Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Legend of the Psychotic Forest Ranger (2011)

Horror movies that have a great poster and a fantastic title often sell themselves, and this was never more apparent than in the 1980s. I recall many hours combing through the horror section at the local video store, and would pick a countless number of unknown films based on the title and box art alone.

Of course, selections from this VHS wasteland usually proved to be disappointing, thanks to the invariably stilted dialogue, wooden acting, and clichéd storytelling. Such is the same for The Legend of the Psychotic Forest Ranger. However, in this case, all of the elements that marred '80s horror films are intentionally part of this movie, which makes it one of the more successful throwbacks that I've seen to this golden age of cheap video horrors--and easily could have been produced thirty years ago. With that in mind, you should know what to expect--and will likely enjoy the result.

All the basic tropes are present, beginning with a group of teenagers whose car breaks down--so they seek refuge in a cabin in a remote, wooded area. The cast of victims include the headstrong jock, the blonde princess, the fretting brunette, and the geek virgin (since these movies require a higher body count, they eventually cross paths with another group of similar, disposable teens). After their friends start disappearing, they even come up with absurd rationalizations to explain their absence.

Human fodder: check!
This wouldn't be an '80s homage without an axe-wielding murderer, whose existence defies logic and is never fully explained. This doesn't matter, because the audience is too busy watching him chew the scenery, as he spits out a plethora of one-liners just before the kill shot.

This guy hates people who litter, or camp without a permit.Actually, anyone still breathing is a target!
Although The Legend of the Psychotic Forest Ranger wholly embraces bad '80s horror filmmaking, often it doesn't seem to go quite far enough. I'm not at all a modern gorehound, but I believe this film could have used more over-the-top '80s gore: much more blood, and fake-looking body parts. It's also missing the requisite, gratuitous nudity, but it's understandable why this group of fledgling Canadian actors didn't see the need to make the film that close of an homage.

So I'm on the fence with this one. It's very close to being in the "so bad it's good" category; the trouble is, I think writer/director Brad Mills sometimes tries too hard to make the movie look awful. You have to give him credit, though; apparently he raised the $50K to shoot the film by only soliciting investors on Facebook! The crew was primarily from Montreal, who were recent graduates from Concordia's Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema. Featuring an all-Nova Scotian cast, the film was shot over 23 days in Cape Breton. The brilliant poster was illustrated by Tom Hodge, who also created the artwork for the Canadian grindhouse/exploitation flick Hobo with a Shotgun (2011).

I'd certainly recommend it as a rental, and it can also be purchased online. For more information about the film, check out the official website--there's even plans for a sequel!

The Legend of the Psychotic Forest Ranger
Written and directed by Brad Mills. Canada, 80m. Paranoid Brunette productions.

With Michael G MacDonald as the Psychotic Forest Ranger, Samuel MacDonald LeMoine as Kyle, Colleen MacIsaac as Beth, Stefanie Peters as Chrissy, Gabe House as Brent, Ricky Newtown as David, Jeannine MacLean as Amber, Bhreagh Lafitte as Jenny, Joshua Demeyere as Bradley, Keith Morrison as the Police Officer, and Aaron Corbett as Ranger Dan.

*** out of *****


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