(2007 – dir. George Bessudo)
I must give Lake Dead my absolute highest recommendation… as an Al-Qaeda recruitment tool designed to instill a deep and adibing hatred for western culture. One screening of this steaming pile nearly had me ready to go all Jihad against the entire cast and crew. Just tell the disenfranchised Islamic youth that this is what all Americans are like, and watch them line up for suicide bomber duty.
Every character in the film is completely unlikable, either because they're despicable or despicably whiny. Yet despite this, none of them really had an individual personality. In my mind, they all sort of meld into one giant fratrority dude(tte) that has nothing interesting to say and no redeeming qualities. Here's a breakdown of characters:
Whiny Sister - The obvious final girl from frame one. (Her confrontation with her father made me laugh audibly and I spent the next ten minutes imitating the overblown whine of her delivery.)
Bitchy Sister - Every line she speaks seethes with unprovoked hostility.
Boring Sister - The most unnecessary character in the film.
Boring Boyfriend - At times douchey, at times heroic, always devoid of personality.
Douchey Guy - Everything that comes out of his mouth is insipid, and usually offensive.
Jealous Girlfriend - Dating Douchey Guy for no fathomable reason.
Slutty Friend - Boring Sister brings her along because she's the only one willing to show her tits.
Here’s a typical example of their witter banter:
Slutty Friend: “You mind if we smoke in your RV?”
Douchey Guy: “Does a dog lick its own ballsack?”
Slutty Friend giggles like this is remotely clever, and the audience is treated to a weed smoking montage that in no way serves the story. Either he's just checking off slasher trope boxes or he's trying to win cool points with the viewer, suggesting that he is probably someone who behaves and talks exactly like his characters. To be fair, equal blame should be laid on writer Daniel P. Coughlin.
Anyway, the story involves three sisters inheriting a lakeside hotel from their estranged grandfather. But who cares? There's a few spots of decent gore, and one honestly kick-ass moment where Boring Boyfriend takes out his inbred caveman captor while still tied to his chair. Of course, The Avengers did it better.
(2006 – dir. Robert Wilson)
After Lake Dead, I was in the mood to watch another fiercely shitty movie, if only to even out my purge/keep piles. I scanned my shelves for the dumbest looking piece of crap I could find. Dead Mary treads the well-worn territory of the "Bloody Mary/Candyman" urban legend in which one lights a candle in a darkened room and speaks the name 3 to 5 times and gets dead. I threw it in while folding laundry, fully expecting to turn it back off when the chore was done.
But the truth is, Dead Mary is way better than it has any right to be.
For one thing, the characters aren't a bunch of vapid teenage stereotypes, but actual developed characters with individual motivations and personalities. There's a young married couple struggling with the husband's infidelity, a bachelor introducing his new, much younger girlfriend to his long-time friends, a pair of exes who just broke up on the drive out to the lake house, and the bitchy girl. Okay, so they're not all fully-realized characters, but I just got done watching Lake Dead, so...
I'll admit, with this crew of twenty-somethings coming to terms with their newfound adulthood, the premise of the film is even sillier, but it is handled fairly well. The subject of Dead Mary comes up during a drunken late-night conversation about the weirdest thing that ever happened to each of them. Three of the girls claimed that Dead Mary actually appeared to them in the mirror when they were 16. So obviously, they repeat their teenage folly.
The cool thing is, Dead Mary never actually appears. Instead they awaken something in the woods. What follows is an unapologetic attempt to emulate The Evil Dead. Some people will despise the attempt, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.
As the evil entity takes possession of the friends, it begins exposing secrets and turning them against each other. Since the film spends so much time establishing its characters, it is refreshing to see their relationships become an essential part of the horror that follows.
On the downside, there are plenty of clunky bits that simply don't work or make sense within the context of the film, but good characters, solid performances, and a well-constructed plot make Dead Mary very watchable.
Verdict: It's a Keeper.
(2010 – dir. Jake West)
Oh boy, feminist film critics are going to be digging this one out of their teeth for years to come. And deservedly so. The plot involves seven blokes going on holiday to help their friend through an ugly divorce. They take a chartered tour bus to a dead-end town outside of London that is completely populated with zombified women with an all-encompassing hatred for men.
The opening involves each of them pissing off their significant others by taking the weekend off. To be fair, even as Doghouse makes the wives and girlfriends (and even one boyfriend) out to be ball-busting shrews, it also makes most of the guys out to be selfish, insensitive pricks.
The whole affair is non-PC, often offensive, and completely hilarious. I recommend turning off your inner feminist for the first viewing and just have fun with it. It is openly misogynist, but in a winking, knowing way that doesn't just let men off the hook. If you don't have an inner feminist, you'll probably love Doghouse.
Verdict: Keeper. I'll probably make my wife watch it.