Dir: Michael Pleckaitis
Star: Kevin McCauley, Peter Randazzo, Phil Gardiner, Lorne Lakin

This is, basically, a one-joke movie: take Jaws, and replace the killer shark with a, um, tree. Fortunately, it's a good joke, and as a result, endures better than most low-budget work. If you've seen Spielberg's classic, you don't need to know the story; if you haven't, Trees, will be more bemusing than amusing. [One scene is taken from Raiders of the Lost Ark instead] But, basically, park-ranger Cody (McCauley) has to deal with a killer pine, menacing the local woods; he calls in botanist Cooper (Randazzo) and veteran tree-hunter Squint (Gardiner) for help, and they head on into the woods to track down the murderous flora. The results are as loopy as you'd imagine, but it helps that the entire thing is done totally dead-pan, without knowing winks - no-one even says, "A killer what?" This is at its best when redoing scenes everyone remembers: the opening, the autopsy and, of course, the final third where our heroes venture into the beast's territory.

These are all great; in between times...less so, though it's been a while since I saw Spielberg's version. The acting is about what you'd expect: we'll move rapidly on, except to say McCauley is a great Scheider lookalike, right down to the facial expressions. Obviously, such borderline plagiarism is hardly great art, but it is good fun, and I'm keen to see the sequel, subtitled The Root of All Evil - it doesn't seem to be a remake of Jaws 2, so will be an interesting test of their genuine film skills. Though, really, they missed an opportunity right at the end of this: Cody's last line to the killer should have been, "Smile, you son of a birch..." [Thanks to Phoenix's Midnight Movie Mamacita for organising the screening, and inviting us to it]

July 2006

Don't Go in the Woods
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