• Carnage Park

    Released By: Shout/Scream Factory
    Released On: November 1, 2016.
    Director: Mickey Keating
    Cast: Ashley Bell, Pat Healy, Alan Ruck
    Year: 2016

    The Movie:

    Promising an insight into one of "the most bizarre annals of crime" in American history, Mickey Keating's Carnage Park opens in a dusty, deserty area of California, circa 1978, where ex-cons "Scorpion Joe" (James Landry Hébert) and his portly friend Lenny have just knocked over a small-town bank. Realizing that the most effective way to get away clean is to grab a hostage to take along for the ride, the two snag farmer's daughter, Vivian (Ashley Bell), and lock her in the trunk. Unfortunately for Lenny, his oversized girth makes a formidable target, and the large lad catches a well-aimed slug, reducing him to a blubbering, crying, dying mess in the back seat. Scorpion Joe is not too jazzed about this latest development, obviously, and finding Lenny far too heavy to move on his own, let's Vivian out of trunk captivity to assist him once he pulls off of the road and into the brush.

    But while it may have been Lenny who was having the worst day ever prior, Scorpion Joe quickly enters the fray as a contender when he catches a brain-spraying sniper bullet in the back of the head. Vivian, after getting over the bloody shock, is suddenly under the impression that she's having a much better day than her late captors...but is proven wrong with the appearance of a man with a great big sniper rifle and a healthy supply of chloroform. When Vivian wakes up, she seems to be free...free to approach an ancient looking record player, drop the needle, and hear the tortured sounds of sirens and slow-motion soundscapes pouring out from nearby PA speakers. The noise is so disorienting that the first bullet snapping by her is something that she misses, but when more follow, kicking up the dirt at her feet, she runs, literally, for her life.

    It turns out that Vivian is having just about as bad a day as Scorpion Joe and Terry, stalked across a vast acreage of private property belonging to Wyatt Moss; a former combat veteran turned survivalist turned big game hunter, whose idea of big game is terrified humans. Isolated from the rest of the sane world and impenetrable by local law enforcement (Alan Ruck? What the hell?), Wyatt's safari is well-known to him, but a horrifying mystery to Vivian. As the deranged ex-soldier gets closer to tracking down his quarry, Vivian has no choice but to confront the man in the belly of the beast, a well-planned out maze of terrifying tunnels that exposes the mass of corpses who have previously played Wyatt's brand of hide-and-go-seek.

    From the opening scenes of Carnage Park, it seems pretty obvious what we're in for; an out-and-out borrowing of the collected works of Quentin Tarantino. A heist gone wrong, a bloody bandit in the back seat, a reassuring wheelman, a wacky and eclectic soundtrack...this is the look of Reservoir Dogs, with the sound of Kill Bill. But the Tarantino vibe soon gives way to the faded 70's look of Rob Zombie's films, with the over-the-top excessive profanity to boot, and suddenly it's like the Firefly Clan have come to visit the set. This "homage" carries on throughout the film, with borrowed camera angles, editing techniques, and soundtrack queues, leaving no doubt that Carnage Park might be many things, but original is not one of them.

    The film does have a few things going for it, however, mainly the acting; while Ashley Bell and Pat Healy are about as one-dimensional as you could ask for, both James Landry Hébert and Alan Ruck deliver here, even if the former is hindered by some pretty nonsensical dialogue. And even though the soundtrack is obviously meant to mimic the directors previously mentioned, it is an enjoyable listen...from foreign-language pop to spaghetti westernish. Add in some very competent physical effects; Scorpion Joe's largely headless corpse is pretty fantastic; and we're almost willing to overlook a few silly plot devices and confusing set pieces. Ultimately, however, Carnage Park's unintentional "nothing new to see here" delivery brings it down to ineffective and largely forgettable.


    Scream Factory brings Carnage Park to Blu-ray in a 2.40:1 AVC-encoded transfer that's as expected for a DV outing...detail is crisp, compression issues are absent, and the format obviously lacks the usual suspects of print dirt and damage. That being said, this one isn't exactly an eye-popper, as the source material utilizes filters to give the film a 70's film stock look...slightly orange in nature. And while it may also be more source material than transfer, the film suffers during the last segments which take place in dimly lit conditions, rendering action on the screen difficult to make out.

    Two English audio tracks are provided, with English and Spanish Subtitles included. The first is a DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 track, the second a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track. Both are adequate for the film, delivering all of the elements appropriately and balanced well...except when they're not supposed to be...though the 5.1 does have a slight edge in providing a more ambient experience; utilizing the surrounds slightly to give the track a little more air. Dont' expect a lot of obvious discrete separation or heavy bass rumbling, the 5.1 on this release utilizes the "less-is-more" approach.

    A Trailer is the lone extra.

    The Final Word:

    I thought that the end of the 90's put the stake in these homages, but apparently not. Light on the carnage, light on the originality, and barebones, this release barely qualifies as mediocre.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 2 Comments
    1. C.D. Workman's Avatar
      C.D. Workman -
      Excellent review, Mark. Very well written.
    1. Mark Tolch's Avatar
      Mark Tolch -
      You're a sweetheart, Workman!