Backwoods Bloodbath DVD

Thursday, 08 April 2010 18:29

Winner of the ‘Best Horror Feature’ award at the New York Independent Film Festival, “Backwoods Bloodbath” has the ingredients of a good, old-fashioned monster/slasher flick. It centres on a mythical beast, the ferocious ‘Black Hodag’, allegedly a bizarre combination of a frog, elephant, dinosaur and assorted other creatures. The critter is rumoured to have been stalking the Black Forest in Wisconsin for over a century.

Enter stage left a bunch of wise-cracking ex-college students reuniting for a mutual friend’s funeral. They will be staying in a remote ‘cottage’ in the woods which basically means a shed with simple amenities. Once there, they intend to drink themselves silly, have sex and recall the good times. What they do not count on is the Hodag spoiling their party and ripping them to pieces, one by one.

Backwoods Bloodbath DVDIt is always tempting to cut a low budget film some slack when appraising its merits. More often than not, there will genuinely be something about a movie that stands out, even if it is only mediocre. In the case of “Bloodbath”, I would not be reaching too far if I said that it feels quite professionally made. The direction is snappy, the shot choice is quite varied and this helps to paper over the budgetary limitations.

The movie gave Donn Kennedy his first full director credit (also its writer and producer), and you honestly would not know it. He does get reasonable performances from his main cast, but then most of them are playing pretty standard all-American stereotypes – there is the jock, the quiet, strange one who was bullied, the horny girl – you get the picture. If there is a standout part it is Jessica, played quite sensitively by Angela Lowe.

The low point is definitely Scott (Ryan Buth), the local dude who is supposed to make all sorts of ominous noises about a bloodthirsty creature lurking in the surrounding woods, and ends up sounding like he has lost the will to live, let alone act! Some of the actors succeed in making you chuckle quietly at their ineptitude, and I truly believe it is what most of them intend.

As for the beast itself, the results are decidedly 50/50. The Hodag comes across as a combination of The Creeper from “Jeepers Creepers”, Leatherface from “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and the ugly so-and-so from “Predator”. We never really get to see it clearly and in broad daylight, which is pretty wise as otherwise I suspect that the component parts of the costume would look exactly that – elements the costume designer picked up from a hardware store. Instead, cloaked in shadow or witnessed in series of fleeting glimpses, the identity of the monster just about holds together.

However, the Hodag is nowhere near as convincing or charismatic as The Creeper, and its semi-sentient behaviour feels wrong. They should have lost the long coat and made it more feral.

Low-cost horror movies often get the gore right, and “Bloodbath” is no exception. They must have had a tanker full of the syrupy stuff made up, and consequently virtually every victim gets covered from head to toe in dripping red gunk as soon as they come into close proximity with the beast. Lopped-off limbs are gleefully cast about, hearts are ripped from chests and each act of violence is accompanied by a succession of wonderfully sloppy and bone-snapping noises. Full marks here.

Sadly the other critical element of a horror film – the scares and suspense – are almost nowhere to be seen. There is one jump-shock that caught me out but otherwise the deaths are telegraphed miles off, and although the head count rises exponentially as the movie progresses, I never ventured near the edge of my seat except to get another beer. Getting a few laughs is all very well, but it must be balanced by some scares. The two go so well together but unfortunately not in this film.

“Backwoods Bloodbath” will be released on DVD by MVM on 26 April 2010. The main feature is 89 minutes approx., certificate ‘18’ and retails for £12.99, or less from www.culttvstore.com.

 

Review: “Backwoods Bloodbath”

 

 

 

Last modified on Thursday, 10 May 2012 16:37

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