Thursday, November 25, 2010

A Real Turkey: Scalps

I'm thankful for many things.  Unfortunately, the shitty movies that I continue to subject myself to on the holidays is not one of them.  Go ahead- take a look back at them.  Peter Rottentail, Toxic Zombies and Pocahauntus- just to name a few.  Hey, guess what- it's another holiday.  That means another piece of shit movie to talk about.  Oh boy, I can't wait to relive this one.  Made in 1983, this Fred Olen Ray film apparently went through quite a bit of editing.  The original film clocks in at 83 minutes (my god!), but it's original cut was down to 74 minutes.  Oddly, none of the cuts were that related to violent content or gore.  Thankfully, a DVD company got the full cut back together for us to see.  Oh good, because I couldn't have found anything else to do with those extra nine minutes of my life!  The film involves an evil Indian spirit coming to life, some idiots hanging around the site and death ensuing.  I'll try to contain my excitement.  Get out your blunt arrows for my review of...
The film begins with a warning that the version I'm about to see has been cobbled together from a number of sources, so video quality may vary.  I've been raised on Pan & Scan releases, the 'not quite widescreen' cuts and, my favorite, the un-edited VHS transfer, so I can handle it.  We get some random shots from the desert that involve an old man, a person digging through the rocks and...a man in a cat mask popping in front of the camera.  Fun fact: Fred Olen Ray claims that this was test footage and not meant for the film.  News Flash: the makers of Planet of the Dinosaurs didn't mean for you to use their footage twice!  The plot jumps to the city to focus on a Professor who wants to go out and make a dig.  After some bad banter- accented by some even worse Sound Editing- he goes outside to talk to his buddy.  He's played Forrest J. Ackerman, who makes sure to hold his own magazine right at the camera the whole time.  The point of this cameo: nothing.  The Professor goes off to talk to his students- who appear to be in the late-20s- and sends them off to go digging for arrow heads.  The only problem: it's illegal.  Thankfully, he is not going with them, so they can just get in trouble by themselves.  So they drive off...and keep driving...and driving.  Now I see how you used those extra 9 minutes!
Seriously, we've gotten into Manos territory here!  After more than a few minutes of driving, shots from the car and talking whilst in the car, we get a break with...them stopping for gas and snacks.  Yeah, that's not really a plot, movie.  They talk about the dig, which is not bright when you consider that it's illegal.  The generic people at the gas station warn them about the dangers.  Naturally, being total idiots, they blow them off and go anyways.  Why couldn't you have skipped the trip and spared me the rest of this movie?!?  They get there and do some digging.  It's pretty much the same thing you get from Zombi 5: Killing Birds and it's just as scintillating as it was there!  We get random flashes of the Indian lady head as well, another thing that Ray objected to.  He didn't complain about them being in the movie, mind you.  He just complained that they were used so randomly.  I'd care more, but you still made Scalps.  They eventually go near the cave mouth we saw earlier and find a bowl used for Indian ceremonies.  Just for fun, they decide to do one.  Yeah, that never ends well.
I'm bored, so i'm hitting the writing equivalent of the Fast-Forward button.  One of the group gets possessed by the evil spirit and starts the killing.  More random shots of the head too.  One of the girls gets killed and scalped.  It's not a terrible effect, but it's not exactly 'worth the price of admission.'  Another odd bit involves one of the girls running from the killer, who is shooting arrows at her.  This girl takes three arrows to the back and one to the leg before finally going down!  You're such a wuss, Boromir!  Our remaining heroes can't leave due to the car being damaged, so they have to battle the creature.  The fight is not exactly thrilling, folks.  The spirit goes down, but the others are killed.  The Professor finally shows up, only to get killed by the creature in a new body.  They also tease a sequel in the credits too- Scalps II: The Return of DJ.  I'm pretty sure that the film was never made.  The End.
This movie sucks- big shock.  The plot is a joke, basically serving as a giant ball of cliches.  Seriously, this film has been made about 500 times, just with the 'Indian spirit' switched out for any random monster.  The acting is not good, the effects are not good and the script-writing isn't great either.  There's really not much to talk about here.  I don't care about these people, nor do I care whether they live or die.  What's the point?  Fred Olen Ray made a ton of films before this and hasn't stopped making them since.  Much like a pandemic, the Great Chicago Fire or the success of Eli Roth, there's just no stopping this shit!
Up next, we return to the Puppet show with the second film in the series.  Hey, it's time to randomly become a bad guy now.  Stay tuned...

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