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John’s Horror Corner: There’s Nothing Out There (1991), the silly raunchy horror meta-movie that came before Scream (1996).

January 5, 2020

MY CALL: Fun and dumb… and ahead of its time in its self-awareness of the genre. I’d recommend this to all fans of raunchy horror, horror meta-movies, and dated horror comedy B-movies. It’s more versatile than you’d expect. MORE MOVIES LIKE There’s Nothing Out There: For more meta-movies enjoying a lonely vacation cabin, try The Cabin in the Woods (2012), American Horror Story: 84 (2019), Tucker and Dale versus Evil (2010) and The Final Girls (2015). And don’t forget Scream (1996)—likely inspired by There’s Nothing Out There (1991) for Jamie Kennedy’s iconic character.

A group of high schoolers head out to a cabin in the woods for Spring Break. The horror fan of the group likens their remote cabin to a typical horror setting, and jokes about ways to get killed, investigating strange sounds in the woods, and that they’re hours away from help. Analyzing all the tropes and warning signs, he’s basically the progenitor character for Jamie Kennedy in Scream (1996). Really, this low budget 1991 movie was ahead of its time complete with in-dialogue references to The Thing (1982), Alien (1979), Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) and It’s Alive (1974).

The first signs that something weird is going on is the discovery of green slime in the kitchen. So naturally, ignoring all vocalized warning signs from their annoying yet horror-savvy friend, they split up to go on romantic walks in the woods in the dark or nocturnal swimming in the lake.

The special effects aren’t high quality, but they are confidently showcased as we see plenty of our amphibious tentacle monster. Appearing much like a monstrous tadpole with tentacle arms, the creature reminded me of The Boogens (1981) which, along with The Kindred (1987), offers better tentacle monster fare. Additionally, the melting face effect was weak, but… well, aren’t all melty faces still fun effects?

Showcasing his love of the oft-raunchy genre, writer and director Rolfe Kanefsky (The Hazing, Nightmare Man) opens this movie in a video rental store loaded with B-movie horror titles on the shelves (e.g., The Mutilator, Grizzly) and campy camera angles. From skinny-dipping to shower scenes, bouncing boobs abound. The women in this movie spend most of the running time in underwear, bikinis, or less. Oh, and the monster pulls an Xtro (1983), apparently trying to impregnate the women! The creature full-on pulls a girl’s top off while going for her crotch—although, with its anatomy I’m not so sure what it was going to do.

Honestly, more screen time is dedicated to scantily-clad women than to the monster itself. But for all the attention dedicated to raunchiness, the writing is readily funny and highly self-aware. So self-aware, in fact, that at one point a character sees a boom-mic and uses it to swing across the room like Indiana Jones escaping the creature. It may not be “good” writing, but you can tell the writing mattered and I’m grateful for it. Really, the steady stream of comedy kept me from feeling guilty for watching this fun flick.

I’d recommend this to all fans of raunchy horror, horror meta-movies, and dated horror comedy B-movies. It’s more versatile than you’d expect.

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