, our insomniac(Harvey Hix! I can't believe I forgot who he was!) wanders outside, and he gets snatched up by the drunk guys. Then they go to the gas station, where the attendant sees Harvey covered up in the back of their truck. They convince him to keep quiet, and give him some extra cash to keep him silent.
After the truck takes off, the gas station guy calls the deputy. He reports seeing someone being kidnapped, then adds that they bought a good amount of boat fuel at the station. Yet again, the deputy hangs up on the caller before they realize what's happened. That guy's an asshole.
The deputy informs Will about the group with the truck, then makes another call. The truck arrives at the dock, and the plan is revealed: They're going to take out 2 boats onto the river. They'll be in the main boat, but Hix will be tied up in a rowboat behind them. They'll drag his boat out to the spot where the Jacobs clan was dumped, and offer him up as a sacrifice to the angry spirits.
They head out on the water, and Will asks another boater to take him out on the river. As they approach the posse, they talk about the murders, and Will explains that the idea that the Jacobs brothers are killing folks has one huge flaw: Why now? Why didn't they just kill Harvey Hix and the rest of the vigilantes years ago, if they could rise from the dead? Good question. Methinks this one might actually have a plot twist at the end.
They spot a boat, but it's the college students. Will stops to rescue them, and tells them that they're safe, which of course mean that they aren't. Hunter gets killed almost immediately, with an ax to his skull. The killer starts after Autumn, but Will shoots at him, hitting him squarely in the chest. The zombie stares at the wound, then just says, "Already dead."
He tosses Autumn aside, then tries to suffocate the sheriff. Will plunges a knife into his shoulder, but it gets tossed into the river. The killer searches for his victims, and a noose gets dropped around his neck. As Will grabs the rifle and attempts to finish him off, the zombie vanishes into thin air.
Now they really do find the right boat up ahead, so they kill the lights and the engine. Clark's buddy hits something in the water, so they all decide to set Hix adrift right there. And that's when Will finds them, and points a rifle at the drunken trio.
While, they argue back and forth over Hix, the 3 Jacobs zombies emerge from the fog. Harvey Hix drifts toward the dead men(who seem to be able to walk on water) in the raft, and he starts to pray. Just as he reaches them, he gets a bullet to the head. It was Autumn who fired the shot. The zombies raise their weapons, and vigorously begin to hack and slash at poor Harvey's body.
Autumn tearfully says that he was her grandfather. Then we see her sitting in the snow again, and she resumes her narration. It turns out that Harvey, her grandfather, had also raped her mother. She looks up and smiles at the camera. THE END
Laaaaaaame. I mean, how lousy does a movie have to be to be worse than the worst movie I've ever seen? Minimal blood, terrible acting, no nudity...it's the triple-threat of sucky films! And I survived. .5 killer trees out of 5. Yeah, this one doesn't even earn a full point.
And what did I learn from River of Darkness?
-Somewhere in these United States, there is a town filled with beefy lunkheads.
-You can miss seeing killers, even if they stand between you and the only light source.
Next up: Mama. I had hoped to see either Child's Play or Pumpkinhead next, but both were pushed back by Netflix, so Mama came in early. October's a tough time to rent slashers, huh? I have no idea if Mama qualifies or not, but if not, there'll be another delay until I can get an alternative movie to see.