Mutant Cannibals kill people dead.
There aren’t enough fun horror movies like this. The first Wrong Turn plays like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre meets Deliverance with a bit of The Hills Have Eyes thrown in for good measure. This means that despite the onslaught of the “torture porn” genre as well as self referential horror movies, we get a nice little seventies styles horror exploitation flick. The second movie is even better and that might lay at the feet of director Joe Lynch, a man who has a clear love and understanding of horror movies. It much the same way his close friend Adam Green made Hatchet, a love letter to eighties slasher movies, Lynch does the same with this sequel and proves the future looks bright with this young generation of horror filmmakers.
The first movie is a straight lift from the themes of The Hills Have Eyes (mutant cannibals) and Southern Comfort (locals keeping the advantage over outsiders). It also casts some great young talent including Eliza Dushku, fresh off her stint in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Jeremy Sisto, not yet a star but proving his worth in horror flicks such as May. However, it is not the victims that are the main attractions here but instead the mutant cannibals, created by effects maestro Stan Winston.
Winston, who also serves as the producer here, goes all out and gives this movie effects up to the level we expect from the man behind The Thing, Aliens and Terminator. Director Rob Schmidt seems so impressed with the special effects he shows them at every opportunity, breaking the Golden Rule that says sometimes what you don’t see is more frightening. That is not to say Wrong Turn is not scary, as Schmidt paces the movie and frames the scenes quite well, delivering quality scares and some great gore.
While the first movie has some great kills, I don’t see it being more than a minor addition to the horror genre. It was given a raw deal by producers because it was a theatrical release but found life when it was finally released on DVD. This is why the second movie trumps the first almost every step of the way. Dead End was not a theatrical release, instead going straight to DVD, meaning director Joe Lynch can make it without holding anything back. The only drawback of shooting this way is a lack of quality actors, although the added gore and taboo breaking scenes more than make up for it.
I have to slightly back off the comment about lesser quality actors because Henry Rollins trumps everyone in the first movie by a country mile. But Dead End has one downfall: Stan Winston is gone. That means the effects, while still decent, are lacking the “something special” that Winston brings to his projects. However, the direction of the movie makes up for the drop in effects. Lynch takes a movie that was a straight brutal horror flick (much like Texas Chainsaw Massacre) and installs humor into it’s sequel (a little like Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2), while pouring on excessive gore and making this a fun roller coaster ride, with the cheers coming from the kills not from the survivors.
What I like best about the sequel is it wastes no time slamming us over the head. The first movie had two people die, off screen, before the opening credits rolled. Lynch doesn’t hold anything back because in the first seven minutes Kimberly Caldwell, playing herself, gets her jaw bitten off and then is split in half with an axe. It is ridiculous and looks as fake as anything but it is also completely awesome.
The plot gives us “Ultimate Survivalist: Apocalypse,” a reality television show where the premise is to take stereotypes and put them in the backwoods to see what they will do to survive. There is a movie star, athlete, model, extreme sport star, outsider and soldier girl and they are led by a former marine (Henry Rollins). The answer to what they will do to survive is put to the test when the cannibals attack. This setup means we have moved out of the seventies survival mode of Wrong Turn and straight into an eighties styled slasher flick.
This movie is nothing more than a gore fest and it is hugely entertaining. The acting is subpar and even Henry Rollins has seen better days. But who cares about the acting in this movie? What matters here is for Lynch to deliver some inventive, awesome gore. He succeeds with great aplomb. The aforementioned body being split into is a nice start. There are also lots of entrails spread across the land, arrows shot into faces while other faces are ripped off. There is also a scene with a guy getting blown to pieces. Awesome stuff.
Wrong Turn gives us a suspenseful horror movie that never lets up. Wrong Turn 2: Dead End takes us to the other end of the spectrum and gives us a crazy splatter flick that holds up better than you could ever imagine for a direct to DVD sequel.
Wrong Turn is featured in 1.85:1 and the picture quality is a HUGE improvement on the original DVD. The woods look amazing and the colors are vivid and beautiful here. The audio is in DTS-HD 5.1 and sounds great. Another big upgrade is that the original DVD is a flipper disc and you have part of the features on one side and part on the other. This has a very easy to use menu system and it all fits on one Blu Ray just fine. The second movie looks and sounds just as great (1.78:1, DTS-HD 5.1) with a similar menu system as well.
Wrong Turn has a commentary track with the director and two stars (Dushku and Harrington). Dushku can be entertaining on commentary tracks (see: Dollhouse) but she needs someone to play off of. This is not the case here because there are long periods of silence where they just watch the movie and talk about what they are seeing. There is way too much silence here.
The first feature is “Fresh Meat: The Wounds of Wrong Turn” and Stan Winston talks a lot about his creation of the mutants. It is pretty impressive learning how much he had to do with the making of this movie. Winston created not only the makeup of the cannibals but also the characteristics of the bad guys. I also really like this feature because it shows exactly how they achieved the axe to the face (achieved in one shot) effect. Those are the things I want to see in my features.
There is also a making of featurette that sucks because it is just a minor promotional piece with nothing worth your time. Eliza Dushku gets her own special feature which is only worth anything for fans of Dushku. I absolutely love Eliza Dushku, so this featurette is made for someone like me. For everyone else it is fluff. There is also a feature about Stan Winston and I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love him. I wouldn’t mind seeing a feature length documentary about the guy someday. The guy was a God. There is also three deleted scenes that don’t add much if anything to the movie and the trailer.
There are two commentary tracks on the Blu Ray for Wrong Turn 2: Dead End. The first is with Joe Lynch, Henry Rollins and Erica Leerhsen. This is a fantastic track, thanks to Rollins being such a natural speaker and Lynch being such a fan of the genre. Lynch is hilarious all the way through the track. It is the best track on the two films. The second track is with the writers and they are pretty straightforward about what this movie could have been.
“More Blood, More Guts” is the making of for Wrong Turn 2: Dead End. The producer starts off the feature calling it the most amoral, disgusting script he has ever read. The feature is slight and you get to know why the cast signed on but everything else in the feature is covered more thoroughly in the commentary tracks. “On Location with P-Nut” is footage show by P-Nut, the bassist from the band 311. It’s just some random behind-the-scenes footage including an up close look at the mutant hillbilly incest scene. “Making Gore Look Good” is similar to the feature on the first movie called “Fresh Meat.” It is the longest feature on the Blu-Ray and is my favorite feature on this as well.