Staunton Hill

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Do I dare writing “Like father, like son”? You see, “Staunton Hill” is directed by Cameron Romero, son of George A. Romero — the latter’s classic “Night of the Living Dead” is actually mentioned early on in this movie.

I can’t say I’ve read any nice reviews of “Staunton Hill”. On the contrary, I’ve mainly encountered negative reviews of the movie, and I must add I never thought this movie would be released over here in Sweden, at least not by a major distributor like Universal.

I had expected an extreme low-budget production made in the simplest possible and cheapest way. That’s the impression I got from other reviews. Therefore I was positively surprised when the movie turned out to have pretty good cinematography (it’s shot on Super 16, which of course is a plus) and most of all acting that’s a cut above the standard of this type of movies.

The movie takes place in 1969 — which I never would have figured out if I didn’t know it — and a handful of so-called young adults are hitch-hiking through the American backwoods. And we all know the American backwoods is a place to keep away from. The gang is on their way to Washington D.C., but they end up at Staunton Hill, a farm in the middle of nowhere, and those of you who bet your money on that they’ll leave Staunton Hill alive and in one piece, well, you’ll lose your money.

The owner of the farm — a ramshackle house that looks straight out of “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” — is the hideously fat Louise Staunton, who’s played by Kathy Lamkin who was the Tea Lady in the remake of, yes, “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” and its sequel. This lady gives the impression of being nice and helpful, and the lost youngsters will soon be on their way out of there. But we know better. Especially since we’ve met Staunton’s family and others living nearby. They aren’t exactly people you bring home and proudly present to your parents.

…Least of all Buddy (B.J. Hendricks), who’s this movie’s counterpart of Leatherface.

You see, on this farm they make a living selling human organs. Organs you have inside your body, not the instrument you play in church, you moron! They capture unsuspecting passers-by and then they let Buddy practice his not so advanced surgical skills.

Ah! The Crazy Family! One of my favorite genres! It’s really hard to fail, making a movie about a Crazy Family. Or?

The big problem with “Staunton Hill” is that it takes about fifty minutes before it all gets going, before the terror begins. What we get first is some kind of countryside drama which gets more and more draggy. When the horror scenario finally kicks in, you’re quite bored. Sure, it’s sometimes nasty as hell, but not very effective. Blood spurts and people are tortured to death, but thee’s never any horror atmosphere. And I really don’t care at all about these people.

Okay, I shouldn’t claim that I usually care about the characters in gory horror movies, but it really shouldn’t be as boring as this movie is.

On the other hand… Perhaps it is just that so that I’ve become horribly jaded.

That’s quite possible. But I have to agree with the other critics. “Staunton Hill” isn’t very good — but the production is slick and competent.

     

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