Reviewed by: JimmyO
What's it about
A group of A-Hole college students find themselves on a road trip for Spring Break. On the way they stop at an old run down amusement park to spend the night in the haunted house, just in time to meet a psycho with a love for sharp objects.
Is it good movie?
Okay, maybe it’s me but I love haunted houses. You know the kind with those little carts that move around in the darkness, while madmen and skeletons and other ghoulish things jump out at you. I thrive on the atmosphere and the general creepiness that surrounds them. Do I get scared? Hell no, but it just reminds me of my favorite holiday… Easter. I jest… of course I mean Halloween. So when I first took a look at Dark Ride one of the After Dark Horrorfest flicks to hit DVD, I had heard some pretty negative word of mouth. But frankly, I had a blast. This is a tried and true “old-school” horror flick that has the psycho killer taking out a group of kids in various bloody ways. The problem with the film is the characters that we are supposed to root for are all just awful people. Even the real reason they end up at a famed “Dark Ride” where two twelve-year old girls were murdered ten years ago is a malicious reason. These people deserve it. And they make very dumb moves which leave you questioning why they should have lived as long as they did. So if these people were so damn annoying, why did I like it? What possible reason could I have to say, hey, I dig this movie.
As I said, I love the so-called Dark Rides that are a staple at every town fair and even in the bigger amusement parks with the more expensive, amped up spook houses. This flick made me reminisce about the underrated Tobe Hooper horror show The Funhouse. I loved that movie, especially Elizabeth Berridge. I liked the characters in that film much better than this one. But call it fond memories or just a need to live a bit in the past, but the ride in the film itself, the set design and the over the top carnival funhouse direction made for a fun watch. The actor’s are competent but not necessarily great thespians, but they look to be having fun. I also really dug the killer here; Jonah, played by Dave Warden, was incredibly menacing. He kind of reminded me of the low rent Michael Myers rip-off’s and I dug it. He was especially creepy when he would play cat and mouse with the fodder. There are some great chase sequences here, they had me in the mood to rent My Bloody Valentine or try and find a copy of Final Exam. And in addition to all of that, there is some great gore here. There is a split open head, a couple of ripped out insides and more blood and gore to go around… love the “double head” scene. This is a fun movie with characters you won’t like but they’ll die soon enough so… hop on this dark ride, just prepare for a few bumps.
Video / Audio
Video: The 1.78:1 Widescreen transfer is very good and brings the fun house atmosphere to life.
Audio: The 5.1 and 2.0 Dolby Digital both sound very good. This is a pretty solid horror DVD in the audio and video department.
As for the extras, there are a few fun house thrills here. The Audio Commentary from Director Craig Singer and Producer Chris M. Williams is a good listen. From the lengths that Dave Warden would have gone to just to get the part of Jonah the psycho, to the changes made regarding the opening sequence with two twelve year-old’s getting slaughtered. This is worth a listen for all fans of low-budget horror.
Next up, ”Ticket to Ride” Making-of Featurette (15:42) is a fun look at the making of the film It mostly includes the typical talking head interviews with cast and crew, but I liked the music and enjoyed the story about how the film stopped at 666 for only one of the actors each time. This is harmless and fun.
”Behind the Mask” Featurette (5:36) is for all the gore hounds that want to see how the special effects are done. The only problem is that this is just a montage of shots with the funhouse music. I think I would have preferred a longer more detailed version of this.
The Deleted Scenes (16:40) includes a longer, dragged out version of the opening sequence which the filmmaker’s said was more brutal and received some negative reaction. Personally, I think it was just overkill. Most of these deleted scenes were taken out for good reason, even an alternate death scene for one of the characters and a little more background on Jonah. This is an interesting watch and thankfully was put in the deleted scenes section of the film.
We finally get Trailers for “Reincarnation”, “The Gravedancers”, “Unrest”, “Penny Dreadful”, “The Hamilton’s” and “Wicked Little Things”.
Dark Ride may not be a great film and according to some it may not even be a good film. But I enjoyed it for what it was; a slasher flick with an 80’s feel that sports a wicked killer and a funhouse atmosphere. Yes, the fodder were nothing but. They were nasty people that just weren’t worth caring about yet when Jonah hunted them down in some messy, bloody ways, I was into the chase. I also felt the over the top direction with blood creating a puddle in the camera lens or rooms that spin around a still character who is terrified was fun times. Yes, it’s quite simply a body count movie with a lackluster script; but I still found that it was worth the ride.