Eat Or Die
Welcome to day four of my Day O’Horror series! Today is twice as nice because I watched not one, but TWO horror flicks. Last night I watched Curse of Chucky and followed it up with the brand spanking new Cult of Chucky. I’ll get to that chewy morsel of terror in a moment, but first I’m going to cover a cult classic that I saw on the big screen way back in 1999.
At the time I was dating the lady that would become my wife. We were bored one evening and decided to see what was playing at the movies. Wing Commander was one of the choices, so deciding to view Ravenous was a no-brainer. My future wife had her doubts, but considering the fact that I watched She’s All That with her and would happily be watching 10 Things I Hate About You in the very near future, she let me have one movie.
Guy Pearce and Robert Carlyle were the stars of the film. I didn’t know anything about Pearce (The Count of Monte Cristo, The Time Machine, Iron Man 3) at the time, and barely remembered that Carlyle had been in The Full Monty and Trainspotting. The rest of the cast included prolific character actor Jeffrey Jones (Ferris Beuller’s Day Off, Beetlejuice, Sleepy Hollow, The Devil’s Advocate), David Arquette (Scream, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Eight-Legged Freaks, Never Been Kissed), the always underused Neal McDonough (Arrow, Angels In The Outfield, Tin Man, Timeline, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), and a number of other solid cast members.
The film opens with Pearce’s character, 2nd Lieutenant John Boyd, receiving a promotion to captain due to his “brave” work in the Mexican-American War. His promotion is fruitless, though, because the general is aware that Boyd played dead while the rest of his men were slaughtered and then took the Mexican leaders in a stroke of luck when all of the bodies were brought to the Mexican headquarters.
As punishment, Boyd is sent to Fort Spencer, an outpost in the Sierra Nevadas. Colonel Hart (Jones) heads up the fort with Major Knox (Stephen Spinella) as second in command. Also at the fort are Private Reich (McDonough), Private Cleaves (Arquette), Private Toffler (Jeremy Davies), and two Native American siblings, George (Joseph Running Fox) and Martha (Sheila Tousey).
The area is desolate and according to the colonel, rarely has visitors in the winter. The outpost gets a very strange visitor one evening whenever Colqhoun (Carlyle) appears. He claims to have been starving for three months. When the group doesn’t believe him, he breaks down and tells them how the small group that he was traveling with became lost in the woods due to the misdirection of a Colonel Ives. As a result, they hide in a cave for shelter and quickly run out of food. They resort to eating the oxen and even Colqhoun’s dog. When those resources run dry, they eat one of the members of their group when he dies from starvation. Soon enough, Ives begins murdering members of the party. Soon it is just Ives, Colqhoun, and Mrs. MacCready. Colqhoun abandons them and runs for help, ending up at the garrison.
When George hears this story, he tells the others about the Wendigo, a man who eats the flesh of other men in order to gain their strength. Earlier in the film it is revealed that Boyd drank the blood of his dead soldiers (but not intentionally) as it trickled down to his mouth on the bottom of the pile of bodies.
A rescue party forms up. Colqhoun leads them up to the cave where Ives was supposedly hiding out. Reich realizes that the whole situation is a trap, but it’s too late. Colqhoun kills everyone in the party except for Boyd, who jumps off of a cliff to escape. Boyd ends up in a deep hole with the body of Reich, and after a long period he begins to eat Reich in order to build his strength back up.
He returns to Fort Spencer and tells the few remaining members of the outpost about what happened. Cleaves, Knox, and Martha are all that is left with Boyd until a temporary colonel is assigned. That colonel is Ives (who is actually Colqhoun). Ives tries to convince Boyd to join him as a cannibal, but Boyd refuses until he’s mortally wounded by Ives and forced to either eat human flesh or die. An old acquaintance reappears, Knox and Cleaves are murdered, Martha is sent to get General Slouson (John Spencer) and a battle ensues between Boyd and Ives. I won’t spoil the ending for you.
I really love this movie. Many call it a dark comedy/horror film, but I see it more as a western horror film. The cannibalism story is loosely derived from the true stories of the Donner Party and a man named Alfred Packer. The acting is superb. The music is excellently offbeat, and the story works for what it is. I don’t get to watch this film very often, but every time I revisit it, I appreciate something new about it. I highly recommend this film if you’ve never watched it before. It gives you a peek at Pearce and Carlyle just before their stars really take off.
Round 2: Cult of Chucky
I won’t spend too much time on the plot of this film since my review of Ravenous ran long and because this film is brand new, but here’s a brief rundown of what happens.
Mild spoilers below!
Cult of Chucky picks up a little while after the events in Curse of Chucky. Nica (Fiona Dourif) has been placed in a mental institution after being found (wrongly) guilty of murdering her family. There she befriends Multiple Malcolm (Adam Hurtig) in her therapy group. He suffers from a multiple personality disorder. She’s also friends with Madeleine (Elisabeth Rosen), a woman who murdered her own child, and protects her from the snipes of Claire (Grace Lynn Kung). The group is guided by Dr. Foley (Michael Therriault), who makes sexual advances toward Nica.
Soon enough, a Good Guy doll, purchased by Dr. Foley, is introduced to the group and Madeleine immediately takes him as her “baby.” Another doll is given to Nica by her deceased niece’s former guardian, Tiffany Valentine (Jennifer Tilly). Yet another doll is shipped to Dr. Foley by an unknown person giving us a grand total of three Good Guy dolls.
Soon enough, bodies start piling up. Patients and staff are found choked to death by doll hands, drilled by power drills, killed with broken glass, etc. This is done with one Chucky wisecrack after another. Nica tries to convince Dr. Foley that Chucky is murdering everyone and an old enemy of Chucky arrives late in the film to help. That person is Andy Barclay (Alex Vincent), the young boy that Chucky attempted to possess in the first three films. He has his own plan to kill Chucky. If you’ve ever seen Curse of Chucky, you know that Andy shows up in an after credits scene (but not the Netflix version, where that scene is edited out).
Also waiting in the wings is Tiffany (Tilly), Chucky’s old flame. She’s ready to rejoin her lover for new murderous adventures.
I really enjoyed Curse of Chucky and whenever I found out that Cult was going to be a direct sequel to that film, I was very excited. Unfortunately, Cult meanders back toward the comedy that overtook many of the sequels. While I enjoyed the humor in those films, it wore on my nerves a bit. Curse was a more straightforward horror/suspense film. I missed that in this latest film. Also, a new gimmick is added to Chucky’s arsenal, and it feels a tad forced. That’s saying a lot about a franchise based around a possessed doll.
The cast was excellent despite a disappointing story. Brad Dourif can probably voice Chucky in his sleep now, having performed as the Good Guy for seven films. Dourif’s daughter, Fiona, reprised her role from the previous film and does a solid job. The rest of the cast is dependable and Jennifer Tilly is wonderfully psychotic.
I do recommend seeing the film, but if you can, view it on Blu-ray or DVD. The Netflix version once again edits out a post-credits clip. You can google who else returns in that clip. I won’t spoil it here.
As always, thanks for watching. I hope that you’re ready for tomorrow night’s film…..it’s oversized and angry!