By Richard Winters
My Rating: 0 out of 10
4-Word Review: Punks versus deformed boy.
Lisa (Linda Blair) invites her friend Kathy (Donna Wilkes) over to her remote parent’s cabin for the weekend to help her get over a recent painful break-up. Lisa’s father Orville (Guy Stockwell) is a famous special effects artist for horror movies and the home is filled with all sorts of spooky masks and props. Unfortunately a gang of punks lead by Scratch (Brad Wilson) invade the home looking for money. Lisa’s parents are brutally murdered as well as Kathy. Lisa manages to get away, but eventually chased down outside in the snow. Yet the punks do not realize that another person is in the home, Patrick (Robert Apisa), who resides in a hidden room. He’s a boy with massive facial deformities that the parents kept in a secret room, but who is able to escape after the massacre. He then chases the punks down and begins offing them one-by-one while the police and Orville’s brother Rod (Tab Hunter) also go after the punks.
Filmed on-location in Big Bear Lake the film has a similar storyline to the Canadian cult classic Death Weekend and while that one had its share of faults it’s still far better than this, which has so many issues it’s had to know where to begin. The overly exaggerated performances of the punks, particularly by their leader who acts like he’s consumed way too much caffeine, is one of the bigger problems. There’s also no explanation for how they manage to find Orville’s very remote house especially since their van breaks down on the way. They try to ask Lisa for help, but she drives on, so who eventually came to their rescue to get them back on the road, or did they walk there and if so that should’ve been shown. It’s also irritating how they’re shown outside the home one second and then magically inside the place the next, but with no explanation for how they get in.
Linda Blair is certainly a fine actress, but she gets partially to blame for this monstrosity since she also co-produced. Donna Wilkes is quite appealing as usual and had she stayed in it the whole way and became the heroine I would’ve given it more points, but once she goes down it really gets bad. I felt the idea of having her sleep in the same bed with Lisa in Lisa’s bedroom looked a bit odd. If they were 8-year-olds on a sleepover that might be fine, but adult women, who were not in an intimate relationship, would most likely want more privacy and the home from the outside looked to have three stories, so you’d think there would be an extra spare bedroom, or two.
I didn’t like the addition of the Patrick character at all. Patrick gets mentioned briefly by Lisa and her mother, but I felt the viewer needed to be more fully aware that there was a secret room and someone in it long before the punks arrive. I didn’t understand why this deformed individual had such amazing strength either. If he had been cooped-up in a tiny room his whole life then I’d think the reverse would be true. His muscles would atrophy due to under use and he’d be weaker than normal instead of stronger.
The addition of the Tab Hunter character I actually liked. He plays a rugged, macho guy who tries to single-handily hunt down the punks and plays it with a fun style. I could’ve even tolerated the one twist ending that revealed Patrick to be his son and that Hunter himself was deformed and only able to hide it by wearing a plastic, form-fitting mask created by his brother. What I couldn’t stand was the double-twist, which has the whole thing being a movie created by Orville and as everyone is sitting in the theater watching it the film reel inside the projection booth gets messed with by a wolf man and Frankenstein, who then proceed to scare everyone out of the cinema when they walk in.
There’s no way anyone would get scared by two idiots that look to be wearing a tacky Halloween get-up and to give the whole thing a comical ending when the rest of it had been played-up as being serious is quite jarring. Normally after watching a bad movie and I feel disappointed, but in his case I was angry. It’s a genuine insult to have to sit through this and I honestly felt the writer-director should’ve been punished for having the audacity to make it and think anyone would be stupid enough to enjoy it.
My Rating: 0 out of 10
Released: September 9, 1988
Runtime: 1 Hour 29 Minutes
Director: Joe Tornatore
Studio: Empire Pictures
Available: DVD, Fandor, Plex, Tubi, Amazon Video