MTV's hillbilly horror slasher hits home video...
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One can’t talk about Savage County, the MTV horror film releasing this week on home video, without mentioning the multi-media and interactive experience that accompanied it’s original premiere on television. Part of MTV’s “Demand It” fan contest, people had to vote (100,000 votes had to be reached) to convince MTV to air the gruesome horror film on their networks, along with a variety of other outlets such as Amazon.com. The film, which was originally considered for a series of webisodes, was teased in pieces until its premiere last October, albeit in a slightly censored cut. In addition to the actual voting campaign, online content included a website, Facebook, and Twitter pages for the film, along with individual Twitter pages for the film’s characters, and a faux website for the Savage County Gazette. There is even a set of Ipad/Iphone Apps that feature even more content including character bios, clips, a comic book, wallpapers, and a customizable movie poster. As part of the marketing for the film, they even had artist Vincent Castiglia create an original movie poster painted with his own blood!
The film itself is a typical run-of-the-mill slasher where a bunch of dumb kids do dumb things and wind up on the wrong end of the killer’s knife. There really is nothing overly original about anything in the film, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but most horror fans will likely turn their nose up at Savage County, which takes similar concepts to tried and true classics and does them toned down to a PG-13 level and geared towards the MTV-watching teen crowd. The write-up on the back of the DVD doesn’t do the film any favors either with much of the description seemingly talking about the wrong movie.
First off it refers to the kids as “Patrick and his friends” which makes it seem like Patrick is the main character and that is not at all accurate. While I think the idea was to make Isabel the main heroine of the film, it was really Angie (Ivy Mclemore), the quiet Goth girl who stole the show. The Hardell’s (the inbred redneck killers) don’t have any really distinguishing characteristics or cool personas. The closest is the elder brother/leader Orry, who has a deformed face and who wears a mask that appears to be made of human flesh (Leatherface?). The kids (which basically consist of a rag-tag bunch of stereotypical high schoolers including the jock, the goth, the nerd, the bad boy, etc.) are never “on the run for their lives” in the film as they never really have anyone chasing after them and it isn’t until most of them go back to the Hardell’s house that they are dispatched without any “fight for survival.” The film is also a far cry from anything as violent at Texas Chainsaw Massacre and there is not any content in the film that I can see being compared to Hostel.“Patrick and his friends should never have set foot on the Hardell family property. The stories are true, you see, and the Hardell’s - Willard, Kasper and Orry - are not friendly towards unwelcome guests. And so after a dare gone badly wrong, Patrick and his friends are on the run for their lives, the gruesome trio hot on their trail and out for blood. A slasher in the classic mould, David Harris SAVAGE COUNTY is THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE meets HOSTEL - a bloody thrill ride of brutal kills and the desperate fight for survival.”
With all that being said, I do applaud MTV for trying something different and any way that a network can bring horror back to television is a win in my book. The DVD features an un-cut and unrated version of the film with no special features aside from the trailer. It seems like a missed opportunity that they failed to include any of the cool promotional and marketing content that was created online on the home video release. I think adding any of these features on the DVD would have enticed more fans to check out the film.
Savage County is available now on DVD at fine retailers everywhere.
Review by Michael Klein