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The Hell Plaza Oktoberfest

The Hell Plaza Oktoberfest

Adam Jahnke - Main Page

No Man's Land: Rise of Reeker

No Man's Land: Rise of Reeker
2008 (2008) - Lionsgate/Ghost House Underground

Almost exactly one year ago, I reviewed a fun little movie called Reeker as part of the original Hell Plaza Oktoberfest. Evidently that review shot the cult of Reeker into the stratosphere, because writer/director Dave Payne has returned with the prequel/sequel hybrid No Man's Land: The Rise of Reeker. And even if the new movie can't surprise you the same way the first one did, I for one am happy to welcome the stench monster back for Hell Plaza Oktoberfest II.

A brief prologue establishes the back story of the man who would be Reeker. Back in the 70s, he was a serial killer known as the Death Valley Drifter (and played by Michael Robert Brandon). He's caught (or more accurately, surrenders to) a young deputy whose heroism catapults him into the sheriff's job.

The Drifter is executed and the story picks up thirty years later with the sheriff (Robert Pine) on the verge of retirement, handing off the baton to a son (Michael Muhney) he barely knows. Their breakfast is interrupted by the sudden arrival of three crooks on the lam from a casino robbery. A shoot-out ensues and the Reeker arrives to pick off his stranded victims one by one.

I'm going to assume that most of you haven't seen either of the Reeker movies yet, so I won't give away the twisty modus operandi of the monster. Suffice it to say that it's a clever idea that could fuel any number of sequels. Unfortunately, it's also a gimmick that can only really surprise you once. No Man's Land is entertaining but without that element of surprise, it comes across almost like a rehashing of the same terrain without adding much new. Returning fans will enjoy the prequel elements most but there isn't nearly enough of it. Still, the cast is solid, the effects are well done and Payne is a confident director, staging both humor and horror with style. This isn't a bad sequel by any definition. I just wish it broke more new ground.

The new DVD from Ghost House Underground treats No Man's Land with far more respect than Showtime gave to the original Reeker. The movie looks and sounds just fine and Lionsgate has given the disc a fair number of decent extras. The Behind the Scenes featurette is OK but clocking in at just under 12 minutes, doesn't convey a ton of information. There's a storyboard-to-screen comparison which is nice and a quick featurette called What Scares The Cast and Crew? Pretty self-explanatory and not exactly essential viewing. Better is The Production Team, in which the crew introduces themselves and gives a brief explanation of their job. This actually gives you a pretty good idea of how many people it takes to make even a low-budget movie and helps you understand why. Best of all is the commentary track, headed by Dave Payne with contributions from actors, producers and other crew members throughout. Payne is enthusiastic and informative. When others are brought in, he acts like a good radio host, introducing everyone and keeping things moving right along. It's a good track and worth checking out.

The Reeker is an interesting idea for a movie monster and Dave Payne obviously knows how to make the most of a limited budget. No Man's Land is a bit too been-there-done-that to be a really great sequel to Reeker. But on the other hand, not a lot of folks saw that movie in the first place. If I hadn't, maybe I would have thought more of No Man's Land. Regardless, these are fun, fast-paced monster movies, a throwback to the horror flicks I grew up on in the 80s and a refreshing change of pace from the current vogue of J-horror and torture porn. I'd be pleased as punch to welcome the Reeker back for next year's Oktoberfest.

Film Rating: C+
Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B-/B/B-

Adam Jahnke

Adam Jahnke - Main Page
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