Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Terror at the Red Wolf Inn

We start off by watching Regina bicycle around town for a while. Usually these drawn-out extended opening scenes are pretty boring, but she seems so klutzy that I was watching just because I expected her to fall over at any moment... especially since we see that she can hardly ride on flat ground without running into people, just before she turns and rides down sets of stairs.

As soon as she arrives at home, she gets a phone call letting her know that she's won a vacation. She mentions that she didn't enter any contest, and they don't tell her where she's going... but none of this really seems to bother her. She's just excited about winning something.

She soon gets on a charter jet and flies out to wherever they take her. Upon landing she's picked up by Baby John. One car chase later, they arrive at the Red Wolf Inn. They're greeted by Evelyn (Mary Jackson) and a few other girls who all seem to have won the same sort of free stay at the inn. The girls talk a bit, and Evelyn goes off to prepare what she promises will be a marvelous dinner.

Regina is still a little curious, and goes into the kitchen to offer her help. Evelyn declines, but quickly gives her a task to do when she shows interest in exploring the walk-in freezer.

What follows is about 10 minutes of all the girls and the family gorging themselves on the Evelyn's food. Everyone loves it and eats as much as they can handle.

A little more than they can handle actually.

The girls all head to bed, and the next morning, one of them is gone. Evelyn says she left early in the morning and no one presses the issue any further.

Regina explores a bit outside, and we're introduced to one of the first instances of the truly awful soundtrack of this movie. There's a couple of minutes of what's supposed to be tension-building violin screeches, but it just sounds there's a fly buzzing by every few seconds.

Regina soon ends up going to the beach with Baby John for some sandwiches and romance. Baby John kisses Regina a little awkwardly for a while, until they notice that he's got a bite on his fishing line. When he looks over to it, we see that apparently the fish reeled itself in, because there's a small shark on the beach. Baby John runs over to it, picks it up by the tail and swings it against a log until it's head is falling apart, then he drops it and punches it a few times because... why not. This awkward situation transforms into something wonderfully ridiculous when Baby John suddenly looks up and says, "I think I love you," making it one of the best scenes of the film.

Shark destruction starts at about 4:20

No animals were harmed during the making of... Oh, nevermind...

That night, we see Baby John and his grandfather (Arthur Space) kill Edwina in her sleep with some sort of poison and carry her downstairs to the big kitchen to butcher. The next day, Regina finds out that Edwina is missing and knows something strange is happening. She tries to get Baby John to run away with her, but he's not sure he can leave his grandmother. Eventually Regina gets a chance to have a look at that walk-in freezer, so she does, and finds portions of her friends there. She screams and the horrible sound effects provide us with about a minute of car horns for no good reason.

She tries to run away, but they're in the middle of nowhere and she just gets picked up by Evelyn and Henry again.

Baby John convinces Regina to come down for dinner, and she does, but gets sick when she's served some Edwina rump roast. Henry and Evelyn tell Baby John that they'll have to take care of Regina that night, but Baby John isn't too happy about that so he rushes to tell Regina that he'll run away with her.

They make an attempt but get caught by Evelyn and Henry. Henry comes at Regina with a cleaver, we get a close up of Henry and Evelyn's excited faces (complete with train sound effects), and then we see Regina scream and blood splatter across the ground.

But as it turns out, Baby John jumped up and saved her at the last moment. And now that they've got the house to themselves, Regina's actually not in such a hurry to leave... and since she's been eating people for the last few days anyway, it seems a shame to let the two grandparents go to waste. So Regina takes over as the cook the Red Wolf Inn.

Terror at Red Wolf Inn really took me by surprise. While it's not a great film, it's pretty fun and has a lot of character. It's sort of odd in that it's a movie about murder and cannibalism shown by way of a PG rated film, but here the fact that we never actually see the older couple murdering and butchering people means that we only ever see them being really nice to the girls. And frankly that just makes the whole thing creepier.

This movie doesn't have scare shots or gore, and hardly any violence at all, but it does actually succeed at keeping you feeling uneasy the whole time because everything is just so damn weird. Once the killings start, the film starts working in some subtly humorous things, but it's never overt enough that you're taken out of the story, so the extra weirdness just adds more strange creepiness to the situations.

The front of my VHS copy declares "In the tradition of The Addams Family and Beetlejuice," and while I can see how you could say that they were all comedic with a creepy flair, Terror at the Red Roof Inn isn't really that similar to those other two at all. The film does try to at least end on a fun note with Regina and Baby John taking Henry and Evelyn's place, and while that absurd twist does seem like it should be humorous, they're still just a couple of people driven insane, eating human flesh, while their victims' heads sit off to the side.

Even if no one else notices that this scene might not be the fun romp it's trying to be, Henry does. So after the credits finish his head turns and winks at the camera in one last attempt to defuse the creepiness.

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