dvd review: TRAILER PARK OF TERROR

If you are a hardcore fan of horror movies, at some point you have to ask yourself, “How much am I willing to forgive?” By this I mean that all too often horror fans can be forgiving of a movie simply by virtue of the fact that it is horror. It’s like something turns off in their brains, or perhaps their brains were never turned on. Either way, these fans—and you know who you are—will pretty much accept anything as long as it has a scary moment or two and some splatter effects. Forget about story. Forget about originality. Forget about character development. And if you’re one of those people, you’ll really like Trailer Park of Terror.

Set in a trailer park that embraces every negative stereotype of mobile-home dwellers, Trailer Park of Terror finds the beautiful Norma (Nichole Hiltz) looking to escape her hellish surroundings. As Norma goes to meet her boyfriend, who promises to take her away from a squalid life of taunts and harassment from inbred rednecks, she finds herself once again being taunted and harassed by the inbred rednecks who have made her life a living hell. When the rednecks kill her boyfriend, Norma seeks to even the score by unwittingly making a deal with the Devil. She goes on a killing rampage, laying waste to everyone who was mean to her, and then blows up the trailer park.

Twenty years later, the park is haunted place where unsuspecting motorists lose their lives. When a group of wayward teenagers returning from a Christian retreat with their pastor get into an accident on the road, they seek refuge at the trailer park. Unbeknownst to the teens or the pastor, Norma is some sort of zombie, setting the kids up for grisly deaths at the hands of the other zombies who stalk the park. One by one, the stranded group is picked off—pretty much in the exact same order you would expect them to be killed—until only one survivor makes a pathetic attempt to stay alive.

Trailer Park of Terror is almost two movies in one. One of these films is fairly well shot by cinematographer Jeff Venditti, with marginally competent direction by Steven Goldman, solid production values, serviceable special effects, and acting that is not entirely terrible (at least by horror movie standards). The second film is a terribly written piece of garbage that goes a long way to negate any of the things that actually work in TPOT.

Based on a comic book—which I confess to never having read or even heard of—Trailer Park of Terror suffers most notably from a script that languishes on the bottom end of the mediocrity spectrum. Written by Timothy Dolan, there is not a single moment in TPOT that comes as a surprise. And while Steven Goldman’s direction displays competency, he is incapable of creating anything that is remotely scary, or even effectively unsettling, thanks in no small part to Dolan’s maudlin script. From the moment the audience is introduced to the motley assortment of behaviorally challenged teenagers, there is no question of which ones will die, or even in what order they will meet their gory ends. The script makes no attempt to give the characters any sense of…well…character. In fact, the only thing that is remotely surprising is how one-dimensional these characters are—even by contrived horror movie conventions these kids are poorly developed. And to make matters that much worse, this is supposed to be a horror comedy, but the script isn’t remotely funny.

Those with less discerning taste are likely to enjoy Trailer Park of Terror. This is especially true for those who confuse gore and splatter effects with horror, because while TPOT fails to deliver in terms of story and character, it certainly meets its quota of violence. Unfortunately, watching a zombie skin someone alive and then cook them in a deep fryer is not horror, its just gruesome, and the sort of throwback to 1980s horror films that put make-up effects over everything else. And if that floats your boat, then again, you’ll probably really like TPOT. But if you’re tired of genre films that are a challenge to sit through not because they are relentlessly terrifying, but because they kinda/sorta suck, then this is something to approach with caution.

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