Black Crab: This SF/War film is no classic but is far better than what some critics say. Sweden is divided by a savage civil war, civilians are targeted. No explanation is given for the cause of the conflict. The war continues during a bleak winter, buildings are largely destroyed yet improbably still standing. Refugees are everywhere. So reminiscent of what's happening in Ukraine right now. Noomi Rapace is a conscripted soldier chosen for a special mission, she must join a group skating across ice behind enemy lines to deliver a package to an isolated facility. She constantly thinks of her missing daughter, snatched earlier in the war. Even before the mission begins she has a life and death struggle with feral bandits, intent on robbing her vehicle. The collapse of civilization is vividly captured. The terror of crossing the ice, thin at times, the riskk of falling through, coming across frozen bodies seemingly in their hundreds under the ice. A savage film made even more desolate by the realisation that anyone might be an enemy no matter how innocent they look. Helicopter gunships like birds of prey overhead. A good near future thriller with a few flaws and twists in its tail. Directed and Co-Written by Adam Berg. On Netflix. 7/10.
For some reason, old Hollywood actors often show up in slashers. Jackie Coogan, whose career stretched from silent films to playing Uncle Fester on The Addams Family to, well, The Prey appears in this, his last film. Coogan also was the reason for the California Child Actors Bill, the first known legal protection for the earnings of child performers, which is better known as the Coogan Act.The Prey didn't play theaters until nearly four years after it was made. It was created by the husband and wife team of Edwin and Summer Brown, who had previously worked on the video nasty Human Experiments. This was their first non-adult movie.Back in the late 1940's, a fire raged through the Rocky Mountains and wiped out a family of gypsies that all lived in a cave. Of course, one of them survived.It all starts with two old people getting killed as they cook around a campfire. Then, the film alternates between an increasingly intense pace and long stretches of nature footage that was supposed to prove the difference between killer and his prey, but also padded the film so it had a decent run time.Let's meet our teen couples. There's Nancy and Joel, played by Debbie Thureson and Steve Bond, who we all know better as Travis Abilene from Picasso Trigger. Here's Bobbie and Skip, played by Lori Lethin from Bloody Birthday and Robert Waid from Summer Camp. Finally, we have Greg and Gail, who are played by Philip Wenckus in his lone acting role and Gayle Gannes from Human Experiments.They're helped on their camping trip by hunky ranger Mark O'Brien (Jackson Bostick, Shazam! himself!) and crusty older ranger Lester Tole (Coogan). Gail's convinced before too long that someone is watching them and before you can say Jason Vorhees, she's dead and so is Greg.That burned up gypsy boy goes after everyone with a real vengeance, including a scene where he leaves Gail and Greg's bodies for the vultures, a moment that's poignantly intercut with the group's first meeting.I love the ending of this film, where it feels like Ranger Mark has taken out the clawed and disfigured killing machine, only to have his neck snapped as if it were nothing. Then, the killer slowly approaches Nancy and caresses her hair.After some nature footage - get ready for so much nature footage - we move several months into the future, where we see the cave where the killer's family died in the fire and hear the cries of a baby. Now that's dark.The monster in this is played by Carel Struycken who would go on to play not just Lurch in the modern Addams Family movies, but also the Giant in Twin Peaks.Seeing as how this was shot around the same time as Friday the 13th, it may have been seen as imitator when originally released, but it totally stands on its own. After all, what movie has a better tagline \"It's not human and it's got an axe!\"
N.B. This review is of the 80 minute American theatrical cut.Three young couples - Greg (Philip Wenckus) and Gail (Gayle Gannes), Skip (Robert Wald) and Bobbie (Lori Lethin), and Joel (Steve Bond) and Nancy (Debbie Thureson) - head into the hills for a camping weekend. Before you can say \"Ki ki ki, ma ma ma\", they're being offed by a deformed maniac (Carel Struycken) with virtually no backstory (at least in the version that I saw).Hey, it's '80s slasher time again, which in this case means a dearth of originality, from the bare bones plot, to the cookie cutter characters, to the uninspired music, to the predictable direction (killer POV shots aplenty). That said, this one does have something rather special up its sleeve: it also serves as a wildlife documentary, depicting the many varieties of fauna indigenous to the San Jacinto Mountains in Riverside County, California. While the film's three young couples wait to be sliced and diced by the lunatic roaming the area, we're treated to footage of **deep breath** a millipede, a bear, a frog, a raccoon, a centipede, a woodpecker, a snake (eating a mouse), an eagle, a salamander, a tarantula, an owl, termites, and ants, with shots of a deer, a lizard, birds of prey and butterflies intercut with the slaughter. Great work, wildlife photographer Gary Gero!As for the those staple slasher ingredients, nudity and violence, here's a quick rundown of what you can expect from The Prey when not admiring fowl and beast...Nudity: brief toplessness from Gayle Gannes, side boob from the lovely Debbie Thureson while she sunbathes, and nada from Lori Lethin. A rather poor show overall.Violence (gore courtesy of John Carl Buechler): a neck stump spurting blood, suffocation by sleeping bag, a bloody throat gouging, a head twisted backwards, a body plummeting down a cliff, death by booby trap (victim thrown against a tree, messing up the face and twisting a leg), and a crushed neck. Fun when it happens.4.5/10, rounded up to 5 for the utterly pointless but strangely enjoyable musical interlude, park ranger Mark O'Brien (Jackson Bostwick) playing a tune on his banjo for no other reason than to show that Bostwick can play the banjo. 781b155fdc