Year of Release: 1989
Running Time: 83 minutes (1:23)
Director: David McCormick
Mark LaCour ... Clint Harrison
Tim Verkaik ... Jack
Eddie Moore ... Mr. Daniels
David Hatcher ... Greg
Todd Leger ... Daryl
Joe Jennings ... Roger
Johnny Grimmet ... Creature
Shane Grimmet ... Creature
Mark McCormick ... Creature
John Reed ... Creature
James Verkaik ... Creature
After a violent thunderstorm, mutilated bodies are found at a Louisiana camp ground. Investigative reporter, Clint Harrison, uncovers a dark local legend about the reclusive Dansen clan, who may be connected with the murders. Determined to dig up the truth, Clint and his buddies decide to spend a story night at the seemingly abandoned Dansen mansion...
Dark Heritage, the Craig Cobb story. Nah, I'm only kiddin', it doesn't really have anything to do with... well now, hold on a minute, let's take a closer look here. We've got a buncha inbred monsters tryin' to stay concealed in the underground so they can terrorize anybody different'n they are, that live in a dilapidated old plantation an... oh dear. I guess it really is the Craig Cobb story. Well, I guess that explains a lot. No wonder this thing reeks like a swamp donkey's bayou butthole. God damnit, that's a whole lot less funny now that it's true. This's asshaterus in extremis, I feel like I've been denied critical, need to know information here. I mean, if it was just a bad movie that'd be one thing, but cripes man, it really seems like the Surgeon General or somebody aughta put a warnin' label on this movie. An the worst part of it is that since hardly anybody involved with this thing ever worked again, I don't even have somebody I can boycott in protest. This's some serious, tricksy, dog-whistle bullshit an we hates it. HATES IT. This's just like that time those guys with the severed goat's head let me try on that red an black robe to see how it fit, only about that time all these Baptists showed up an tried nailin' me to this big "t" an the only thing I was able to do to back 'em off was to cut my finger an point it at 'em all menacin' like while speakin' with a lisp so they'd think I had AIDS. Alright, so maybe it's not *just* like that, but I'm still feelin' pretty betrayed here. Course, later that night, most of 'em came by the house to apologize an ask me if I'd participate in a "rusty trombone." But once the reverend explained what that was to me I had to pass an pretty quick they all started pullin' out their checkbooks so I wouldn't tell nobody an now I get to watch all my movies on a 52" big screen, which's a pretty sweet deal. There sure are some pretty weird people out there though, I tell ya. That's why us normal folks gotta stick together.
But anyway, if we could get back to the flick for a minute, this's gotta be just about the best H.P. Lovecraft story ever to be turned into a hodge-podge of In the Shadow of Kilimanjaro an The Blair Witch Project filmed in Geismer, Louisiana. An since these 35 people (though to be fair, there's only 25 different last names) took the time to make this sucker, I think we owe it to 'em to take a coupla minutes an rundown some of the more nuanced learnin' opportunities that this homegrown potato has to offer. First, despite all the flesh eatin' and an the occasional bout of poop scoop'n noogies, savage monkey-men will always have the decency to return a misplaced VHS tape to its rightful owner. Second, when a man tries convincin' you to help 'im bury a corpse cause the cops're already suspicious about his involvement with another murder, there's really no reason to be concerned about it. Bros before po-pos an all that. An third, when you really stop to think about it, slavery probably single-handedly saved the nation's collective IQ from hittin' the toilet. I don't wanna offend anybody or nothin', but it's pretty obvious that havin' slaves around as an option was the drivin' force behind all these jerkoffs at least temporarily movin' away from the "why go to the mall when you can go down the hall?" school of thought. It's just a theory, of course. But I think there's one thing upon which we're all in agreement, an that's that when disgustin' white people have sex, there are no winners. I mean, besides cable TV advertisers.
But since I had so much time to just kinda sit'n contemplate the mysteries of the universe durin' this one, that tunnel crawlin' segment got me to thinkin' about how somebody really aughta put together a guide for proper spelunkin' etiquette when explorin' with company. I see you guys in the back smirkin' an rollin' your eyes. Yeah you, the ones who're thinkin' I've just gone on introspective walkabout again cause I love hearin' the sound of my own voice. You're prolly thinkin' "oh great, 'tunnel etiquette,' an when'll I ever need that you backwards, empty-headed rube?" Well, for starters, you seem like the kinda guys that'd prolly wanna make use of it after you insult the wrong person an get stuffed in an open sewer drain like the dookage you are, just to name one example. So anyway, this's what I come up with to help keep everybody's personal dignity intact, an ensure the most pleasant experience possible should you ever be packed in a tight, subterranean area with others:
1) The guy in front gets the light, that's just all there is to it. If you're too chicken to take the point, you'd best have mama pack your glow-worm doll.
2) Everybody wears dark colors. Why? Cause down there it's dirty, it's claustrophobic, it may very well have a powerful stank, an it's gonna be hot. But that don't mean everybody needs to see your pit stains an start hallucinatin' additional smells. I think it goes without sayin', but spandex is obviously a no-go.
3) If you need to cut one, you must first allow 30 seconds notice to give everybody time to get outta your blast radius. This is critical, cause that funky air's like Richard Gere, an it's got no place else to go. Additionally, don't go bein' a jackass an eat six bowls of 5 Alarm Mex-Arkana carne de burro Flatch-In-The-Pants brand chili over at the Gutter-Bowl the night before the expedition. I really shouldn't have to explain why.
4) If you've gotta tinkle, tough tittie. Cause ain't nobody crawlin' back through that on the return trip. You hold that shit like an offensive lineman tryin' to keep Reggie White from killin' your quarterback.
5) In the event the lights go out, there is to be no groping of any kind. Doing so is likely to result in your most sensitive regions bein' explored by the fists, feet, an elbows of the person you just attempted to get jiggy with. Particularly if they happen to be a 270lb man referred to affectionately as "Meat Hook" by his friends.
6) Should you encounter any bats, bugs, or bodies, there is to be no screamin' like Andy Dick when he spots the discount rack at Georgio Armani. Screamin' can cause cavin' in of the tunnel, as well as your face if you blow the ear drums outta your companions.
7) In the event that you encounter a groundhog, be very careful not to startle it. Your actions could result in an additional six weeks of winter, an nobody wants that.
8) If you smell rotten eggs, don't panic. It's statistically far more likely that someone has broken rule #3 than a buried gas line.
9) And finally, when you eventually come to a light at the end of your tunnel, don't get too excited, cause it might be a badger wearin' a coal miner's helmet lookin' for whatever's been makin' that ungodly racket.
The movie begins with these two bumpkins out in a tin camper tryin' to get back to nature after decidin' that poopin' in the back yard just isn't the same when you can go right back into the house an see what's on Sports Center afterwards. Only the woman can't go five minutes without enterin' damsel in oppress mode an starts demandin' the guy go outside to see what the heck she heard russlin' around like two raccoons fightin' in a Hefty bag an when he opens the door this big nasty arm reaches inside an starts squeezin' his neck to see if his head'll bust like a zit til the camera pans back an all the squealin' subsides. Marriage retreat doesn't seem to be helpin'; though if I was that guy, I'da retreated from that marriage a long time ago. The next mornin', this guy that looks like George Lucas (Clint) after smokin' about two pounds of Arkansas Polio Weed gets called into his boss's office an ordered to head out into the boonies to find Colonel Sanders' old abandoned plantation house an stay the night there with a camcorder to see if they can't record somethin' they can sell to the Syfy network. Then the boss (Daniels) tells 'im that he had some of his second string journalists do some research into the area til they found out that people've been gettin' butchered out there for upwards of a century but nobody was ever apprehended cause the murderers always struck while The Real McCoys an The Andy Griffith Show were on TV. So Clint agrees to load his two buddies (Roger an Daryl) up in the car an head out to the land that time was finally able to forget after approximately 17 Tequila shooters an proceed to hike in til they're all smellin' about like the Idaho state fair. Eventually they're able to find the place an get set up in the bedroom that has the lowest rat corpse to kudzu ratio before settin' up a watch schedule wherein all the secondary characters do all the heavy eye lid liftin'. Daryl's shift goes by without incident, but he's still a little nervous on account of where they are an the fact that his skin's a little bit further into the earth tones than a saltine cracker. So when he wakes Roger up to take over he makes 'im take the gun, either cause he wants a couple shots to go off before the David Dukes of Hazzard surround 'im or cause he don't want nothin' to happen to Roger, due to his inability to quit 'im. Unfortunately it don't do no good, cause awhile later Clint wakes up to find both of his expendables missin' an spots this big shadow on the wall doin' the Thriller before goin' all Kentucky Fried Chickenshit an takin' off like Jay-Z when his sister-in-law starts eyeballin' the steak knifes. So the next mornin', Clint gets called into Daniels' office an told that he's sent the finest investigative team that minimum wage can buy out to the area an that they didn't find his missin' buddies or any of the equipment an that he ain't gettin' his deposit back on the camcorder til he tells 'im what in the name of Bear Bryant's brazen brass ballsac's goin' on around here.
So Clint pinkie swears that he really did go out to the house with the guys an that when he last saw 'em they weren't dead as a direct result of his actions an Daniels decides he believes 'im cause he doesn't wanna have to learn how to use DOS to keep the paper runnin' when he's this close to retirement. Then Clint heads out to his car an finds a VHS tape sittin' in the passenger seat, an since he's never experienced that horrifyin' moment where you pop a random tape into the VCR an see your parents goin' at it like a coupla howler monkeys in the primate exhibit, he shoves it in the player an realizes it's the tape from the camcorder he had set up. Once he fast forwards through the advertisements for Serta mattresses, he ends up seein' Roger gettin' dragged off stage like Mr. T at the WWE Hall of Fame ceremony an figures he'd better get over to the library an learn him a book or two about the history surroundin' the house if he's gonna have any kinda shot at solvin' the caper an gettin' paid for the night he spent out there. Only once he starts readin', these two dorks (Jack an Greg) that look like they spent every lunch hour in high school playin' Dungeons and Dragons in the library notice the title of the book he's readin' an tell 'im that between 'em they've seen every single episode of Ghost Hunters an thus, are pretty much experts in all things paranormal in these parts. So since Clint's fresh outta toadies that he can use to distract whatever's killin' everybody while he makes a run for it, he shows the two wimps what's on his tape an tells 'im about what happened out at the house an they all decide to go be large, loud, an white in the area where a few dozen people've recently been chopped up into rube steaks. Unfortunately, they don't find anything cept for a hole in the ground an after they yell into it for awhile an China confirms they ain't seen nothin' either, they figure they'd better hole up in this abandoned camper cause it's about to start rainin' an nobody wants to risk gettin' their L.A. Gear Lights wet an havin' their flashers go out. So after it finally finishes pourin' harder'n Haystacks Calhoun's armpits durin' an iron man match, Clint an Jack pop their faces offa the windows like those Garfield suction cup dolls an ask Greg if he saw anything from the doorway. At which point, Greg topples to the floor with a grand canyon where his face used to be an Clint has to convince Jack that they've gotta bury 'im cause at this point they're gonna have a harder time convincin' the townsfolk of their innocence than those women they burned at the stake last weekend for wearin' mascara. Then they head home an Clint starts dreamin' he's back out at the klantation an pretty quick Roger walks in with his face painted up like Heath Ledger from The Dark Knight an waves 'im upstairs where Greg an Daryl're waitin' to tear 'im apart worse'n Cosmos did to Young Earth Creationism.
The next mornin', Jack comes back over to Clint's place so he can marvel at the fact that Clint's tap water won't ignite when you take a match to it an proceeds to rub his chin like he's just remembered somethin' real profound. So he asks Clint if he ever mentioned the one family member that left the Dansen klantation to attend college so he could get his doctorate in zoology an try to understand why all that time spent in the back of the barn with Bossy never did yield that minotaur he was hopin' for. No? Well, it's so irrelevant to the investigation, I mean, you can see why I could forget somethin' so inconsequential as that, right? Anyway, seems most of the people in town didn't like these weirdos anyway what with the rampant incest an reports of UFO related alligator mutilations out at their place. So when the guy (Eric) came back home an disappeared after suddenly becomin' too good to poke his sister nobody really seemed to care an shortly after that, the whole family just up an disappeared like Christian values durin' an estate settlement. Of course, now Jack wants to go make like Jurke an Herr an start disturbin' the eternal peace out in the family's cemetery to see if Eric was actually killed or if he just moved to the Netherlands where his blessed union with Bossy'd finally get some recognition. So they hop in the wargarble wagon an head back out to Chateau Jim Crow an start stumblin' around like Rob Ford 20 minutes after an AA meetin' til they find the marker they're lookin' for an Jack asks Clint if he ever mentioned Fred Dansen. No, Jack, you didn't. Nor did you mention Ted Dansen, so hows about you just lay it all out already before Burt Gummer shows up an kicks your hippy ass all over the bayou. Man's got the moves like Jagoff an it's really startin' to get old. In any event, seems Fred went to college with Eric, only he got all spoiled by the indoor plumbin' an girls that don't carry cans of Skoal around in their back pockets an decided he'd just join society. Heck, if a Clinton can do it, so can a Dansen. Then, after a little more diggin', they eventually strike mold an haul the coffin outta the grave only to find it emptier'n the camo jock straps on Cliven Bundy's militiamen. No Eric Dansen, no Max Schreck, not even an Al Lewis. Bupkis. But they do find a tunnel in the area directly beneath the coffin an decide to go on a dungeon crawl til they run into this thing that looks like a charbroiled Morlock that ends up Bugs Bunnyin' itself a hole back to the surface while the guys just kinda cower in place with these looks on their faces like they're experiencin' some trickle down peeconomics in their Wranglers. Then they dig 'emselves out an start headin' for the car, only they're too prideful to stop an ask the skunk ape for directions an end up gettin' lost an P.O.'d at each other. It'd be a real shame if they bro-kup.
Eventually, they're able to stop squabblin' about who keeps leavin' the toilet seat up long enough to realize the hole that the charcoal hiquette climbed out of looks a lot like the one they saw earlier by the campsite an start wonderin' if all the tunnels don't lead back to the house that black built before havin' a make-up spoon. The next mornin', they set out again tryin' to remember where the heck they parked til they finally end up back at the house of louse an figure they may as well look around an see if they can't find a spot that looks like it might serve as a Troggie door for the underground failroad. In the process, Jack spots this portrait on the wall that looks like it was donated by the local schoolhouse after nobody was willin' to pay $3 for it at the county fair an tells Clint that it musta been one of the Dansens cause the guy in it looks like a member of the Whig party an has two different colored eyes. Unfortunately, by the time they finally find the troll hole it's gotten darker'n Alice Cooper's wardrobe an so the guys have to make like Robert Byrd an hide under a coupla sheets hopin' nothin'll spot 'em. Then these extras from Planet of the Apes start pourin' outta the tunnel like their canary just went tits up an get P.O.'d when they can't find any stone monoliths to scratch their hineys on til they spot Jack an leave 'im torn up worse'n a bad weave after a cat fight. Didn't even try to help. What a flaccid, chickenshit asshole. This guy's no Charles Bronson, more of a Clint Leastwood. Fortunately for Clint, he smells rotten enough that he blends in an so he ends up lastin' til the mornin' an makes his way back to what passes for civilization an starts typin' up his pisspoortation til he can hardly contain 'imself an he has to stop an call Daniels. So once Clint finishes tellin' 'im that the Dansens're still livin' out there, are the ones that've been committin' the murders, an have evolved to treasure a banana daiquiri above all else, Daniels heads down to the station all secret like so he can rev up his circa 1989 Spector software an see exactly what Clint's typin' over at his work station. Then Daniels takes off his readin' glasses an gets this look on his face that you'd prolly never notice cause you're too busy makin' note of the fact that he's got two different colored eyeballs. Will cut it here, for those of you that're still awake.
Somewhere, Mr. Lovecraft is very, very displeased. I think these guys may not've realized this, but just because you're making a movie based upon another person's writings, that doesn't mean you don't employ writers of your own as well. I suppose somebody must've written a script for this, but the IMDB doesn't list any writers for the movie. It's got a script supervisor, but I don't see any writers. Which is rather strange because even when the director ends up doin' something that the writer simply cannot stomach, the credits still show a writer. Generally, in that scenario, the name Alan Smithee is used. But here, there's nothing, nada, zero, and it certainly shows. With such sparkling dialog as "I can't believe we didn't notice these before now!" and "Jordan has already asked these other two idiots that're going with you and they agreed to it also." Not to mention that the movie chooses to reveal further details about the backstory piece by piece, when one individual in the movie seems to know all the details to begin with, but doesn't lay them all out at once right from the beginning of their little investigation. I mean, can you imagine a witness tagging along with a detective revealing bits of information about a crime at arbitrary moments rather than just telling them everything in an effort to expedite the process? Revealing new bits of information piece by piece is fine, and perfectly normal, but only when it's done in the form of discoveries. It's not okay to have some jackass bogartin' details an lettin' 'em leak out in spurts like Julian Assange so he can whack off to his sense of self importance. It's also kinda weird in that it looks like it was shot in 1979, not 1989. Which is fine this long after the fact, when a movie made in either of those years is going to seem fairly old relative to the present day. But when it first came out, it must've seemed rather dated to the three people that actually watched it. The pacing is also really slow when taken in the context of a movie produced in 1989, and it'd still be a little slow for 1979. But as I said in the opening, with a crew of 35 people including the actors, with rare exceptions, nothing good ever comes from a situation like this, and it's not entirely due to ineptitude. One can also assume the budget was probably pretty pitiful. I don't claim to be an expert with regard to what things cost, but based upon what this movie brings to the table in terms of production values, I'm gonna guess that they probably didn't have more than about $20,000 to work with on this. But that fact doesn't give the movie a pass for this level of suck. Afterall, Equinox was made for a third of that, and it's significantly better.
Alright, lets remove these Silver Shamrock brand fright masks posin' as special effects an see how rotten it smells underneath. It's pretty hot in Louisiana, ya know. The plot, is of course, the high point. Because it was written by H.P. Lovecraft, and in no way shape or form the work of anybody working on the crew. Lovecraft is one of the heaviest hitters among the classic horror writers, and perhaps the best in terms of coming up with crazy, off the wall stuff. Many of his stories have been made into movies, and much like Stephen King, some are good and some turn out like Dark Heritage. Though none that I've seen come to mind as being quite as bad as this one. So the story is going to be the highpoint, no thanks to anybody but H.P. Lovecraft. The acting is bad, and I do mean bad. After watching so many movies with so-so acting, I was starting to wonder if I'd still be able to recognize genuinely bad acting when I saw it. But after seeing this, I think my judgment's still functioning properly. Not one person in this movie has any semblance of acting talent, and this fact is very well represented in my list of who matters and why. There it was. No one. In fact, of the entire cast, only 3 ever had a second acting gig, with the major success of the group netting a grand total of 5 roles throughout their career. We can't stop here folks, this is Troll 2 country. The special effects are barely existent, and the ones that do, shouldn't. The creatures are essentially just people with primate-esque make up, though I don't think that's how it's supposed to look. The one that's shown crawling around in the tunnel is probably no worse than the others, but it seems that way because it's got a whole lot more light on it than the one other time that they're shown. They're not entirely without creepiness, but that's all on the actors and their strange, rapid movements, and in no way a positive statement about their appearance. So yes, the guys with no speaking lines are the best actors in the movie. Besides the creatures, we've got the grand canyon cleavage in David Hatcher's face, which would be about half decent if your eyes weren't immediately attracted to the white objects in the effect that show without a shadow of a doubt, that you're looking at rubber, fright mask teeth. Sure, there's goop on top of it, but once you notice that part, it's ruined, and your eyes go straight to it because they stand out against the rest of the mess. There's also a severed hand that's alright, but probably only because it's so dark and on screen for about half a second. So bottom line, pretty pitiful in both quantity, and quality.
The shooting locations aren't too bad, the old abandoned plantation house is actually pretty good as these types of movies that're shot primarily outdoors go. You can just about never go wrong with an old abandoned house, so long as it's not old enough that it's gonna cave in on you. The tunnel's a pretty hokey little construction, with obvious sand bag walls, and yet, the tunnel sequence is probably the best part of the entire movie, for what it's worth. The majority of the film was shot out in the woods, and much of that back forty actually looks a lot more realistic than most movies of this ilk because generally, the crew takes the path of least resistance in terms of how thick the foliage is. Dark Heritage, on the other hand, has a lot of heavily forested southern backwoods, which is how most forested areas actually look. Crews prefer thinned areas because they're easier to work in, but I'll give these guys credit for not being sissies about sloggin' through the kudzu. The soundtrack, is probably the best thing this movie has going for it, that it actually produced on its own. It's got a genuinely dark, atmospheric, gothic score that enhances just about every scene in which it is present. It looks to have been composed by one of the extras in the movie, and it appears to be the guy's only composition. At least I'm assuming Jesse Carnes's "Study in Gothic" is the name of the entire score. Fact is, the IMDB page doesn't have anyone listed as a composer, so I'm not entirely certain if that guy did the entire soundtrack or not, but whoever did, did a nice job on it. Much nicer than this movie deserved. Overall, this one's a turkey. I watched it because the premise sounded interesting, and it is, but I haven't seen an execution botched this badly since Clayton Lockett's. This movie is only to be viewed if you genuinely enjoy the bad ones, and by bad ones I mean the really bad ones, cause this one gets the damning description of "boring." Not fun enough to be likeable, not weird enough to be memorable. Avoid the 'roid.