Jarv’s Schlock Vault: No Man’s Land: The Rise of Reeker
I once stole money from a quadriplegic because I needed shoes
This is a turn up for the books, and I’m not joking here. Ordinarily, a DTV slasher sequel has basically one of two ways to go: it can either produce a lame facsimile of the first film, or it can completely ignore it and throw something truly bugnuts out into the world. The latter is probably the better way to go, and when successful can throw up some absolutely hilarious efforts such as the two Prom Night Mary Lou efforts. David Payne, however, when returning to Reeker in 2008 thought he’d try his hand at something slightly different, and, I have to say, that I’m truly impressed at the final result, because Reeker 2 (I’m not typing the whole title out every time) is far far better than it has any right to be.
Absolutely contains stinking fucking spoilers to both this and the first film below.
Opening in 1978, we’re introduced to a travelling salesman (Michael Robert Brandon) driving across Death Valley. He has an unnerving encounter with a hitchhiker then drives off about 100 yards when he stops the car. The Hitcher thinks that he’s come to his senses and is going to offer the lift, when the salesman accelerates back at a rate of knots and smears him all over the concrete. One messy murder later, and we return to the Salesman’s shack in the deserts. It’s, frankly, disgusting and nobody shares the horror more than David Stanbra’s Deputy McAllister. He should be fucked, but unexpectedly the Salesman turns himself in. Cue a couple of interviews with the Salesman where he lays out that he’s obeying the orders of the voices and when he dies he will capture souls until his flesh is no more. The world, understandably, lets out a sigh of relief when this nutter is finally consigned to the gas chamber, but cut back to the shack in the desert, and there he is, bloody, crawling, and ready for his new purpose. This is where the spoilers now appear.
The premise of the first film was that our central characters were actually dead the whole time, and the Reeker was merely ushering their souls into the next world, so all wounds were similar to those inflicted in the car crash. Think Final Destination with an actual manifestation of Death. Reeker 2, obviously, knows the big twist from the first film, and therefore the usual slasher template, is a bust, so has to operate on a different level. Therefore, the main crux of the plot, victims caught in an isolated location being picked off by a masked killer, is going to struggle if its to be anything more than a rehash (of the lame variety) of the first film.
We’re introduced to our cast of victims, there’s Sherrif McAllister (Robert Pine), his son (who will be taking over) Harris (Michael Muhney), unhappy waitress Maya (Mircea Monroe) and a few others that will become relevant shortly. Into this mix is added psychotic Binky (Desmond Askew) and fuckup Alex (Stephen Martines), Maya’s ex. The two dimwits have robbed a casino and in a spectacular act of fuckuppery ignite the petrol pumps blowing the whole mess sky-high. The screen flickers briefly and our characters are now isolated, joined only by Allison (Valerie Cruz), a local doctor, and briefly, a drunken exposition-fueled injun to tell us important need-to-know information. Our characters waste no time in investigating their surroundings, with mildly amusing results, and Reeker appears frequently to pick them off one by one. The film ends with our survivor (no prizes for guessing who) destroys Reeker in a big fucking explosion.
This, and I know it’s an immensely dumb thing to say, can be enjoyed on a few levels depending what you’re after from a slasher movie- if you are a standard gorehound type then the variety and ingenuity of the kills is more than enough to keep you interested. If you know the first movie, there’s plenty of entertainment to be found from trying to tie in the way the characters are punched out with what happened in the first accident. However, I found the extension of the mythology and the creation of the wraith genuinely interesting, and as an idea for an unstoppable killing machine goes, this is an absolute cracker. Reeker has a reason for his actions, but we’re never allowed an insight into who is pulling his strings. He’s merely the agent of death operating almost with absolute impunity, and there’s a certain entertainment value in watching our motley crew of corpses banging their heads against fate in the most futile way.
The performances, with the exception of Brandon are little more than passable, and the writing, aside from the cleverness of the central premise, ditto. Occasionally the odd piece of dialogue (the exchange between Alex and Harris, for example) sparkles, but mostly it veers towards the exposition heavy (particularly from Allison). There is also the odd hilarious set piece, such as Binky crashing his car into an invisible barrier with gruesome and highly amusing consequences. Overall, though, the strengths of this film don’t like in acting or writing.
Where they do lie is in the direction. By far the worst thing about the first film, and what stopped it getting an approval, was the completely idiotic smell-o-vision. Payne has learnt from his mistakes, and this is now, thankfully, a thing of the past. Furthermore, he’s aware that he has a supernatural monster on his hands, so has come up with a clever visual trick with Reeker edited to move in a disjointed fashion. It’s a simple effect, but it works with no little style and adds a layer of creepiness to Reeker that serves the film well. Reeker himself, incidentally, is an excellent villain- the zombie and gas-mask makeup and costume is itself inherently creepy, and he has a not inconsiderable presence on the screen.
Overall, this is clearly a heavily flawed movie: the performances are passable, the script contains moments of brilliance but mostly lives in the mundane, and it is, essentially, just a slasher movie. Although one that provides a very impressive set of bells and whistles. Nevertheless, the mythology is well thought out, the makeup and effects are impressive given the budget, and quite simply it is entertaining. Furthermore, the villain himself makes a supremely welcome addition to the slasher monsters, and I found myself enjoying the film far more than I otherwise should have been. No Man’s Land: the Rise of Reeker, is an impressive and assured DTV effort that is quite simply far better than it has any right to be.
Incidentally, and hilariously, part of the budget for No Man’s Land: The Rise of Reeker was supplied by the Council for Ethical Use of Cellphones at Gas Pumps (this is wholly appropriate). I didn’t even know such a body existed, and given events in the film, I’m not surprised they funded it.
Next up, I’m not really sure, but I doubt very much it’ll be of the same standard as this.
OK film this one. Quite enjoyed it.
I felt completely opposite on this one. The first Reeker was amusing but not great, and this is just a complete retread–honestly, nearly a remake–of the original and I found it personally to be much less entertaining.
The ‘mythology’ isn’t any deeper than what you mentioned above, and since the twist and surprises–not that they were shocking or indecipherable first go round–are virtually the exact same as the original, there’s nothing here BUT a typical slasher film.
I don’t expect brilliance from a series like this, but this one felt like an exercise in spinning wheels. It’s not like Evil Dead 2, where Raimi remakes his movie with a staggeringly different tone. This is a meaner duller movie than the first one. It was too early in this guy’s career to start repeating himself.
I’ll give you the direction is improved, but this one–no offense–is a stinker. Best I can say about it, it’s better than the Feast series.
See, the first film pissed me off on more than one occasion with the idiotic smell-o-vision thing that actually sank the film for me for the most part.
This one, because it got rid of that scored higher. Plus, I really liked the bookends with Reeker’s origin and whatnot.
Neither of them are award winning, BUT considering the paucity of slashers, and how many the wife inflicts on me, these two stood miles above the rest.
Feast fucking blows.
They should have called the movie Reeker 2: The Reeking that pops
How does it survive being Ironside-less?
I’ll have to give this and the first one a go – can’t believe I gave away the twist in the comments, I was only joking!
Those captions… and I thought it was only me capable of such dreadful punnery. ‘Legless’… and you went there, head held high. Respect.
Good stuff, Jarv.
Makes no odds to be honest Wolf- Ironside is pointless and miscast in the first one.
Give the first one a go- if you can get past smell-o-vision, it’s a slightly better than average slasher. If you are then interested in the back story, give the second a go.
So do the characters know they’re dead? And what’s the point of the killer? Why is he rekilling them? And what happens when they “defeat” the stinker? Do the survivor/s come back to life, or get reincarnated or something?
It operates on the line between life and death- they twig half way through that they’re all effectively in a coma. They’re trapped within a certain radius of where they died, in this case the motel/ diner/ petrol station.
He’s reaping them for the afterlife, basically.
If they take him down, they’ll wake up.
How does that work? Are they all unharmed if they wake up? I thought they were all in an accident to start with.
No, they all carry the injuries they got in the accident.
Although the film does cheat and those that couldn’t possibly have survived are picked off. In the first film, it’s far more effective, because when it reveals the twist it shoes them being killed in the accident, and the injuries they sustain with the Reeker fit what happened in that.
In the second film, they can’t do this.
It is contrived, no two ways about it.
They cannot defeat the killer, for the killer is only their brains’ failing explanation of what has already happened. In reality they all died during the shootout & gasoline tank explosion. The rest was mostly in their head, like with “Death Watch” where world-war 1 soldiers failed to realize that the “gas” had killed them. I find that attempt of staying scientific, where mysticism, or occult, would belong, quite pestering by now. Bit I guess that dude will haunt us with a 3rd film nonetheless.
Greetings Jarv, first of all thank you, for the review, and the spoiler-warnings. I am no “film-fan”, more of an ex-roleplayer. To me this film/movie came after I read “WoD Slasher” (see youtube, or Wiki, on demand). With a different mindset, like “can I use that to reenact in our gaming group” even mediocre horror-films become easier to endure. The rules you mentioned are worshipped by some, still if you are obviously too smart for that bunch, it is your mistake to stay. Don’t bath in that frustration, instead go find better people, and better entertainment. Or start doing some yourself. See; critics there are plenty. To become one all it needs is scepticism, or fun on the smear-job. To become a good artist, or entertainer, in this information age of interconnectedness, one must compete with the worlds best early on, to leave any “decent” impression. That is much harder work.