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Caught a screening of this one at the Rue Morgue Festival of Fear in
August '09, introduced by co-writer/co-producer/star Bertie Higgins.
While it certainly wasn't the best film that I saw at the festival, it
was still a gritty, gruesome and - at times - very tense little
The plot centers on two suburbanite wannabe bikers and their wives taking part in a "Poker Run" - a high stakes poker game taking place through numerous stops across the American south. But when the crew meets up with a dark, charismatic biker and his crusty partner, they stray from the beaten path and it before long everything goes straight to Hell. The women are kidnapped, and our heroes are forced into a brutal game of cat and mouse.
It's nothing that we haven't seen before...think Saw meets Last House on the Left by way of Easy Rider, essentially. Still, once the ball gets rolling there are some super intense scenes and plenty of the red stuff (if that's what you're into).
One of the films flaws lies in the cast. Certain cast members are pretty dull...our 2 protagonists especially. That said, Robert Thorne gives us an unpredictable, strangely magnetic villain and his partner (who's name escapes me entirely) is wonderfully insane and has moments of being creepy as hell.
My only other real gripe with the film was the pacing near the first. Things seemed to take forever to get started, but once things hit the fan it managed a pretty breakneck pace until the end. I'll go easy on this particular flaw though: in his introduction to the film, Higgins explained that we weren't quite watching the final cut.
Assuming they get the pacing issue sorted out, this one's a pretty tight and gritty thriller. Nothing earth shattering and it doesn't bring much new to the table, but if you're into this kind of flick you'll find a lot to like in Poker Run.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This will contain some spoilers...
Two city dwelling lawyers want to live out some adventure in their lives, so they decide they want to buy motorcycles to attend this poker run event with their wives. They happen upon two weirdos who just happen to be selling 2 bikes on the cheap. The two weirdos are just as they seem- weird. They kidnap the guys' wives and lead the men on a chase, making them follow clues along the way to their women.
The idea is decent, but stupid characters and a dumb plot line ruin any good that could come out of this.
The two main characters aren't all that likable, and they're pretty bland. You just don't know anything about them outside of their broad stereotypical traits. The younger guy is more clean cut with short hair, the older attorney has longer hair and is a bit more on the wild side as far as looks go. Throughout the whole ordeal, we hardly care what happens to either of them or either of their wives.
The two villains are so over the top that no one with any brain cells in their head would ever buy anything from them, let alone $10, 000 motorcycles, and they sure as heck wouldn't follow these guys into the desert for a trip together. That's what ruins the script, the characters keep doing stuff that makes no sense. A hallmark of bad horror movies, of course, but better writing would have allowed us to skip this annoying hallmark and get on with a decent storyline.
There are some inventive death scenes here, if you're into that sort of thing, but ultimately they serve no purpose, as most of the characters are just so over the top that you can't take any of them seriously. A deranged family on vacation in cahoots with the villains, everyone along this route seem to be in the pockets of these two guys- but why? Money? Can they really be making that much money by selling the same bikes over and over? The plot holes are, of course, so big that it's hard to suspend disbelief for even a second.
There are some tense moments, and you get a sense of the movie SAW and a bit of Wolfcreek. It's shot well for the most part, but the audio is, from the version I watched, sub-par, at best. The acting is decent for what it is- the problem comes in with the dialog and the way some of the characters act. Again, it's just too over the top, so you end up laughing at how absurd it is when I guess you're supposed to be scared.
I'd skip this completely. It's not a terrible movie, but it's too far from good to even waste the 90 mins. The synopsis sounded interesting, but the execution falls completely flat.
This "movie" has it all. Bad acting, direction, writing, and lighting. How this was ever approved is beyond me. I admit that I do not know a lot about Hollywood but it seems that the people that made this movie know even less than I do about making films! The only reason that I continued to watch this film is normally I am a fan of the "nice person/people" that are put in a bad situation by a psycho, i.e. "Unlawful Entry" or "Cape Fear". I guess that I really should not have expected much from a low budget film such as this but it really aggravates me to know that I cannot unsee this movie. The only redeeming quality I can think of is it only lasts 90min.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Take-charge Allen Shaw (a sturdy and likable performance by J.D. Rudometkin) and his more passive best friend Robert Cohen (a solid turn by Bertie Higgins) are a couple of lawyers who ride their motorcycles on the weekends. Allen and Robert find themselves neck deep in serious peril when they run afoul of vicious, but cunning psycho biker Ray (a deliciously wicked and credible portrayal by Robert Thorne) and Ray's totally unhinged drawling hick partner Billy "Bones" Eady (gleefully overplayed with eye-rolling hammy panache by Jay Wisell), who have abducted Allen and Robert's wives and force the pair to go through hell in order to get their spouses back. Director Julian Higgins, who also co-wrote the engrossing script with Larry Madill, relates the gripping story at a quick pace, builds a good amount of tension, puts a hopped-up kinetic style to genuinely exciting use, and delivers a handy helping of in-your-face gory'n'graphic violence and unflinching savagery (grisly highlights include one guy having both his hands hacked off with a hatchet and an especially juicy decapitation). Stunning brunette Jasmine Waltz burns up the screen as the foxy and enticing Cheri while Debra Hopkins bitches it up nicely as the snippy Susan. Thorne and Wisell make for entertainingly foul, nasty, and depraved villains. The last third provides plenty of riveting suspense and offers up a double of truly surprising downbeat twists. Ben Watkins' crisp cinematography gives the picture a cool slick look. The thrashing rock score likewise totally smokes. A fun flick.
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