The Hook of Woodland Heights 1989 Review
The Hook of Woodland Heights 1989
Directed by: Michael Savino
Starring: Christine McNamara, Robert W. Allen, Michael Elyanow
Review by Luisito Joaquín González
It’s easy to make a slasher film. No really, it is. Compared to any other cinematic genre, the funds and tools needed to get a masked killer movie on the shelves are quite simple to put together. That’s why a category so low on room for authenticity and creativity is as overcrowded as a central-London bus during rush hour. Although it may be a relatively simple task to pitch a dime store maniac against a group of your closest buddies and then package it as the most shocking cinematic gross-out since The Exorcist, creating a decent entry has become something of an impossibility for modern up and coming filmmakers.
Many, MANY budding directors have attempted bravely to give the cycle a new landmark feature, but the results have almost always been resoundingly dismal. Of the six-hundred-plus entries currently in existence, only a 3% have achieved recognition from celebrated cinema critics. 3%! Despite those shocking statistics, the genre continues to thrive on the bottom shelves of video stores across the globe and every now and then future stars are discovered hamming their way through a woefully uninspired killer in the woods yarn.
The huge personal satisfaction gained by a crew being involved in the production of a film that people have actually seen – that has actually gained some kind of back-hand distribution – also cannot be ignored. For most people it’s a dream that’s as far away as an undiscovered solar system; but for a select few – even if the said feature just happens to be an awful low-budget splatter flick – that dream has become reality.
With that said, it’s easy to understand the motivation behind the production of The Hook of Woodland Heights. Released on a twin-pack with the equally appetizing (in the cheesiest possible way) Attack of the Killer Refrigerator, Hook is one of those movies, made strictly tongue in cheek in order to be consumed in a similar fashion. Long live trash cinema…
It all kicks off with an introduction to our central characters. First off we meet Tommy, a weasel-like jock whose modus operandi throughout the runtime seems only to be to succeed in getting his leg over his frumpy sweetheart Katie. Kate is also no one’s definition of a genius and spends most of the movie attempting to do everything in her power to get herself killed. The pair head out to the serenity of the local woodland, blissfully unaware that Mason Kraine – a maniacal one-armed maniac – has taken it upon himself to escape the surprisingly cosy confinement of the local asylum and head out to bolster his already impressive list of victims. Will the angst-ridden youngsters be able to make-out in peace and avoid the now fork-handed psycho? Do ducks float on water?
Hook is an out and out slasher movie alright; and it seems content to swim amongst the platitudes of its brethren. There’s no danger of breaking any new ground here as director Savino stumbles through the clichés like a wrong-footed alcoholic on a Marine assault course.
With that said, in many places the film transcends its $32,000 budget. There’s some fun gore on display and the hilarious performance of the hyperactive killer is worth the budget rental price alone. It even plays host to by far the most bizarre murder ever committed to cheap videotape. Death by clipboard anybody? Exactly.
Hook of Woodland Heights runs no longer than forty minutes, which is probably the perfect length for a picture of this genre. I mean, it manages to pack in all the necessary character development, whilst in the same breath laughing in the face of titles such as The Prey, which found it essential to pad their runtimes with pointless and irrelevant footage in order to bolster the length of the feature. The script packs in everything that’s needed to keep the plot running and the audience are never left feeling short-changed.
Rumour has it that none of the cast and crew saw a shiny circular dime for their participation in the production of this ambitious title, so kudos to director Savino for keeping them motivated enough to deliver enthusiastic, if not decent, performances. There are the expected continuity shotgun holes and the acting is as rancid as a blooper reel from a daytime soap, but Hook is by no means the worst slasher flick on the market.
Savino even tries to go all controversial by putting a pre-teen to the sword, but things never get too mean-spirited. This is mainly thanks to the killer’s laugh-inducing performance and his awful make up, which leaves him looking like an anaemic Russell Brand.
OK so there’s nothing here to recommend, but if you’re like me, and have an unhealthy addiction to slasher trash, give this cheapie a try. There are a lot worse efforts clogging up Amazon.