Trailer Park of TerrorReviewed By Jay Seaver
Posted 09/08/08 13:27:08
(Worth A Look)
SCREENED AT THE 2008 FANTASIA FESTIVAL: The director was candid during the Q&A following the film, saying that it took the various groups trying to develop the "Trailer Park of Terror" comic as a movie several attempts before they hit on an approach that worked. And even then, they weren't totally satisfied with the approach they wound up taking - they really tried to avoid making it a movie where six teenagers take a wrong turn off the main road and... Well, you know. That's just what wound up working.The detour they take in the rain leads to a nasty trailer park, one which disappears and reappears so that its ghoulish residents can take more victims. The "queen" of the park is Norma (Nichole Hiltz), who once aspired to leave the place but instead wound up making a deal with the devil (Trace Adkins) to kill its residents, only to find herself trapped with them forever. The latest bus to have mechanical troubles contains Pastor Lewis (Matthew Del Negro) and the six troubled teens he's been at a retreat with: Gothy Bridget (Jeanette Brox), wiseass Alex (Ryan Carnes), gay Michael (Ricky Mabe), sex addict Amber (Hayley Marie Norman), porn addict Jason (Cody McMains), and drug fiend Tiffany (Stefanie Black). They run into Norma, who seems like the only one there, but the trailers she sends them to are occupied by ghouls far less gregarious than her.
There are plenty of wonderful people who live in trailer parks; as you might expect, none will be featured here. The residents of the park are pretty disgusting human beings when we first meet them in a prologue, and Timothy Dolan's script has fun translating every trailer-trash stereotype they can think of into a worthy horror-movie villain fitting with the theme. You get the junkie, the slut, the morbidly obese woman, and the small-time crook. The most stomach-churning is probably Ed Corbin's Sgt. Stank, who probably made his homemade jerky from roadkill before death gave him a new calling.
That's where the nastiest gore shows up, but Trailer Park of Terror has plenty of pleasures for those who enjoy being grossed out. The visual effects company co-produced the film, and though the execution of an early shot of the devil taking an acidic leak by the side of the road doesn't quite measure up to the concept, the makeup guys do a fantastic job of making the trailer park's residents into decomposed and mutilated ghouls and executing top-notch mayhem when flesh-rending time comes. It looks a whole lot better than most independent horror movies with this sort of low budget, and there's plenty of it. I strongly suspect that this movie had to be recut a couple of times to secure an R rating, though I don't really see the point of that - it's not likely to have a multiplex run and the NC-17 rating it still deserves would be a badge of honor on video.
Both halves of the cast are pretty good for what they're needed for. Lew Temple, for instance, is a scream as the rock n' rollin' redneck schemer who fancies himself Norma's boyfriend, and Trisha Raw Stahl is a memorable monster as the grotesquely obese Lurlene, who wants raw meat even more than the average zombie. The kids in the bus are no innocents, either - the religious retreat hasn't done most of them much good at all, many of them defiantly pround of this fact. As a group, they walk a fine line between generally sympathetic and deserving some sort of punishment. It's not tough to figure out who has the best survival odds, but that's fine.
Nichole Hiltz's Norma deserves special mention. Hiltz was cast at least in part due to her body, but she'd be memorable even if she was flat-chested. She dives into her character and gives it just the sort of big performance it needs, making her at least interesting and worthy of empathy if not sympathy. She gets across that even if you're part of the staff, Hell is still Hell.That's not adding a lot of complication to a movie that follows the basic template - six teenagers trying to escape gruesome metaphoric punishment for their sins. It's just enough for this one to not feel like it's just going through the motions, and the high quality of the blood and guts makes it more fun still.
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