Red River DVD Review
Written and directed by Jacob Ennis
2010, Region 1 (NTSC), 78 minutes, Not Rated
DVD released on February 1st, 2011
David Haney as Roland Thatcher
Jackey Hall as Samantha
Dustin Roe as Wes
Ronica Jones as Tammera
Levi Brandenburg as Cliff
Megan Marie Wilson as Natisha
Tucky Williams as Ranger Darcy
Jason Crowe as Hamburger Head
Red River is the story of Roland Thatcher and his mutant inbred son — affectionately referred to as Hamburger Head. Roland is seemingly a God-fearing man, attending his extremist bible thumping, snake wrangling, backwater church every Sunday. There he spends his time speaking in tongues emanating from the voice box amplifier that dangles from his neck that suspiciously resembles a flesh colored dildo.
During the rest of the week he is busy mutilating promiscuous teens and toothless rednecks for use in his county-famous fertilizer. He then uses the scraps to feed the mutant son that he keeps chained down in the basement. Think Sloth from The Goonies, but with less sophistication and a penchant for human flesh.
Business is evidently quite good despite Roland's rather lackadaisical nature about keeping his special fertilizer ingredient secret, as he nonchalantly leaves human body parts strewn throughout the town like some brutally sadistic Johnny Appleseed.
Of course the acting in Red River can be equally as brutal, which is to be expected given its limited resources, but who are we kidding here? You watch a movie like this to see boobs and gore, and this film showcases plenty of both. You will witness your fair share of stake impaling, eyeball gauging, beheadings, throat slitting, ankle snapping, maggot eating, and skull smashing. There is also a nifty death by roto-tiller and a very disturbing scene where Roland decides to indulge his inner Nip/Tuck by performing a less-than-hygienic mastectomy on one of his living victims. My favorite scene, while not the goriest, is when Roland is chasing a comely vixen thru the woods after she suffers a pretty nasty head wound. The ensuing "chase" is very slow and deliberate as she stumbles through the forest at a dazed tortoise pace while Roland lumbers behind her making obscene gestures, knowing full well that his prey has no chance of getting away. It's very creepy and most effective.
Red River, the no-budget inbred cousin to The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, The Hills Have Eyes, and Wrong Turn doesn't bring much new to the table (and at this point, what cannibalistic hillbilly flick could?), but what it does do, it does surprising well. It never seems to take itself too seriously, successfully teetering between goofball redneck romp and twisted low-rent gore-fest.
One last thing, having been born in Connecticut and raised primarily in Massachusetts, I have no doubt whatsoever that Red River is an accurate depiction of life in rural Kentucky.
Video and Audio:
The video is nothing special, but at least it was shot in widescreen (albeit non-anamorphic).
The audio is the weakest link of the entire production by far. An unambitious 2.0 channel audio track that was obviously recorded off of the camera mike as the dialogue is often muddled and at times difficult to hear. A bit of advice: if your words are worthy enough to make it into your screenplay then they're worthy enough to employ a dedicated dialogue track.
There is a surplus of excellent extras on this disc, including a 35+ minute making of featurette that delves into many of the issues no-budget filmmakers must endure to make their vision a reality.
A very cool "creating a monster" segment that highlights the entire sculpting process from initial blob of clay to completion in an extended fast-motion sequence.
Most interesting of all is an eight minute piece on scouting locations for the film, in particular the creepy backwoods dilapidated cabin that Roland Thatcher calls home. Evidently, the ramshackled dwelling decorated with the bones of animals and the dirty torsos of busted mannequins wasn't built specifically for the movie, but was rather the real home of some eccentric local Kentucky boogyman who scared the ever living tobacco-spit out of children in the area until he was sent off to a nursing home.
Rounding it out are four minutes of deleted scenes that were best kept that way, and a bunch of trailers for other Alternative Cinema releases.