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A Craptacular Horror Movie Starring Tom Savini!

by: Dr. Boogie

When making a straight-to-video horror movie, the hardest part of the ordeal is getting some press for your film. Some choose to do this with copious gore, or some intriguing box art, but it isn't unheard of for a movie to feature someone famous in the hopes of drawing in that person's pre-existing fan base. Ultimate fighting fans would therefore be more inclined to watch Ken Shamrock ham it up in Scarecrow Gone Wild, and those few people who like both horror movies and Full House will doubtless check out Scott Weinger's Oscar worthy performance in Shredder. In this case, the famous person is special effects maestro, Tom Savini, who just happens to be the villain in (and associate producer of) a little film called Vicious.

Now, when you see his name attached to a movie, the assumption is that the movie will be considerably gory. Hell, you practically demand it when you see that his name is featured more prominently than the title of the damn movie. When you first see his name on that DVD box, it doesn't enter your mind that film companies don't advertise the special effects team on promotional materials, or at least not with just their names. Neither does it enter your mind that being the main villain in a movie cuts back on the amount of time that a person could conceivably dedicate to doing the special effects, even if said villain doesn't even show up until about a third of the way into the movie. That's where Vicious gets most of its sales: impulse buys.

But I digress. Perhaps I'm being too hard on this movie. It has plenty of star power apart from its associate producer. Consider the male lead:

Don't tell me you're unfamiliar with the name Brian Bremer? Why, he was just in... well he was in a lot of great movies, certainly. I believe he got his start in showbiz as a bug-eyed Gary Sinise impersonator.

And don't forget the incomparable Marco St. John:

He plays the secretive marine colonel. More importantly, though, he illustrates the difference between an actor who is experienced, and one who is merely old.

Indeed, watching this movie, you can't help but wonder if the film's producers didn't hire crummy actors on purpose, hoping that they wouldn't outshine Savini's performance. Likewise, it seems that in order to keep from outstripping Savini's SFX prowess, they decided that the monster in the film should be one made of high quality CGI.

HIGH quality, I say. It seems the film's monster was supposed to be animatronic, but the designers couldn't finish it in time except for the head and front paws, which were shown a couple times. I don't mean to sound critical, but if you've got part of a decent-looking monster and all of a crummy CGI monster, you should really only feature one or the other. You think the guys behind The Texas Chainsaw Massacre would've shown both a leathery mask and a CGI Leatherface? Hell no.

Also featured in this movie: comically inappropriate musical stings, equally inappropriate dubbed-in sound effects, and an exceptionally long scene involving a hillbilly who goes fishing:

Most of the buildup in the movie is either about fishing; trying to catch some fish, learning the best spots to fish, falling asleep while fishing, and so on. In this scene, you watch said hillbilly drive his vintage car out to the middle of nowhere, park it on some railroad tracks, get his fishing gear out of the back, and walk to the lake for some fishing. All that just to load up another victim for the monster. Even better, the director felt that this should be shown in real time, and with country music in the background. Essentially, the audience is bored into submission before being shown something that isn't scary at all. It's a tactic employed by many directors, principally those working in the genre of educational television.

Despite its faults, though, there were a few memorable moments in the film:

In one scene, one of the main characters is running through the forest only to fall into a large, undisguised pit that is only four feet deep, yet he still becomes trapped therein. Darwin calls that "Natural Selection," or as it's known in the Kansas school system, "God right-sizing". More memorable than that, however, is a scene with Tom Savini's character, Kane.

Kane is a government agent who's catching and feeding people to the monster for some inexplicable reason, and so the secretive colonel from before dispatches a pair of stringy marines to... dispatch him. One gets eaten outright, but the other manages to get Kane in his sights. Unfortunately, said marine stops to ask permission to fire, and in the three or four seconds it takes for him to get permission, Kane wakes up, crosses the considerable distance between the two of them, and snaps the marine's neck, all without making a sound. Then, he steals the marine's pocket camera so he can deliver a memorable line to the colonel:

"What does a 1500lb animal eat? Anyone it wants."

Not anyTHING it wants; anyONE it wants! Dun dun duuuuun!!!

In closing, this movie wasn't very gory at all. Whenever the monster got someone, all you'd get was some fake blood being thrown on some foliage accompanied by the sound of production assistants smashing watermelons off camera. I know it has Tom Savini's name plastered all over it, but it's merely a red herring. In fact, let me save you the trouble of watching the movie by showing you the bloodiest scene:

Oh my god, did you see what he did to that worm with the fishing hook? It's like Hostel, but without the porn!

Questions or Comments about this piece?
email Dr. Boogie

Want to see some more awful horror movie goodies?
Then be sure to check out Dr. Boogie's feature on:

Scarecrow Gone Wild!
Scarecrow Gone Wild!



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