Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Wicked Lake (2008)

Jack of all-trades Zack Passero (The Big Weird Normal ) is the greatest director in the world! Why more filmmakers don't start their movies off with a hot naked girl posing in front of an art class and end it with four hot naked girls splashing in a lake while the credits roll is a mystery to me. Written by Adam Rockoff (author of Going to Pieces: The Rise and Fall of the Slasher Film), and Chris Sivertson (Jack Ketchum's The Lost), Wicked Lake is about four beautiful co-eds who embark on a road trip to a lakeside mountain cabin for a relaxing weekend. Unbeknownst to them, two clans of deranged male misfits have their eyes on them. The girls appear to be easy prey for the predatory perverts, at least until the fateful stroke of midnight when all hell literally breaks loose. I hate to read spoilers in a review, but I would imagine most horror fans (at least those visiting this site) have either already heard or read what happens with the girls [stop reading and skip to the next paragraph if you haven't]. At the stroke of midnight the quartet of lovelies turn into teeth-gnashing, skull-chomping, blood-sucking vampire/witches and quickly turn the tables on the male intruders. And boy, do they ever.

Wicked Lake is Fever Dreams third U.S. production following Flesh For The Beast and Shadow: Dead Riot. As I mentioned, Passero starts the film out with Ilene (Robin Sydney-Big Bad Wolf, Dead Man's Hand ) posing nude in front of an art-class. Caleb, one of the wanna-be artist (Marc Senter-Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever) walks Ilene home after class and, after giving her a child-like drawing of a unicorn jumping over a rainbow, ask to feel one of her breast. Though Ilene plops one out, one of her gal pals steps out onto the porch and scares the quirky and shy fellow off. When Caleb returns home, we find that he isn't the only oddball in the family. His two abusive older brothers (Will Keenan -Tromeo and Juliet, and Justin Stone-Mad Cowgirl), along with their wheelchair bound uncle Sir Jim (Frank Birney -TV's The Practice ), are there to greet him. When the fam starts to give him a hard time for coming home late, Caleb promptly tells them about the four girls. Being the horn-dog family that they are, the four take out to follow the ladies to their rented cabin by the lake. The girls, however, before reaching their quite mountain retreat, stop at a gas station for refreshments and tampons (they really do). In the process of doing their shopping, they manage to both provoke and arouse (one idiot even sits on a stool and masturbates the entire time the girls are there) three backwoods hicks. So now, they not only have Caleb and his nutbag family following them, but three libidinous hillbillies as well. Once they reach the cabin, the girls sunbathe and go for a swim in the lake (nude, of course. Can girls really get breast cancer from laying in the sun topless?), and in general, have a gay ole' time. That is until nightfall, when Caleb and his family show up. After Helen (Eryn Joslyn -The Grey) let's them in, Caleb's brothers, Palmer and Fred, immediately begin to abuse and humiliate the girls. When nervous Caleb grows too excited and pukes all over the floor, Palmer forces Jill (Eve Mauro-The Devil's Dungeon, Land Of The Lost) to strip off her shirt and use it to clean up the mess. Later, he makes Mary (newcomer Carlee Baker) spread her legs and bend over while Fred cuts off her shorts with a straight razor and spanks her with a belt. After which they attempt to make her suck on Sir Jim's "nub". For the ladies, however, all the humiliation ends at the stroke of midnight.

Once the mayhem ensues, SFX make-up artist Melanie Tooker (who worked on From Dusk Till Dawn, Army Of Darkness and Clive Barker's Lord of Illusions) takes care of all the blood and gore and does very well, considering the film's budget. There are several well-executed FX scenes that should please gore-hounds: a severed head exploding in a microwave, numerous spouting jugulars, a scene where a guy gets his brains sucked out through a straw, a tree branch rammed up through a girl's jaw, a bullet to the groin, a shot-gun blast to another guy's head... Not to mention poor Jacob hanging impaled to the front door throughout half of the movie. Still, it's obvious Passero's main focus was not on blood and guts, but rather T&A. In a recent interview, he said, "We could've cast a bunch of bimbos that didn't mind getting naked, and it could've been pretty terrible, I think." Instead, he sought out four young actresses (three of whom were relatively unknown at the time) who not only didn't seem to mind getting naked, but were impressive actresses to boot. Kudos to Dino Ladki for casting these four very gorgeous ladies. All of them are remarkably sexy (even if the film hadn't been half as good, it would've still been worth watching just to see them). Eve Mauro is amazing.

I haven't mentioned that while things are taking place at the cabin, two police detectives are also tracking the girls after discovering a little surprise in their basement back home. Michael Esparza (I Know Who Killed Me) plays Ray, a young rookie cop who has teamed up with his late father's ex-partner, Jake, a burnt-out, cynical, coke-sniffing veteran played by Tim Thomerson (Trancers ). I suppose their roles were necessary considering the ending, but I felt that their scenes interrupted the flow of the main plot. Still, it was fun seeing Thomerson playing the stereotypical cop. There are also a couple of cameo appearances worth mentioning: Angela Bettis (Lucky McKee's MOH episode Sick Girl) plays the part of a mother waiting for her little daughter outside a gas station bathroom (I laughed so hard when Carlee Baker's character flipped-off the little girl as they were walking away). Also, Al Jourgensen from Ministry not only provides the film's score, but appears briefly as a perverted art professor. I've been a big fan of Ministry since "The Land Of Rape And Honey", and was impressed with Jourgensen's cover songs used on the soundtrack. The introduction he gives at the beginning of the DVD is pretty amusing as well.

I may have been exaggerating a tad-bit (well, a lot) when I said Passero was the greatest director in the world. All the beautiful ladies just had me excited. Wicked Lake isn't without its faults, but what film isn't. Though I would have liked to have seen a few more SFX scenes (not just bodies and mouths smeared with blood), for a low-budget horror/dark-comedy, I was pleasantly surprised. And I'm always in favor of films that forgo CGI. It was definitely worth the $20, for I'm sure I'll be watching it again and again. If you are a female, my girlfriend and her friend was over watching this film with me, and surprisingly, they both liked it too. But girlfriend is kind of a sicko-perv.

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