Kids Go to the Woods… Kids Get Dead Movie Review
Written by Robert Gold
Written and directed by Michael Hall
2009, Region 0 (NTSC), 85 minutes, Not rated
Leah Rudick as Casey
Andrew Waffenschmidt as Scott
Meghan Miller as Heather
Kristen Adele as Robin
Eric Carpenter as Derrick
Seth Stephens as Tom
Casey (Leah Rudick) is going away for the weekend to celebrate her birthday with some friends. The trip is filled with sex, drugs and death as a masked killer crashes the party. Casey's brother Scott (Andrew Waffenschmidt) tries to save his sister with the aid of a book that features a plot eerily similar to their current crisis.
Late night television was once the home for B-movie theatre mayhem. The titles were campy, the plots cheesy and the hosts were often silly. Joe Bob Briggs took audiences to the "Drive-In Theatre" while Rhonda Shear stayed "Up All Night". As a teen I would grab the closest VHS tape and record the shows, hoping I didn't accidentally tape over anything important.
Kids Go to the Woods… Kids Get Dead is a highly entertaining movie that perfectly captures the fun of the late night goofs. The film starts with a home movie footage that is quickly replaced by static-filled TV commercials and then moves on to the main attraction. Candy Adams (Carly Goodspeed) hosts a late night program showing the titular film. After a brief introduction, the titles begin and the ride is underway.
The flick plays out with some fun dialogue, decent character development and nice blood. A quick review of the slasher movie cliché checklist: drugs, boobs, silly cops, masked killer, and a crazy old man who warns the kids to be careful are all present. While many low budget entries suffer problems with sluggish pacing, this title has the ability to jump past any bumps in the road by tweaking the central gimmick. Cutting away to our late night hostess and a quick commercial break reinforces the tone of late night tv viewing. Occasional video interference and the hint of a taped over home movie suggest the fun of watching an old VHS cassette.
Director Michael Hall has a firm grasp on the nostalgia brought by a time when late night cable TV introduced countless schlock titles to audiences before the convenience of the internet or mail-order DVD rental. His film is loaded with familiar characters and situations, yet he manages to keep the material fresh and alive. Hall's confidence extends beyond parody and he is able to build some genuine suspense. One example would be the cat and mouse pursuit of the final girl. With strong support from Robert Huntley's cinematography, and Dave Gillen's score the last act of Kids Get Dead plays as well as many of the films it emulates.
These guys have made a fun movie that doesn't take itself too seriously, but doesn't sell itself short either. All the required elements for low budget horror are on display and once the audience is in sync with the TV theatre vibe, they will find the time well spent. The sincerity and creativity of Hall and company makes me look forward to the next adventure.
Video and Audio:
Not reviewed as this is a screener.
The disc features some nice bonus materials. A five minute look behind the scenes focuses on the effects, but includes a peek at the filming of one of the more creative shots in the film. Deleted scenes are pretty useless, except for "Scott's campfire tales" which features some nice variations on the legend. The five minute gag reel shows the crew having a fun time and is actually pretty entertaining, even to people that did not work on the film.
I was both excited and worried by the prospect of this DVD. It has one of those genius titles that self markets the piece and conveys the tone to the audience effortlessly. The iconic image of the killer from My Bloody Valentine concerned me, even though the gas mask killer has been featured in a few other genre titles, it remains linked to the early '80s gem. Luckily my trepidation was unfounded and I was pleasantly surprised. Here is a film that is a perfect fit for the late night crowd.
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