2012 – Not Rated – Wild Eye Releasing
Starring Wend Wygant, Steve Rudzinski, Doug Bradley – Directed by Cary Hill
Step right up, folks! It’s the last chance you’ll have to experience these amazing, freaks of nature! That’s right, see the mystifying Scream Park movie that’s shot on video with a shoe string budget that somehow got Doug Bradley. Seriously, how the hell do you cast Doug Bradley, the guy who plays Pinhead? I also read that Tom Savini was going to have a role! Must be a Pittsburgh pride thing. On a personal note, I don’t feel like there are enough amusement park themed horror films (Tobe Hooper’s The Funhouse immediately comes to mind) and I’m not sure why. Amusement parks are pretty frightening on their own, presenting filmmakers with plenty of material to work with. Unfortunately most of the time, they really aren’t that good… *cough* Final Destination 3 *cough*.
After the opening title sequence, a direct homage to Friday the 13th, we learn it’s the final few days of The Frightland Amusement Park, as the crew of misfit teenagers are closing up for the evening. That’s the harsh reality of a business; it’s all about profits. But what if something horrible were to happen? Something that people would want to go there to experience? It would be the only place they could go to to experience something so wicked! Hmm, I wonder…
Unbeknownst to the crew of Frightland, they will soon find out with the arrival of a mysterious decrepit brown van. The crew consists of all the slasher film regulars; You have the jock douchebag Tony and his voluptuous girlfriend Carlee, the chain smoking goth girl Allison, the doofy young prankster Rhodie (who will steal the show for all the wrong reasons), characterless blonde girl Missi and of course the chastity practicing heroine, Jennifer. In charge of this rag tag bunch of horror stereotypes is Marty, who’s not only a callous dweeb, but also kind of a skeevy pervert. Carlee and Missi play against his perversions with the power of breasts to convince him to have a party for them at the park. Let’s be honest, one glance at Carlee’s cleavage and you would be powerless to all thought, reduced to the most primordial grunts and drooling.
As the park’s security guard who also doubles as the film’s token black guy, no nonsense Henry, is making his rounds, the kids are sneaking in booze provided by Missi’s punk rocker boyfriend and two mysterious masked prowlers are observing them and circling them from a distance like the patient predators they are. One is a silent, but deadly (sorry, not a fart joke) behemoth in a scarecrow mask and the other is a chuckling maniac in an old plague doctor’s mask. The party rages on… actually, it doesn’t so much as rage as it does casually peak at uninterested levels. You know those parties where only two of the several people are drinking and the others wonder off to do their own thing? Yeah, that’s this party.
Luckily our killers know how to start a party! Or stop, rather. Wisely disposing of the only person who could pose a threat by hanging him by the neck and stabbing him in the chest, our killers can now hunt their prey without worry. Never striding away from the engraved slasher formula, the teens are disposed of one by one, whether it be having their face melted off in a deep fryer, tied up and gutted (kinda reminds me of the first kill in Scream), throat slashed and scalped. As the number of survivors dwindles down, the mystery of the killers is resolved or should say lack of mystery, but the why is resolved in the only scene with Doug Bradley, better known as Pinhead from the Hellraiser series. By this point, it sort of comes as a shock that he’s just now making an appearance in the film (about an hour into the film) and being that it’s his only scene, you wonder how in the hell he got top billing. How? I’ll tell you how! If you had a low budget independent movie and you managed to cast a well known name in horror, you’d slap their name right on the cover too. Once it’s down to the final girl, she squares off the with now masked killers, one of which is revealed to be… a redneck. Yeah, who else would run around killing people in an amusement park. As you can figure you, things wrap up nice and neat with a little predictable twist and wink.
I know everything I mentioned must sounds like it should be the Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory of crime scenes, but the gore is very tame. Favoring just a squirt of blood and a quick glance at intestines over a geyser of entrails and carnage, which I feel the film really could have benefited from, since there is nothing in the story separating Scream Park from the pack of other cut and paste slashers. Technically speaking, Scream Park isn’t exactly Six Flags (if I may make an amusement park analogy). A majority of the shots in the film seem like bad, lifeless photographs shot with an average consumer HD camcorder. The only lighting seems to be provided by what’s only available in the environment, i.e. street lights or overhead indoor lights, making for grainy shots with muddy colors and shadows obscuring facial features or other details. Seemingly two dimensional with no depth, it focuses the camera on everything in frame rather than the subject, which makes for visually dull (and at times it can really feel like an eye sore) movie. The only scene that seems to be an exception from this is Doug Bradley’s scene, which looks well framed with some depth and has adequate lighting. It’s noticeably drastic that it feels like an entirely different movie. Wonder if he had anything to do with it? Another technical flaw is the Birdemic quality audio, where sounds drop in and out between cuts and are often covered with hiss and fizz. From time to time, there also seems to be a lack of sound effects or they sound like they were recorded in a box, sounding muffled. Luckily, the film is still enjoyable.
But personally, I like shot on video movies. That aside, Scream Park is decently paced, managing to hold your interest. Not to mention it’s packed with cameos and a lot of behind the scenes contribution, like music from The Razorblade Dolls! My favorite part of the entire movie is the character Rhodie, because it’s such an alluring performance. He doesn’t chew scenery or call in his performance, but somewhere that’s not exactly in between. It’s hard to explain exactly where it lies, but basically every line is delivered like he just woke up. Rhodie reminds me of that “dude” in high school that was always blazed and mellow, yet somehow always late for Trig. It’s as if he were an understudy for Matthew McConaughey for Dazed and Confused. Kevin ‘Ogre’ Ogilvie also brings in a fun performance as one of the redneck killers, clearly having a good time in his role and bringing his best. He ranges from shouting vulgarity to cackling like a madman, that’s sure to put a smile on your face every time.
Even though Scream Park is very typical, run of the mill, follow the ingredients type of slasher film with every beat being predictable, it’s not a terrible film. It managed to keep me entertained and I’m glad I watched it. It has a low budget charm, never trying to be more than what it is, although at times it could have used the opportunities to be something more rather than blend in anonymously with every other modern day slasher. It has some unique things about it, making seemingly dry cliches appealing, like with the killers and their interesting masks…. and Carlee’s cleavage. Ok, so not that last one, but it’s still awesome. I would say buy your ticket and take the ride!
You must be this tall to ride The Lost Highway.