Unrated - Cinema of the Extreme

The stalk and slash genre was one that was truly exciting in the early 1980’s. Cinema audiences, who had not had the fortune of seeing classic films by the likes of Mario Bava, shrieked and gasped their way through a score of inventive deaths and laughed at just how stupid the pesky teenagers were to get themselves in these situations. The likes of FRIDAY THE 13th, THE BURNING and MY BLOODY VALENTINE forged the ground rules that took the genre to parody levels when Wes Craven mocked it all and rammed what should have been the final nail in the coffin with SCREAM.

Call me a cynic but I was really wondering whether to drink a 12 pack before sitting down and watching SHORT CUT ROAD. I thought it might do the job and put me at the level required for watching dumb American kids getting hacked in the back and stuffed in a sack. As this film is out on Sub Rosa, a movie house that I have always associated with the inventive transgressions of Eric Stanze, I decided to throw caution to the wind and watch this film sober. By the time it had finished I was regretting this and wished I had downed a bottle of Jack before the credits had rolled.

To say this is a no-brainer would be all too polite. Four couples are out for some end of school fun and head off to a rock concert. We are all too aware that they are no more than cannon fodder for the camera but boy what an annoying bunch this lot are. The first couple have decided to hike to the concert the night before. I think it is fair to say that anybody that has ever been to such an event will appreciate that all roads leading up to it will be a constant stream of traffic be it audience, crew or passed out revellers soaked in piss and vomit. Not in these dark surrounding woods. Our goofy couple stumble around deserted roads talking rubbish and I breathed a sigh of relief when a knife through the throat silenced its first victim. It is not long before his girlfriend finds the one car on the road (you guessed it), which belongs to the killer. The lumberjack shirt and crooked teeth kind of gave him away.

The next day we meet the rest of the victims, happily off to Rock Stock. With the wooden acting and inane comments from this lot I could only assume that Limp Biscuit must be the headlining act. We also get introduced to the most unconvincing police officer I have ever seen. Even in America I doubt there are donut shop doors big enough to allow access to this colossal constable. The couples character development unfolds and shows that they are either involved in kinky sex (an off camera blow job, how daring) or their partner is not putting out at all. This is mundane stuff, I can tell you.

The very strange rock festival, which is more like a funfair with children’s rides sees our clever killer managing to do that needle in a haystack trick and find our heroes car and pour sugar in the petrol tank. One couple go up in my estimation, deciding to stop watching the crap bands and go off for a shag. Being outrageously kinky they stop in the woods where the girl decides it would be fun for a bit of role-playing. Sending her boyfriend off to pick her up as a hitchhiker it is no surprise that on return it is the killer wearing a paper bag on his head.

It is at this point that we realise the gore count on display in SHORT CUT ROAD is as lacking as the sex. The camera either pans away or we get a splash of unconvincing claret. One couple run into the killer who is hideously scarred by a very bad latex effect. The girl is dispatched with a bloodless slash to the gash and the boyfriend exacts his revenge. It has to be said that it takes a rather dumb killer to run straight into a knife blade. Luckily there is no Michael Myers resurrection but there is unfortunately a brother equally out for blood.

The most annoying teen ends up in a house of horrors surrounded by the bodies of his friends. All we need now is an I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER motive for the killing spree. Apparently at the last Rock Stock the two brothers were walking down the road and were knocked over by the kids car. How did they know whom to go after you ask? Well the number plate and bumper sticker were imprinted on their minds after the accident and months of corrective surgery. Even more implausible is the fact that the kids didn’t even realise they had just mowed 2 people down. Oh please press the eject and give me the tape. It is worth sticking around for the end though to witness our portly policeman finding the bodies and jumping around and shrieking like a girl.

With a tag line stating, “the music will rock and the heads will roll”, this is asking to be sued under the trades description act. I have racked my brain to think of one redeeming quality for SHORT CUT ROAD, the atmosphere, the music score (anything God please) but have failed dismally to do so. It would be nice to say the words, “good first effort” to director Marc Selz and his cast of just out of community college actors. Alas though even at a brief 75 minute running time, this dragged unbearably and is one road I certainly won’t be travelling down again.

Pete Woods

Directed by Marc Selz

English Language
USA / 2003 / 75 minutes

Feature-length commentary
"Journey into Perversion" Jess Franco feature (16 minutes)
Sub Rosa trailers

A Sub Rosa Studios DVD Release
NTSC. Stereo 1.85:1



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