STUDIO: Lions Gate Entertainment
MSRP: $19.98
RUNNING TIME: 94 minutes
Behind the scenes featurette
Deleted scenes
Feature length commentary
Make-up effects featurette
Storyboard montage

The Pitch

Tobe Hooper’s The Funhouse set in an even more terrifying hellhole – New Jersey.

The Humans

Jamie-Lynn Sigler, Patrick Renna, Alex Solowitz and Jennifer Kelly Tisdale

The Nutshell

Strap on your seatbelt and hang on for the most original horror film plot to come along in a decade. A group of pot smoking, premarital sex having kids decide to break into a scary carnival ride and stay the night. But this is no ordinary carnival ride, my friends! It turns out that ten years ago, two little girls were brutally murdered by a criminally insane mutant who liked to recreate the gruesome exhibits in the ride.

You know, if my dog were as ugly as you, I’d shave his butt and tell him to walk backwards.

In an extraordinary coincidence, that very same lunatic escapes from the asylum on the night these kids enter the dark ride. Now he’s back to have some more fun playing with the entrails of his victims and make them a permanent addition to the ride’s horrific atmosphere. You may have encountered a similar plot in any number of Fear Street or young adult novels, but none of those stories had Patrick Renna in them, did they?

The Lowdown

Dark Ride is about as straightforward as slasher fare gets. The premise is wafer thin, the characters only exist to show off their ample bosom or smoke pot, people behave in the most mentally deficient manner possible and the only reason to watch the film is to see bodies get mutilated in creative ways. In summary, it’s everything that makes the slasher genre great. Dark Ride would fit right in when placed beside any of the Friday the 13th films or Sleepaway Camp.

Turn on your heart light.

Some people might get upset when they discover how vanilla the film is given that the whole “8 Films to Die For” marketing campaign acts like all the films have some taboo content that makes them too dangerous and horrifying for the normal public to see. If someone buys into all that hype, it’s easy to see why Dark Ride would give them a massive case of blue balls, but you can’t fault the filmmakers for the way their movie got marketed. Just keep in mind that everyone behind ad campaigns are soulless and be prepared to evaluate the movie on its own terms.

As far as the required gorey deaths go, Dark Ride shows some inspired creativity. There are head splittings like in Blind Fury, dead bodies being puppeteered like in Mindhunters, and girls killed by the act of giving head like in any Lexington Steele movie. You won’t find a lot of boring quick stabs to the chest or off-screen deaths with Dark Ride. Seeing a little girl scream as a maniac pulls her intestines out and makes a lovely neck tie out of them is just par for the course.

Unfortunately, the entire film isn’t bloody innovation. There’s the nagging problem of “dialogue” that punctuates the silence between murders and severely hinders the enjoyment of the movie. You won’t cringe at the sight of brains falling out of a man’s cranial cavity, but you will writhe uncomfortably in your seat as the movie geek character delivers yet another embarrassingly awful film reference.

The tragic consequences of swallowing after a xenomorph blowjob.

No one expects much dialogue outside of “dude I’m totally baked” and “let me give you a blow job while a killer is on the loose and our friends scream for help” in a film like this, so it’s hard to believe the filmmakers somehow made the dialogue this painful. Perhaps it’s because the film geek character reeks of the ‘90s post-Scream period of self awareness in horror films while the movie itself is an ‘80s slasher. The two don’t gel together well and most of us would prefer to put the tongue in cheek aesthetic of the ‘90s horror film behind us anyways.

Dark Ride is the meat and potatoes of low budget horror, but everyone enjoys a simple meal now and then. Ignore the marketing surrounding the film as something shocking and bold and just indulge yourself in the familiar pleasure of stupid teenagers (played by 30-year-olds) getting brutally murdered because they dare to partake in some debauchery.

The main event in hell is always Satan vs Bam Bam Bigelow, although LT will probably be stopping by shortly.

The Package

If you have even a passing interest in the low budget horror industry, the feature length commentary by director Craig Singer and producer Chris Williams is one worth listening to. The two discuss every topic a filmmaker in this genre runs into, including the incredible challenge of raising money, the nightmare of test screenings, deciding on an appropriate ending and the non-stop fun of having someone else edit your film to pieces based on audiences responses. The behind-the-scenes drama of creating horror movies is often far more fascinating than the films themselves and this commentary is no exception.

On the other hand, the featurettes are boring and superficial. If you never tire of seeing identical looking actors talk about all the horror movies they loved as young kids and what it’s like to act in a horror movie, you’ll be the only person on the planet to enjoy these features. Why must every single interview with the fresh faced stars of horror films center on the scary movies they enjoyed? Does anyone really care if the guy who guest starred on NCIS really liked A Nightmare on Elm Street? Did his love of the film really influence his acting when it came time to be ripped apart?

It was only a matter of time until more young women took the Anna Nicole Smith route to success with marriage.

A few deleted scenes are also included on the disc. Most of them are just extended takes of scenes that made it into the movie, but there are a few things of interest. An extra five minutes of the opening sequence is included here and features a heaping of gore and screaming children that probably shouldn’t have been left on the cutting room floor, especially since the credits are deliberately stretched to seven minutes to fulfill the obligation of a 94 minute film.

Overall: 5.5 out of 10