Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Dark Heritage

Welcome back, Sporefans. Today we have another exciting review in store for you. This week we'll be taking a look at the movie "Dark Heritage". This 1989 stinker comes all the way from Louisiana and let me tell you, there's no shortage of stink here. To start off, after I popped this movie into my DVD player I was treated to the sight of a pop-up screen before the main title which informed me that I was about to watch a movie entitled "DRAK Heritage". Confused, I looked at the box for the DVD and then back at the screen. Sure enough, the box said "Dark Heritage" and the screen displayed "Drak Heritage". A moment later, the chapter menu appeared and the title was corrected, but I knew that this was the sign of a great movie review.

Drak Heritage.

This movie is full of conflict, and what I mean to say by that is that this movie is conflicted. In fact, the title screen is the least conflicted part of this movie. There are several conflicts going on in this movie, such as Man vs. Authority, Man vs. Monsters and Man vs. his own repressed homosexual urges. Lots and lots of repressed homosexual urges.

After the introductory murders of a couple of bit players, the movie attempts to introduce Clint, who is a reporter sent to investigate the gruesome killings. Clint's employer, a creepy newspaper editor in a bad 70's suit and sunglasses has Clint pick up two guys who also work at the newspaper and drive out to an old mansion that local legends say are connected to the killings. Clint and the guys are ordered to take some time out there at the mansion and "see what happens". I'd like to provide names for these characters, but the sound quality was so bad I could hardly understand what was going on. For the sake of clarification, lets just call them "big gay guy" and "little gay guy with a mustache".

So the three amigos set off in a car older than God and drive out to the mansion. On the way, they have themselves a conversation about what they might encounter out in the spooky house. All the talk of the recent creepy events prompts little gay guy with a mustache to pull a magnum out of his pants.

The gun kind, not the condom kind.

We are thus supplied with our first phallic image of the movie, and there are a great many more to come. After the three amigos set up their video camera to "catch the exploits", Clint and the big gay guy take a nap (separately) while mustachio man watches them sleep. Eventually mustache man gets sleepy, and he wakes up the big gay guy to ask him to take over guard duty. Mustache guy tries to convince the big guy to "take his gun", but the big guy insists that the tiny little switchblade (phallic image # 2) he has in his pocket is enough protection. After a brief lover's quarrel, the big guy takes the gun, proving that he is the woman of this relationship.

Is this old man Dansen, or that muppet Waldorf? I can't tell.

Clint wakes up to find the dynamic duo missing during a fierce lightning storm. When it becomes apparent that they aren't off spending some "quality time" together, Clint decides to go back home with the video tape of the night's events.

Cut to Clint in a meeting with his creepy newspaper editor/father figure who tells Clint to forget the whole thing and take 3 weeks off with pay. What a nice man, I wonder if he has some ulterior motives.

After that, Clint decides to watch the videotape in the privacy of his own home. We are treated to a scene with Clint rewinding and re-watching the tape over and over as the big gay guy is knocked down and dragged off camera by some unseen force. It should be noted that only one of Clint's hands are visible during this entire scene.

Then Clint decides to go hang out a the local library. While reading a book about "this old house" (now kind of known to the viewers as the Dansen place), a couple of guys walk over and one of them proceeds to stand close behind Clint while reading over his shoulder in a most inapropriate way. After a brief argument, the two guys introduce themselves as paranormal investigators. Again, there's one with a beard and one with a polo shirt.

How about using a microphone other than the one attached to the camera, guys? Seriously, there's almost no understandable dialogue in the whole movie!

After discussing all the rumors and details of the old Dansen place, Clint and the new dynamic duo decide that the only logical thing to do... is completely ignore the house that they've been studying and investigate the campsite where the murders at the beginning of the movie took place. With flawless logic guiding them, the new super-friends hunt about the campgrounds. They find some fascinating clues, among them: a small pile of dirt with a small impression in the middle of it, and abandoned camper, and some rocks and sticks and other such crap that no one wanted.

This is the first time the movie reveals one of its primary means of plot development. Sometimes a character will suddenly pull a vital piece of information out from between their buttocks, for no apparent reason. This is usually reserved for important information that would have a major impact on the plot, but the writers have forgotten to mention for some reason.

Perhaps early senility is a problem in Louisiana.

As the team investigates the campgrounds, one of the paranormal guys says, "Hey, don't all the attacks occur during lightning storms? I think they do!", and the other one says, "Hey look! There's a storm blowing in! We'd better take cover in that camper!". The storm isn't the only thing that blows in this movie, as many more important plot points materialize out of some very bad dialogue. And when I say bad dialogue, I mean angsty teenage girl writing a fan-fic for Beverly Hills 90210 because she totally thinks that by expressing her feelings in writing Luke Perry will totally come to her and fall in love- bad.

The storm hits and the trio takes up temporary residence in the camper. In a scene so predictable that even its comical value is lost, polo guy peers out of the camper door during the storm and has his face ripped off. Somehow, despite all logic pointing to the contrary, Clint convinces bearded gay guy to bury his dead friend in a shallow grave in the middle of the woods. What a nice friend!

Now the reason I've explained so much of the plot is so that I could go over the dream sequence. Yes, there is a very, very, very gay dream sequence right in the middle of this movie. In the dream, Clint walks into the old Dansen place and finds his friends wandering around, all of whom appear dead. While the make up artist probably intended for Clint's friends to appear dead, the actual result is that the guys look like they are wearing way too much mascara and lip stick which makes them even more gay than when they were alive. In the dream big dead gay guy, little dead gay guy with a mustache and gay guy in a polo shirt now without a face all gang up on Clint and "get" him, making him wake up in a cold sweat.

As the movie progresses, bearded gay guy and Clint have a few lover's spats and finally decide that the best way to solve the mystery is to do some grave robbing. They find the old abandoned Dansen cemetery and dig one of the graves up to find, take a guess, an empty coffin. Under the coffin is a tunnel. After some more arguing, the guys decide to crawl into the tunnel and see where it leads (although even they mention that the tunnel probably leads directly to the old Dansen place). At first, the viewer might be concerned that our two on-screen buddies are about to crawl into an ill designed hole in the middle of the woods. But after about 5 seconds you'll notice that the "tunnel" is very obviously constructed of chicken wire and brown paper mache.

After crawling around the tunnel like a couple of hamsters, these two lost boys encounter one of the creatures. In probably the only redeeming shot in the movie, the creature remains just at the edge of the range of the flashlight, so that only it glowing eyes and fangs are visible. This is when bearded gay guy produces yet another phallic symbol from his backpack, a Desert Eagle. Of course, no one actually shoots at the monster because this movie couldn't obtain a fire arms permit. They wave the gun menacingly for a few seconds before the monster escapes.

Eventually, after spending a night huddled together "for warmth", the ambiguously gay duo find themselves back at the old Dansen place. Another lightning storm forces them to hide under the sheets that protect the furniture from dust. The monsters emerge from a door in the ground and run about the mansion like a bunch of monkeys on crack. One glance reveals that the monsters are simply wearing the same full black body-suits that the nihilists are wearing int he dream sequence from "The Big Lebowski" topped off with some dime store ghoul masks.The makeshift furniture forts that conceal the heroes prove not to be monster proof however, and bearded gay guy is eaten alive.

In the movies most anti-climactic climax, Clint confront's his boss, who is a decended from the Dansen family and has been covering up their dirty little secret. The creepy boss man tells Clint that "he's always liked Clint" and begs him to drop this story, but ultimately they wind up in a farcical fight. Both men draw guns, and when the only gunshot in the entire movie is fired, its accomplished be recording the sound of a phone book being dropped onto a table and played back while a close up shot of Clint's face is on screen. Both men stare at each other until creepy boss man hits the floor. Clint turns to see the creepy boss man's wife, who "always suspected that there was something wrong with her husband". It was she who fired the fatal shot, bringing an end 94 god-awful minutes of pain and anguish.

While the credits roll, you might suddenly become aware that during the entire film there were only 5 women on screen. There was one in the camper with her boyfriend who gets killed, a librarian with no speaking lines, two extras who are seen only in a distant shot outside the library and the creepy editors wife. These five women together only have about 4-5 minutes of screen time. The remaining 90 minutes of this movie are a total sausage fest. Couple that with the obvious couples spats that occur between the all male cast and you can't deny that Dark Heritage not only has issues, but that this movie might be better off staying in the closet, never again seeing the light of day.

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