Dusty’s Worst of 2014

You’ve already been treated to Renfield & Shawn’s lists, so now it’s time to take a look at mine.  Because I know you can’t get enough of these sweet, sweet lists.
My plan was to combine my Best and Worst onto one list.  But then I got to writing and it got a little too long.  So we’ll roll with Worst right now, and I’ll follow up with my Best in a day or two.

I couldn’t find 10 films I really disliked, but it’s because I avoided a lot of movies that probably would have ended up on that list.  Jessabelle, Ouija, Paranormal Activities: The Marked Ones.  All of these were left unseen by me.  I thought about throwing them at the bottom of the list, but that seems cruel.  One day I’ll watch them and rant about them then.  I don’t want to ruin all that fun just yet.  I gotta pace myself, you see.


9. Zombeavers
It’s not that it was terrible.  It’s more what it represents, combined with the fact that it just wasn’t very good.  What it represents is the new SyFy movie trend of making an obviously bad movie, with the plan of making it so ridiculous (and making the title ridiculous) that people will love it for those reasons.  It’s a way to get people to love something ironically, without actually ever trying to make a movie that would stand on its own merits.  SyFy has been making movies for a while, and, while they’ve been pretty ridiculous, they didn’t always fit this bill.  I would tell you how many times I’ve seen Frankenfish, Minotaur, Yeti, Ice Spiders and Sabretooth, but I don’t need your judgement right now.  The wife and I once made sure we were both home to watch Odysseus: Voyage to the Underworld, starring one Arnold “Imhotep” Vosloo.  They were also behind some really quality movies, like Splinter.  They weren’t cheesy all creature-features.  Then the giant shark movies started showing up, and it all went to hell.  “What if we made nothing but stupid, over-the-top movies?”  It’s hard to fault them, really: I’m sure the Sharknado series has drawn in more viewers/money than Battlestar Galactica ever did.
I’m getting on an old-man rant, so it’s time to pull myself out.
That brings us to Zombeavers.  There was no plan in place to make this a good movie.  The idea started and ended with, “What if there were zombie beavers?”  It wasn’t funny.  It wasn’t clever.  It was just a loud, obnoxious movie about zombie beavers attacking sex-addicted college students in a remote cabin.  There were a couple funny moments, but, for the most part, it was really painful.  An unfunny idea that was turned into a movie without much thought put into it.  I didn’t hate it, but it wasn’t good, and it’s just the latest example of a trend that has gone too far.
If it tells you anything, my favorite part of the movie was watching the outtakes with Bill Burr and John Mayer ad-libbing while driving around in a truck.

Willow Creek

8. Willow Creek
This is on here because I wanted it to be good.  It’s a found footage Bigfoot movie directed by Bobcat Golthwait.  I’m a fan of Bigfoot, and, seeing as how I had just visited the International Cryptozoology Museum, I was really looking forward to this.
It was really boring, and seemed to steal scenes directly from The Blair Witch Project (Golthwait says he’s never seen Blair Witch, so I guess it’s just some sort of terrible coincidence).  There were a few decent scenes, but I couldn’t stand the main guy, and that really hurt the movie.  It wasn’t terrible, but it just wasn’t very good.
My original review.

Quiet Ones

7. The Quiet Ones
I’m a fan of Hammer films.  I love the classics, and I’m a huge fan of The Woman in Black.  This has a great cast and a pretty cool story (well, the story this was loosely based on was good.  This version left quite a bit to be desired), but it didn’t really go anywhere.  The writing wasn’t very good, and the characters were barely characters at all.  Like Willow Creek, this wasn’t terrible, but it was really boring and just kind of a slog to get through.

Purge_ Anarchy

6. The Purge: Anarchy
I really disliked the first Purge movie.  One of my main complaints was that it didn’t show enough of the wider carnage.  All we got was the inside of one house, and the family we were stuck with was terrible.
I got my wish here.  We saw a bigger view of the city.  We got more people involved.  It was exactly what I wanted.  Until I realized that it wasn’t.  Outside of the main character (who was more an action movie stereotype than a character), there wasn’t another likable character to be found.  I think there were a couple good scenes, but I can’t seem to remember them, so maybe it was part of a fever dream.
They tried hard to up their political statement game with this one, and they failed horribly.  It wasn’t smart enough to really say anything; just a string of failed concepts.  How is this only sitting at 6?

ABCs of Death 2

5. ABCs of Death 2
Oh.  Right.  Because other movies came out this year that were quite a bit worse.
I didn’t care for the first ABCs of Death, so I wasn’t looking forward to this one.  But I started watching it anyway, because I hate myself.  I say “started”, because I didn’t finish this.  I don’t know that I even made it halfway through.  I had planned to watch the whole thing under the premise of, “If I don’t like what’s on my screen right now, I’ll just wait 5 minutes and a new short will be on.”  But then I remembered I would be doing that for 2 hours, and I just couldn’t do that to myself.  I think I watched 6-7 segments (maybe more), and I didn’t like any of them.  Had I finished this, it would probably be higher on this list.  Or I would be dead.  Either way, I guess.

Wolf Creek 2

4. Wolf Creek 2
In what seems to be a theme on this list, I didn’t love the first Wolf Creek.  It wasn’t bad, but there just wasn’t much to it.
For this one, they decided to make Mick Taylor – the killer – more of a personality.  Tell some jokes.  Yuk it up.  Make him more of a wisecracking ne’er-do-well/serial killer.  The people love to laugh with the guy who is brutally murdering and torturing innocent humans, right?
Maybe the thought process was that many people do cheer for the killers in slashers.  But that’s a little different than this.  People cheer for Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers because they’re known entities, and the victims are purposefully vapid.  “Who cares if they die?  They’re not doing the world any good, anyway.”
You could counter my Mick Taylor argument with, “Freddy Krueger cracks jokes,” but those movies were different than this.  By the time Freddy was cracking jokes (“Soul food, nyuk nyuk nyuk.”), those movies had long since veered into the ridiculous.  So far, the Wolf Creek films are still trying to be grounded in reality.  Sure, Mick Taylor may laugh and make jokes as he’s running over a herd of kangaroos (nyuk nyuk nyuk), but they’re still supposed to feel real (they have to, or the ugly torture scenes would be for naught).  This took what I disliked about the first one and made it uglier.
My original review.

Alien Abduction

3. Alien Abduction
I had high hopes for this.  Something about a found footage alien movie sounded cool.  It sounded like something I could get down with.  But the family we followed were boring/awful, and the movie just dragged.  It was basically the “Slumber Party Alien Abduction” segment from V/H/S/2 stretched out over 85 minutes.
Hey!  Speaking of V/H/S

VHS_ Viral

2. V/H/S/: Viral
I didn’t like V/H/S, but I thought part 2 was a huge step up.  I didn’t have high hopes for this, but I did think it would be somewhat enjoyable.  I wasn’t expecting something amazing, just something halfway decent.
I didn’t get that.  I didn’t get that at all.
The second segment – “Parallel Monsters” – wasn’t bad.  It was a decent idea, but it drug on for a bit too long.  Still, a decent enough segment.
The rest was terrible.  The segment with the magician and the magic coat was laughable, and didn’t seem to fit at all within the found footage of the rest of the films.  I honestly thought it was a joke, but I was mistaken.  The skateboarder segment was entirely too long, and the characters were insufferable.  The wraparound story was amazingly confusing.  The entire movie was littered with terrible effects of limbs being chopped off.  This was a terrible, terrible movie.  I know anthology films can be a mixed bag, but there was very little to like here.  “Parallel Monsters” wasn’t even good enough to warrant a rewatch.
And the only reason it wasn’t the worst movie I saw this year…

Leprechaun_ Origins

1. Leprechaun: Origins
I like the original Leprechaun series.  I don’t love it, and I certainly don’t think they’re good movies, but I enjoy them for what they are: ridiculous slasher movies about a killer Leprechaun.  Even if I’m not necessarily in the mood for that kind of thing, they’re pretty good movies to put on in the background while I’m doing something else.  I look up from making dinner, see the Leprechaun killing a guy by jumping on him with a pogo stick, smile, and go back to dinner.
I had prepared myself for something different with this movie.  Something darker.  I was looking forward to it.  The original Leprechaun was kind of played out.  With Warwick Davis being replaced by WWE’s Hornswoggle, I was perfectly fine with a change of direction.
But not like this.  Never like this.
The writing was terrible.  The actual origin story was all told by a 4 minute info dump in a basement.  The only likable character was Sophie, but she was only likable because she was set up as our proxy.  None of the characters had much in the way of an actual character.  Sophie and her boyfriend were having issues, but they did nothing to add to the story or the characters.
And the Leprechaun?  They say it was Hornswoggle, but who could know for sure?  Underneath the Galaxy Invader-esque rubber suit, it could have been anyone.  It could have been the kid from Small Wonder for all I knew.
There was not a single redeeming factor in this movie.  I thought I would at least find something to have fun with.  “So good it’s bad.”  I didn’t find that.  Maybe I needed to watch it with a big group of people, but I don’t even know if that would’ve helped.  This was a terrible movie.  Please don’t watch it.  Even if you like the Leprechaun series, don’t watch it.  Please.  I beg you.
My original review.

I swear I didn’t hate every movie I saw this year.  I’m not an overly negative person.  I promise.  Best of list coming in the next day or so.

Wolf Creek 2 review

Wolf Creek 2 Poster

Review by Christopher Maynard

Wolf Creek 2
Directed by Greg McLean
Starring John Jarratt, Ryan Corr and Shannon Ashlyn

One of the great things about Wolf Creek 2 is you should know pretty quickly if this is your kind of movie or not. This is a movie with no aspirations to be anything more than an over the top, gore-soaked good time.  The only question is this: what constitutes a good time to you?  Give it five minutes and I’m sure you will know if your idea of a fun night matches that of the filmmakers. I, for one, was in right away. The opening scene was so good the movie could have completely gone off the rails and I still would have been inclined to give it a mostly positive review. Thankfully that is not the case in Greg McLean’s follow up to 2005’s Wolf Creek.

McLean seems to have learned how to make a sequel by watching James Cameron’s Aliens. While Wolf Creek 2 features the same lead in a similar set of circumstances, everything is amplified and played much bigger. The gore, suspense and, oddly enough, comedy are all ratcheted up for this installment. A lot of sequels try this formula but many fail. Wolf Creek 2 is in no way a failure. I’m certain Greg McLean has made the exact film that he intended to make and I’m glad he has.

The film opens on two bored police officers manning a speed trap. The officers are instantly shown to be characters of low moral fiber and you watch with full confidence they will be getting their comeuppance soon enough. The officers decide to pull over a pickup truck for speeding, despite the fact the truck was not speeding. It would help pass the time and help fill the quotas. The guy they decided to pick on is Mick Taylor (John Jarratt) and if you’ve seen the first Wolf Creek you will know how egregious an error they made. It’s been years since I saw the first Wolf Creek but the second Mick entered the frame I was taken back and knew I was in for something special.

I’m not sure why the makers of this film felt the need to bookend the film with “based on true events” title cards.  Sure, this is based on some kernel of truth but it plays out like Evil Dead 2, not 12 Years a Slave. This movie feels so far removed from reality that it’s jarring when it points out it was based in reality. Was this supposed to be an examination of darkness? I don’t believe that for a second. The bookends give a sober feeling that is never on display in the rest of this film. This is really nit-picky because it in no way detracted from my enjoyment of the film. Just kind of ended the film on an awkward note that felt out of place; it was like the title card from the end of Zodiac being put on Rubber.

The fucking kangaroo scene…wow, I have nothing to say but wow.

Wolf Creek 2 is currently streaming on Netflix.

Here is a different view of this movie by Dusty.  He did not love it.

Wolf Creek 2

Wolf Creek 2 Poster

Description from Netflix:
Backpackers Rutger and Katarina escape the city for an adventurous vacation in the Australian outback…but their dream trip turns into a nightmare when they run into a bloodthirsty serial killer with a penchant for sadistic games.

My thoughts:
I love slasher movies.  It’s a well-known fact about me.  And yet I didn’t love the original Wolf Creek.  It took me a while to figure out what I didn’t like about it, but I think I finally nailed it down: it seemed like they were more interested in making the killer interesting than about fleshing out the people he was killing.  It seems lazy; like they’re skipping a step.  The great slashers – the icons – didn’t start as the focal point of the movies.  Michael Myers.  Freddy Krueger.  Jason Voorhees.  Leatherface.  The movies focused on their victims.  They made us care for the victims.  The idolization of the killers came after.  With Wolf Creek, it felt like they had built up this killer to be interesting and magnetizing, and forgot to make the victims people worth caring about.  If I don’t care about the people on the other end of the knife (or machete, or chainsaw…), the movie loses some of its heart.  This is not necessarily true of sequels – when most teens are nothing more than cannon fodder – but it’s true of the first in a series.  Wolf Creek failed at that most basic premise.


All that being said, I was still interested in the sequel.  I was curious to see where they would take it.  After all, the first movie was nothing if not simplistic: seemingly friendly bushman kidnaps, tortures and kills.  It’s a basic slasher set-up, if in a different location than we’re used to seeing.  Setting it in the vast expanse of Australia was the most interesting thing about the first movie.  Even when you escape, you don’t necessarily have anywhere to run.  It lent an extra air of hopelessness to an already bleak situation.

That was present again here.  Australia makes for a beautiful setting, but also a terrifying one.  Unfortunately, the setting alone does not a good movie make.  Aside from the setting, this movie had very little going for it.

For starters, they decided to make Mick Taylor an even bigger presence in this movie.  It was as if they were actively trying to convince me that Mick Taylor deserved to be the next big slasher icon.  They did this by making him talk more.  Rattling off one-liners.  Saying “funny” things about the terrible deeds he was committing.  Perhaps this worked for some people, but it didn’t do anything for me.  Freddy Krueger didn’t go into full wise-cracking mode until his fourth movie (if you want to say it was his third, you’ll get no argument from me), but he was on an entirely different level from Mick Taylor from the word “go”.  They were going for “wacky and endearing,” but all they got was “annoyingly over-the-top”.
Writer/director Greg McLean has said that “[Mick Taylor was] the most interesting thing about the first movie.”  That would explain the direction this one took.

Hey Vern!
Hey Vern!

I have already fallen into the same trap as the writers.  Thus far, I have only focused on Mick Taylor.  So let’s talk about his victims for a second.
We start with German backpackers Rutger and Katarina (who sort of reminded me of Lizzy Caplan) hiking to Wolf Creek, camping along a trail, and getting attacked by Mick Taylor.  Rutger is killed and hacked up while trying to protect Katarina.  (This raises a question.  Mick has a house with a “workshop”, so why does he hack-up Rutger out in the open?  It’s dark, and the chances that someone would come across their path is minimal, but there’s still a chance that someone could see the atrocities being committed, especially since Mick has the huge floodlights on his truck on.  Not hard to miss when you’re surrounded by flat land.)  Katarina is able to escape and makes it to the road, where she is discovered by Paul, a handsome British tourist in a jeep.  Paul tries to drive off with Katarina, but Mick appears and shoots her.  And so, roughly 20 minutes into the movie, who we thought would be our two main characters are dead.  This aspect reminded me of 2009’s Friday the 13th.

What followed was a series of scenes featuring Paul trying to get away from Mick.  Most of these were terrible.  An example: we have seen Paul driving his jeep off road a lot.  It has been established that his jeep can handle the Australian terrain.  And yet there is a long scene in which he is chased by Mick in a semi truck (which is definitely NOT an all-terrain vehicle), but for some reason decides to stick to the road.  If I haven’t made myself clear, the road is the only place the semi can go.  And yet he stays on the road as Mick tries to kill him with a semi.  So, basically, it turned into The Hitcher for about 15 minutes.  (Maybe that’s why they named one of the characters Rutger?)  “Just go off road,” I repeatedly screamed at the TV.  Paul never heard my cries.


During this chase scene, Mick hits/runs over a herd of crossing kangaroos.  As he did his, he was spouting off one-liners like John McClain (if John McClain killed kangaroos instead of terrorists).  This was supposed to be funny.  It most definitely was not.
Again, this goes back to the lack of connection with Mick.  I don’t really have any connection to the character, so why would I like when he runs down kangaroos and makes jokes about it?

There were also a fair number of standard slasher complaints.  “When you knock him out with a hammer, make sure to finish the job.”  Things of that nature.  But, if you’re a fan of slashers, you’ve become accustomed to overlooking this faulty logic, so I won’t dwell on them here.

"Anyone seen those bad men who stop other bad men?"
“Anyone seen those bad men who stop other bad men?”

That’s not to say the movie was all bad.  The performance by Ryan Corr (as Paul) was tremendous.  There’s a long scene of him being terrified, but also trying to humor Mick.  His face fluctuates seamlessly between laughter and pure terror.  It was the best scene in the movie, and Corr carried it.  (Fun fact: Corr had a very small part in Where The Wild Things Are.)
I also really liked Mick’s lair.  It was filled with terrible tools to do terrible things.  It was a small, claustrophobic room that offered little chance of escape.  Because, even if you did escape out of the oh-so-tempting door, all you would run into would be a series of winding corridors filled with previous victims, bloodthirsty dogs, and booby-traps.  These corridors weren’t on the level of House of 1000 Corpses, Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 or True Detective, but they were still pretty creepy.

This wasn’t a very good movie.  There were a few redeeming qualities, but not many.  If you liked the first one, you’ll probably like this one.  The key to enjoying this movie hinges on one question: do you like Mick Taylor?  If you do, you’ll like it.  If you don’t, your views will probably be a lot like mine.

Rating: 1.5/5