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Body Shop (2002)

Unrated | | Horror, Mystery
Two years after a women is killed in a fatal car crash, the trio of teenagers responsible for her death are suddenly being murdered - one by one. Each of them faces a horrible, bizarre ... See full summary »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Phillip Newman ...
Art Gary
...
Sheriff Taggart
...
Market Owner
L.P. Brown III ...
Billy Ray
...
Amy
...
Hailey
Colby Newman ...
Hank
Sabina Newman Stidham ...
Deputy Dagney
Sherry Holmes ...
Lillian Reardon (as Shelley Holmes)
Taylor Martin Durley ...
Jeanna
...
Eugene - Irrate Customer
Linda Kelly ...
Mary Sue Gary
Larry Pelfrey ...
Jerry
Tracey Wofferd ...
Sally Gary
Gary Bilyeu ...
Little Bilyeu, PI
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Storyline

Two years after a women is killed in a fatal car crash, the trio of teenagers responsible for her death are suddenly being murdered - one by one. Each of them faces a horrible, bizarre death apparently devised by the dead woman's husband, a deranged two truck driver. Written by <videovamp@cookeville.com>

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Horror | Mystery

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Unrated
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Dangerous Highway  »

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1.85 : 1
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Connections

References City of the Living Dead (1980) See more »

Soundtracks

Steel of the Night
Performed by Mike Hendrick
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User Reviews

Cornpone throwback: gore & fast cars.
8 March 2010 | by (New York, New York) – See all my reviews

This obscure film, available for a pro rata 50 cents in one of those "6 Horror Films on 2 DVDs" bargain basement offerings on amazon.com, is a combination of worn-out genres, aimed at the completists audience of me and about 3 other fans out there. Its novelty is the filmmakers' urge to revive not the dead (zombies) but rather dead genres.

I loved going to drive-ins in the '70s; I even bought a Dodge Challenger in 1972 and used to watch VANISHING POINT over and over at Cleveland/Akron/Canton area drive-in bookings of that enduring hit. While Fox was raking in the cash with such car chase epics, and Hal Needham/Burt Reynolds were hugely successful in the genre, Earl Owensby and more famously H.B. Halicki were leading indie purveyors of same, and for a while good ole boy action films rivaled reissues of Rene Bond starrers from Harry Novak for outdoor cinema popularity.

Apparently in the 2000s two thick-twang regional would-be filmmakers Newman & Brown III, naturally insisting on casting themselves in the starring roles despite no evidence of acting ability or screen presence, teamed up with B-movie vets from the horror/sci-fi field, Farmer & Piper, to produce this anomaly. It looks like a 35mm shoot, way out of place released to accompany the usually homemade shot-on-video horror crap that makes up these poverty row 6-packs.

What amazed me, a couple of reels into this mind-numbing 106-minute opus (roughly 30 minutes overweight), is that circa 2002 someone would bring back the cornball Southern-fried fast cars/good ole boys genre, add extreme gore and maniac in helmet disguise format of a 30 year old Robert Ginty movie, throw in a dollop of half-hearted, old-fashioned religiosity, and expect anyone to be interested. It's no wonder that like so many thousands of its indie peers, it failed to attract any meaningful distribution.

Writer/producer Phillip Newman top-lines as the glum hero, who runs a body shop and has his wife killed & daughter left in a coma when 3 thrill seeking youngsters in a mint vintage Chevelle (whose real-life owner gets a big end credit, of course) run him off the road. Laborious storyline picks up 2 years later as someone is killing and/or torturing the trio belatedly in revenge, and dressing up with a welder's protective helmet on, torturing and killing other folks for the fun of it, too. Plot twist on the killer's true identity is poorly executed so the film generates zero suspense.

To give this junker borderline legitimacy, two B-movie heart-throbs are given guest roles, aimed at suckering in their fans (a ploy as old as the days when has-beens of once-top-stature like Ray Milland and James Mason were thrown in the most ludicrous projects, for a quickie one or two day fee, making for instant international sales potential). William Smith is professional, as always, as the slow-witted local sheriff -a nothing role once played (over & over & over) by Bo Hopkins. I like seeing Bill in sympathetic casting -my favorite all-time WS movie is the classic RUNAWAY, RUNAWAY, his most positive character ever, but he has nothing to chew on here. Robert Z'Dar, a cult actor if there ever was one (though lacking the acting chops of similarly adored predecessors like John Davis Chandler or Timothy Carey), is cast as a local store owner who is attacked by the young trio at the beginning of the film. In a distasteful scene, reminding me of the way Rondo Hatton used to be humiliated in '40s movies making fun of his physical handicaps, Z'Dar keeps whining about how horrible he has been made to look by the thugs. He's looked exactly like this for maybe 70 films before making this one, so it's embarrassing to have him reading lines purporting to explain away his oddly long jawed-face as being maimed here.

Director Farmer made some videos for New Jersey's soft porn outfit Seduction Cinema around this time, so it's no surprise that that label's early starlet Tina Krause is on hand to take an endless, full monty shower, to appease the t&a fans. Later the killer spray paints her fully frontally with bright blue lacquer; I kept expecting the MST3K crew to pop in with shouts of "Better get Maaco!". Maybe this ludicrous scene was based on the asphyxiation premise of Shirley Eaton's demise in GOLDFINGER, but I doubt it.

A couple of other beauties, including Rachael Robbins, also get nekkid, but this film is more about torturing, gore schtick and sheer nuttiness, as when the killer whips out a bazooka to blow up the youngsters' car. A melodramatic subplot involving the fate of Newman's sleeping-beauty daughter is preposterous, with her waking up, on cue, just in time for a bloody and nonsensical climax scene.

Newman joins the ranks of many, many ego-maniacal would-be filmmakers who insist on playing their own roles, sometimes effectively (Stallone and Tom Laughlin's breakthroughs as ROCKY and BILLY JACK come to mind) but usually with horrendous results, as in the aforementioned Earl Owensby, who had a brush with greatness when his soon-to-fail North Carolina studio complex was rented by Gale Anne Hurd and James Cameron to film THE ABYSS. (Ironically, Owensby just previous to working with Gale & Jim had made a clutch of flop 3-D features, but of course it was Cameron 25 years later who has finally made 3-D a mainstream, nay inevitable, part of the film-making toolkit.)

Second lead L.P. Brown III threw me for a loop -he looks uncannily like a Eurotrash porn star Mircha Carven (oversize retro mustache to boot), who is still popular in such DVD revived junkers as THE EXHIBITIONIST opposite Lili Carati and as the good guy in SS EXPERIMENT LOVE CAMP. Brown's acting is terrible, but at least the out-of-left-field Carven look kept me awake racking my brains to remember who his doppelganger was.


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