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John’s Horror Corner: Wrong Turn 2: Dead End (2007), an over-the-top gorefest that was made for Henry Rollins.

November 22, 2016

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MY CALL:  More of a slapstick, less credible, “bad movie” version of Wrong Turn (2003), offering less in almost every way…except for Henry Rollins and gore.  Rollins and some over-the-top gore make this worth a watch for fans of the original.  MORE MOVIES LIKE Wrong Turn 2: Dead EndWrong Turn (2003), The Hills Have Eyes 1-2 (1977, 1984, 2006, 2007), Just Before Dawn (1981), The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986) will all continue to satisfy the hillbilly horror subgenre.  Maybe Cabin Fever 1-3 (2002-2014) for the gore hounds.

Director Joe Lynch (Chillerama, Knights of Badassdom) picks up where Wrong Turn’s director Rob Schmidt left off in the Greenbriar Back Country of West Virginia.  Unfortunately, Lynch doesn’t do nearly as well, except when almost satirizing part 1 with slapstick gorefest violence.

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This sequel features less flattering introductory shots of the Appalachian woods.  But I happily enjoyed the cameos in the opening sequence.  While on the phone with her agent her agent (Patton Oswalt; Odd Thomas), singer Kimberly Caldwell (as herself) makes the very same “wrong turn” that got those folks into trouble in Wrong Turn (2003) and hits a young mutant hillbilly.  The brutal tone is set immediately as the disfigured boy bites off her lips and she is cut top-to-bottom in half, dropping her intestines in a gore-slathered mess as we watch her legs fall in opposite directions!  If you don’t simply love that, then you may as well stop the movie right there.

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Retired marine and TV show personality Dale (Henry Rollins; He Never Died, Feast) hosts Ultimate Survivor.  The contestants include the X Games athlete Jonesy (Steve Braun; The Skulls III, Pterodactyl), overly conceited Elena (Crystal Lowe; Insomnia, Final Destination 3), artist Nina (Scream Queen Erica Leerhsen; The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Book of Shadows: The Blair Witch 2), ex-football star Jake (Texas Battle; Final Destination 3), marine Amber (Daniella Alonso; The Hills Have Eyes 2, The Collector), and the recently deceased Kimberly Caldwell.  To win The Ultimate Survivor they need to endure five days in the wilderness.  Producers Mara (Aleksa Palladino; Holidays, The Ring Two) and M (Matthew Currie Holmes; The Fog) organize as Dale barks survivalist melodrama at the contestants.5329-219f91a4cf9572cc0d894647ee1f3aea9

As we meet our cast of victims, the acting wreaks of stagnant direct-to-DVD dialogue—the writers clearly didn’t care.  It just “feels bad.”  What holds it together is Henry Rollins.  Maybe I’m just a fan, but he seems to be the only one who cares about his role—or maybe he’s the only member of the cast the director liked.  His scenes produced the majority of entertaining action and decent on-screen kills.  It seems like this movie was made thinking of him, and to that end I withdraw my previous complaints about the film.

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With head-cams on each contestant and hidden cameras throughout the forest, we watch as our victims wander into harm’s way.  We encounter deformed mountain men scalping people, shamefully forced gratuitous nudity, a messy birth scene of a monster baby, some decent after-the-fact gore, and a goofy incest scene.  Even if you consider Wrong Turn (2003) a “bad movie,” this is a “badder movie” that thankfully retains its so-bad-it’s-good status for our entertainment.  Attention was only aimed at over-the-top details (i.e., goofy incest) and not the atmospheric aspects (e.g., the inbred family cabin contains not a fraction of the macabre unkempt horror of part 1).

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We have a new mutant redneck family that is a bit less animalistic than before.  Three-Finger returns from part 1 (played by a different actor) and is a less menacing, more slapstick farce of his former self.  And part 1’s gas station owner (Wayne Robson; Cube, Wrong Turn) is back and, for some reason, looks far healthier.

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I don’t know about you, but I really loved Wrong Turn (2003). It was nothing stunning film-wise, but it scratches an itch I have every now and then—like when I want something brutal, but not The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974, 2003) brutal.  It cultivates a fun experience, has several recognizable actors and is highly rewatchable. The shots of the forest were gorgeous (when not CGI), there was thematic admixture of things feisty and dire, and the brutality was visceral!

This sequel, however, has zero cinematography worth mentioning.  All in all, this is a mixed bag.  The brutality (outside of the playful death of Kimberly Caldwell) is over-staged and uninspired in the first hour yet somehow spectacular in the third act.  The characters are bottom-of-the-barrel, but the inbred cannibal rednecks manage to live up to the hillbilly horror subgenre in the end after a stale early introduction.  We are never nervous, shocked or on edge.  Although you’ll enjoy more than a few gory chuckles during Henry Rollins’ scenes.  They reach sloppy delight status towards the end.

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Rollins basically goes survivalist Rambo. He stitches himself up, escapes being butchered, detonates incestuous hillbillies, and makes explosive arrows.  He essentially saves this movie from complete unwatchability.  By the end, this was basically trying to be The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986) with its macabre cannibal butchery, the dinner scene, and Dale’s crazed rescue mission into their lair.

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Dead End (top); The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (bottom)

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The first half of this movie may be terrible, but it might just be worth it for the last gloriously gut-sloppy 30 minutes and, of course, the opening sequence.  It becomes a great B-movie death scene mess of gore as bodies are literally ground into chum and offal.  Oh, and of course, it gives a direct nod to usher in future sequels.

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