A series of reviews and random bits of pop culture ephemera that I'm watching, reading, listening to or whatever.
Thursday, June 18, 2020
Directed by James Polakof
The first time I really felt ripped off when renting movies was in high school and it was this movie that ripped me. Eric Zydel and I rented it for two reasons: 1) Robert Englund is in it and 2) it looks like a slasher. It was not one we had heard of and the art on the box (along with the blurb on back) seemed wrong somehow. But, we rented it and we watched it. Then, halfway through, we ended up taking it off. Slashed Dreams became shorthand for “this movie is not what it seems…and it sucks”.
In 2007, the deception continues. The movie is still not a slasher film, nor is it a horror film. To include it anywhere near the Horror shelves is going to guarantee people getting mad at it, laughing at it and falling asleep during it. Nothing really big happens (plot-wise) until halfway into the movie and then nothing much happens after that. If you were a heady renter and you found this one, you can imagine the steam flying out of you ears as each minute passed and you found you’ve been lied to. To the folks who know (maybe just Eric and me), this is one of the most disreputable films in the Horror canon.
The problem is that it is just not a horror film. Not by a longshot. Not even a little. Mame is more of a horror film than Slashed Dreams or, apparently, Sunburst. So, after acknowledging the disappointment, is the film worth watching in whatever genre it actually is a part of?
The film is about a couple leaving their big city college campus and going to the wilderness to find a friend who dropped out. The woman, Jenny, dumps her boyfriend before leaving as he thinks their drop-out friend was just a lazy hippy who didn’t want any responsibility. Luckily, she hooks up with the guy, Robert, and heads out into the woods. Everything seems wonderful at first. They find a cabin that they stay in. They discover the beauty of nature and that they like skinny dipping with each other.
Then, two rednecks show up. At first they just heckle the couple. Then, they beat Robert and rape Jenny. The couple’s friend, Michael (Robert Englund), shows up and tries to help them. Robert has a muddy fight with the two rednecks who run away. Jenny reads a poem about the sun and pain, which begins to help her through her grief.
Does anything in there sound horror-like? The two rednecks are in the film for less than ten minutes. The majority of the film is about two city folks learning that the “virgin’ wilderness has its problems, too. When they finally meet Michael, he proves tremendously unhelpful. In fact, he spends a lot of his time talking about tea. He is given a long scene where he talks to Jenny and tries to convince her to carry on. But, it’s never really convincing. In fact, Jenny doesn’t seem ready to move on until she reads that poem. It might have worked better if they had just gone to the woods to live without trying to visit their friend. (When they make it to the woods, they don’t seem to be in a hurry to find Michael.)
Is it a loss of innocence kind of film? Possibly. Is it a random bunch of footage thrown together and called a film? Possibly. The credits read “Created by James Polakof. Screenplay by James Keach. From an Original Screenplay by David Pritchard.” That looks like a lot of work was put into this film. (Keach and Pritchard play the rednecks.) The first thing I thought was that this film must have meant something to someone. All those people combining their ideas must mean something. But, at the same time, I can’t help but thinks of James Keach in Evil Town. Maybe Slashed Dreams is really just an unfinished mess of a film that everyone had a crack at. Trying to finish it but not getting there.
But then, there are all the songs to take into consideration. There are about six of them that play at poignant parts in the film. They are sung by a woman who reminded me of Judy Collins and reminded me that I find that sort of voice to be terribly depressing. The songs speak what the characters are thinking or provide spiritual direction to Jenny and Robert. (Here’s hoping they can hear the singing.) Are they all part of the grand plan or were they added when the film didn’t really seem to cohere? I like to think it’s the former. It seems like a lot of work to have someone write a series of plot-specific songs rather than dubbing in a line here or there.
In the end, the more I talk, the less this film fits into the framework of this website. It’s not trash. It’s just a slow story about two people leaving the city and going to live in the woods. So, this could be the most redundant review you’ve ever read. As a wanna-be horror film, it’s boring as all get out. As a movie standing on its own, it’s almost very interesting. But, it’s too slow, too meandering, too over-bearing and too unfinished. It has its fine points but it’s nothing I would run to find.
Last thing: Is there a possibility that the rednecks (and possibly Michael) aren’t real? Could the rednecks represent fears and anger that they have stored up? Things that they need to work through and conquer in order to live in the woods. Could Michael represent some sort of ideal they are shooting for? The first time the couple skinny dip and see each other nude is the first time the rednecks appear. Guilt at dumping the old boyfriend? Fear of becoming intimate? Who knows? The next time the rednecks arrive is after they’ve made love. Symbolic? Could it stand for the boyfriend? Could it stand for accepting the fact that there is bad everywhere and it must be dealt with? The third and final time is when Robert fights them off. At the end of that, he is laughing at how pointless the anger and rage was. Jenny is at the point where she is about to fully embrace the woods. And, in an odd moment, Michael announces than the rednecks will not come back. Why? I don’t know but I believe him.
In the end, the film would become really interesting if the rednecks and Michael were all in the heads of Jenny and Robert. I think.
AUDIO AND VIDEO
Old, old VHS. I love the look. The songs come through beautifully.
A coupon for 10% off the soundtrack.
Disliking Slashed Dreams for what the distributors did to sell it is understood but pointless. Especially when there are legitimate things in this film to make you dislike it. Is it boring? A bit. Is it interesting? A bit. Is it worth watching? I don’t know. There is a part of me that wants to watch it again and another part that just wants me to let it ride. How about this? The film is worth watching, but only as long as you haven’t seen Ogroff.