30 September 2015

REST STOP/2006


This article really will cover the two Rest Stop movies put out by the Warner Home Video label called Raw Feed. These are films (videos most likely) that will be straight to DVD releases and that will entail all the good and bad that comes with such releases. The good, I guess, is that the films will simply have an opportunity to be seen as they probably would never if they had to relay on being shown at theaters where people probably would not want to pay that much to see a low budget/no name film. Another good point may be that the films can be as gory and sexy as they want without having to deal with ratings. In theory there is nothing really wrong with the concept of a film being released straight to DVD. There is no reason a film cannot be entertaining and yet avoid the pressures put it from having to show and compete in the Cineplex market. No doubt one has to lower his expectations when getting one of these straight to DVD films and I am sure most people do. One can sort of think of them as a kind of made for TV experience. But therein lies the problem really; made for TV movies, like straight to DVD movies, typically suck. Most straight to DVD films, if not all really, are horror or action type films. If the film is sci-fi (which though related to horror in some respects usually requires a higher budget) it is one of those post-apocalypse type sci-fi flick like The Road Warrior. Except that the Road Warrior was a great film and most of these other post-apocalyptic movies are horrible at best. Straight to DVD tends to be a euphemism for lack of money and talent. Some people can argue that a super low budget does not mean there will be no talent involved and of course there are exceptions (I am trying to think of one now but can’t right now, I’ll get back if something comes to me, and please don’t tell me about the British zombie flick Colin okay, God that was awful) but for the most part film makers who have choices shy away from horrible scripts with unknown actors and directors. But for some reason horror is one genre where people seem to say "hey, we don't need a good script or good actors or a good camera or any money to make a movie! Just a bottle of ketchup and some girls who will flash their boobs!"



Now all that being said I was not totally disappointed with the Rest Stop movies though hardly thrilled either. They weren’t that bad, but they were sure as to hell bad. In the end I finished them both without ejecting them and that is about as good a recommendation as I can give. John Siban, who produced the X-Files TV series, produced wrote and directed the first Rest Stop (Dead Ahead) and produced and wrote  the second film (Don’t Look Back) which was directed by Shawn Papazian. And then you get into this deal where you try to research a name like Shawn Papazian you see he has directed one other straight to DVD film called Horror High. Siban seems to be more of a producer and has only directed two other items and those were episodes of television shows. Again that does not mean a person cannot make the transition from TV to movies but typically it does not bode well.

There is not much real reason to review each movie separately and to talk about them back and forth and even get the plots and stories all mixed up is not really that big a deal. The basic plot of each film is about small groups of teenagers who are stalked by some demonic redneck slasher when they stop to pee at a rest stop on an unmapped highway. The films are pretty derivative of the whole Saw and Hostel type horror which seems to rely on people being tied up and tortured slowly. Heavy on gore (though the blood in Rest Stop looks pretty red and syrupy for a modern horror flick) and weird inbred type country folk driving around southern California the films look like a million others. The supernatural element only serves to make the stories more confusing really and could have been totally done without. But I am seeing this thread in other hick killer films lately like The Graves. But what else can a filmmaker with no real budget do I guess, either you make a zombie movie or a movie about murderous hillbillies stalking lost, horny teenagers. To make a variation on a theme I guess you can throw in some satanic subplot and give the killers extra powers but I don’t know if I really like that. I think killer hicks seem even more goofy when they are imbued with demonic powers.



I was going to write more and go into each film a bit but I have decided to just wrap this up. I’ll put up a few screen captures I found online and call it a review. I really try to be open to these straight to video/DVD productions but I find myself talking about them the way I do restaurants  in China (where I live) most of the time. If after I meal if I can say “well, that wasn’t so bad” then I have broken even I guess. Most of these films, like Rest Stop, lack the charm to really be good camp fare as well. The violence is utterly gratuitous and pointless. The characters are all basically unlikable so you do not care if the killer gets to them or not. The weird family in the Winnebago are caricatures from a dozen other films like this. The father quoting the Bible, the mother a nympho, twin brothers who just stare and do nothing and a midget or dwarf who loves taking Polaroids. They are over the top and you can see the director trying to come up with yet another weird thing for the family to say or do. It is simply unoriginal and wears thin quickly since the movie has nothing much to offer. It is shot on video (I assume since it looks like crap) and no one can act. One redeeming performance is a small role by Steve Railsback as a gas station operator in part two. Look I sat through them both back to back and if you’re in the right mood they may have something going for them so long as you know in advance to lower your expectations. But if you’re reading this blog then you’re already used to that aren’t you.

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