Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Bad Movie Endurance Test Part 2: The Curse of Blanchard Hill

The Curse of Blanchard Hill is especially frustrating to watch because there are occasional moments where it seems like at least some of the people involved realize they're making a terrible fucking movie. Unfortunately, they never embrace that fact and keep going back to trying (and failing) to make an actual horror flick. Even worse, it's  a horror flick with a message. Yeah, this one's not for amateurs, kids.

The first thing you need to know about the this movie is that nearly every scene is intercut with still (possibly stock) footage of  trees and  waterfalls and  shit. Out of the 75 minutes of the film, I'd guess that at least 30 of it is stuff you'd expect to see with "God Bless The USA" playing over it as a local TV station somewhere in Kansas ends its broadcast day. I assume that in theory these scenes are there to remind you of the half-ass theme, but mostly they're just boring. 

We open with a guy filming some scenes in the woods (maybe the very scenes that keep intruding upon the movie, I don't know), only to be chased by the cameraman and killed. I guess. He definitely ends up lying int he woods. Twenty-two years later (though it seems longer), we learn that this guy was Victor McShane from a group of campers that includes Victor's nephew or maybe niece (not really sure who the character speaking was talking to when he said "your uncle," and don't really care). Luckily, one of the campers, Gus, has a theory. If you went to college, you'll immediately recognize Gus as the  "deep thinking douchebag philosophy major who thinks deep thoughts" type, with the added bonus of the actor thinking he might be Crispin Glover (he's not). So you're not surprised he has a theory, just annoyed. Anyway, Gus mentions that his Indian friend (because, let's face it, Gus is the kind of guy who's going to constantly work the fact that he has ethnic friends into conversation) told him about how the Indians put a curse on the hill to keep white people away or something. Because Indians love nature, but not in a "cartoonish racial stereotype" way or anything. Anyway, Gus's theory about Victor is that (Gus's words, not mine) "nature raped his soul" and made him a vengeful killing machine. With a machete. Because nature never thought to just skip the meat puppet and have a bear attack people or a tree fall on them or something. 

Over the next 75 minutes, a lot of people get killed by Victor in scenes boasting special effects like I haven't seen since Redneck Zombies. Apparently there are more people per square mile on Blanchard Hill than in most major cities. Most of these people are terrible actors, but not from the usual low-budget school of stilted bad acting. These guys are hams who are terrible actors. There's Ranger Fred, who  sounds like a mix between Shaggy from Scooby Doo and Charlie Brown's teacher (though the second part may just be bad sound--there's one scene that may include exposition but you can't hear what the characters are saying over the crackling of the campfire). There's a sleazy photographer who's convinced some not-at-all-hot lesbians to let him take pictures of them in the woods in exchange for a big bag of flour. No matter how hard you try to keep them from it through sheer force of will, the lesbians get topless before they get killed and  we're "treated"  to what has to be at least two minutes of strobing shots of boobs and chest wound. There's also some other people, all of whom I was thankful to see die, even if they died boringly and badly. Somewhere in there the killer picks up some trash with his machete. Because he's nature's soul-raped servant, and give a hoot, don't pollute.

At some point we also meet a couple of right wing stoner patriot detectives (yeah, I don't really get it either), who are sent to investigate the death of two rednecks who thankfully were killed before they got around to what promised to be a stomach-churning sex scene. After finding a few other bodies, they manage to pass out in the woods without getting chopped up,  but the next morning one of them wakes up and starts freaking out. Since they've been doing drugs non-stop, it's not until he yells dramatically (in his mind, at least), "I won't let you overtake me nature!" that we realize that nature is presumably raping his soul. Fuckin' nature. Rather than being soul-raped, he shoots himself in the head, which wakes up the other cop so we can see a (judging from the music) very sad sepia-toned montage of scenes of the dead guy from earlier in the movie. 

Meanwhile, Gus and one of the other campers manage to survive the night, but she's hurt her leg so Gus decides to go "get help" on his own and promises to come back for her. He steals a car and doesn't seem to be planning on coming back, but the car's owner knows a shortcut through the woods and manages to cut him off, stop him, and conveniently put his gun on the hood of the (still moving at that point) car right before Victor offs him. Then Gus shoots and kills Victor, gets soul raped by nature, goes back and kills the girl, eats her, finds Victor's machete, and kills some hippies who are conveniently camping nearby. 

Some time later, it's winter and the still-living cop has finally come back for revenge. At this point we discover that while Victor kept his fucking mouth shut like a respectable machete killer, Gus is still a pontificating douchebag when he's a vengeful soul-raped servant of nature. At one point he calls himself "Nature's Hand." Thankfully, the cop shoots him and the movie finally ends before this becomes completely unbearable. 

Takeaway: This is one of those "Bob's got a video camera, let's make  a movie" things that's all fun and games until somebody gets some camera filters and starts thinking they're an auteur. The best thing about this film was the mediocre "coffee house lesbian with Emmylou Harris delusions" cover of "She'll Be Comin' 'Round the Mountain" from the opening credits. 
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