Sunday 26 October 2008

Toronto After Dark 2008 - "Trailer Park Of Terror"

Steven Goldmann's "Trailer Park Of Terror" (released on DVD just days after our screening) was a good complement as the second movie of Zombie Day at this year's Toronto After Dark. The zombies in the audience stayed for a second helping of blood and guts, the film provided them what they needed and, like the previous film "Kevin Tenney's Brain Dead", my opinion of it slowly changed as the film progressed. Unfortunately in this case, instead of warming to it, I slowly became less and less enamoured of it.

Based on a series of comics, the film begins with a bit of back story about the trailer park and Norma - a pretty blonde looking to get away from the park and its residents. Things go terribly wrong for her and with a suggestion by a mysterious roadside stranger, she returns to seek vengeance on the entire trailer park while taking her own life too. Cut to years later when a bus load of problem teenagers get stranded during a storm and seek shelter at the park with their pastor. The park is mostly abandoned, but they encounter a sexy, older woman who puts them all up for the night. Her name? Norma. There seems to be something amiss about this older and wiser Norma and when the first kill comes we see why that is - she's a zombie underneath.

These early scenes are actually quite well done and settle the audience in for what might be a fun ride. Nothing overly original, but it seemed to be a solid environment for an entertaining genre workout. The acting is far superior than what you might expect and Nichole Hiltz (as Norma) is exceptionally strong. The effects appear to be professionally done and look great, the teenage fodder is relatively interesting and Norma looks to be an amusing villain. But it all starts to turn in a different direction...It does this in two different ways:

1) A flashback scene to Norma and her Mom shows a nasty side to the old trailer park. The local Sheriff has been using her Mom for sexual favours and the scene we get ends in what can only be described as a very distasteful way. Yeah, I know...I'm watching a zombie movie where a boatload of people are going to die and get eaten - what did I expect? It's just that this scene is completely removed from the silly aspects of the zombies and placed directly into the real world. It's also a harbinger of things to come - several of the later death scenes involve torturing the victims a bit before their demise. Purely for the enjoyment of the zombies doing it. It killed the fun aspect of the movie for me.

2) The sense of humour Norma brought to the film as she met her new guests seems to evaporate as they shift towards a different type of comedy. Many of the same people Norma sought vengeance upon have also become zombies and remain in the park as well (Norma seems to be the boss of the place). However, they've retained their old ugly trailer-park-trash stereotypical personalities and that's where the film starts milking most of its humour. It gets tired pretty quick.

I know others will enjoy the film better in the latter stages where the "kills" become more graphic and creative, but by then all of the humour and fun had been sucked away for me.

Staying in the zombie realm was the opening short entitled "The Laundromat" that depicts a couple's attempt to hide out from the rampaging zombies out in the streets. He's been bitten already, so she tries to save him and also figure out how to save herself from the hordes. Solid entry and points for creative use of an iron.

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