Saturday, August 21, 2010

Truth or Dare: A Critical Madness (1986, Tim Ritter)

After horror films started taking off on the home video market in the early-mid 80's, producers realized they could make films cheaply to be released straight to video.  They could shoot them on video and release the films themselves to net a higher profit.  Truth or Dare is one of the early films shot on video and released straight to video.  With a budget of $250,000 and a 17 year old director still in high school, the results are, well, exactly what you'd expect.  Now, 14 years later, the film is available again on DVD from MVD Entertainment Group (after being out of print for quite some time).

Truth or Dare is the story of Mike Strauber (John Brace), an average guy who goes nuts after he finds his wife humping his friend.  Mike decides to drive around to get his head together and decides to pick up a female hitch hiker.  They go into the woods together and start playing Truth or Dare.  Things get ugly when they start mutilating each other, only to find that the woman is in Mike's obviously polluted psyche and that he is mutilating himself.  Woah.  After 13 months in a hospital to recover (we are told this by some very low tech scrolling text followed by an endless number of "..."s), Mike plays Truth or Dare again, this time with some fellow (imaginary) patients.  After cutting part of his face off, he then makes himself a mask (in metal shop, of course) to cover up his new hunting knife makeover and escapes the hospital.  Mike then goes on a killing spree (this time for real) and it is up to a bunch of bumbling cops to catch him.

Truth or Dare was an...uh...interesting film.  If it wasn't so damn weird and off the wall, I would say it was terrible.  The truth is, the film was quite watchable (though it would have been more so with a six pack and a bunch of friends to throw beer cans at the TV screen).  The acting is some of the worst ever committed to film ( and it is so dated that you expect to hear the latest Banarama and Kajagoogoo songs at any moment.  Unfortunately we get some crappy synthesizer and schmaltzy piano music (I use the term music loosely) instead.  Surprisingly though, these elements, combined with some viciously taboo kills and unexpectedly well done stunts (which is I'm guessing where most of the budget went), are what make the film so fun.  Oh and if you're a fan of terrible music, you'll be excited to know that AJ McLean from the Backstreet Boys plays the young Mike Strauber (which just adds to the oddness of this movie).  Yes, this movie is terrible and resembles many of the movies my friends and I used to make in high school, but its sheer ridiculousness makes it watchable.  Make sure you have plenty of beer and fellow bad movie loving friends to share the enjoyment.

RATING: 4/10 (this is an average of the film's 2/10 quality level and its 6/10 fun level)

Truth Or Dare? A Critical Madness

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