Appellate Judge Tom Becker knows all too well the real agony of wet dirt.
The deepest cut is the best one yet.
Imagine David Cronenberg's They Came From Within (a.k.a. Shivers) cross-bred with David Cronenberg's Crash and remade with a cast of androids that had been built by moderately intelligent talking chimps.
Imagine that one of the chimps pulled its 'droid from the film because the production was an affront to the 'droid's dignity.
Imagine that the 'droid was replaced by Corey Feldman.
Imagine that the resulting film is so cheesy and misguided it's actually an insult to the legacy of Corey Feldman.
Got that? Then you can only imagine the awfulness that is Terror Inside.
Terror Inside is a wretched thing, a horror movie that's only scary when you consider that people actually invested their time, effort, and money to make it.
It starts out as you basic walk-of-shame for a formerly hot actor. Feldman plays Alan, a cool but lazy government wonk who wears huge cowboy boots and has perfectly rectangular sideburns that seem disconnected from the rest of his head. Alan/Corey is in love with fetching diner waitress Maria (Tanya Memme, one-time host of Sell This House). Since she lives many miles away in a rundown, jerkwater Florida town—so rundown and jerkwatered that it sports a payphone ('member those?) with a rotary dial(!!)—Alan only gets to see her once a week. Unbeknownst to the otherwise-hep Alan, Maria has another man-friend, the slimy (literally) Joe (Joe Abby), a driller from New York who's been hired by a college student researcher to dig up some mysterious mud.
The mud, it seems, has some mystical property that you usually find when something is unearthed from an ancient burial ground. People who come in contact with it become addicted to…pain.
Yes, you read that right.
The first afflicted one we see is the lovely Maria, who slices a finger while she's preparing a meal for herself and Alan/Corey. Rather than grab a Band-Aid, she bleeds all over the salad and rubs lemon juice on the wound (feel the burn!), then grabs her straight-laced swain and demands he tie her up and do nasty things to her. This shocks the apparently easily shockable Corey/Alan—who's sporting a fake southern accent so as not to scare her off with his big-city ways (he's from Boca Raton or someplace)—but he does consent to a little rough stuff, which seems especially painful because it involves Corey Feldman.
Alan/Corey goes home for a month, during which time the entire town gets muddied. Soon, this quaint podunk is awash with pain freaks, but instead of the usual sado-masochist jollies—whips, chains, candle wax, forced viewings of Body of Evidence—these hicks get their kicks through cuts and nicks. Cutie-pie Katie, the local beautician—played here by the real-life Mrs. Feldman, who shows that however much Corey dropped on her breast enhancements was money well-spent—becomes a leather-clad, motorcycle-riding-and-crashing tattooist and piercer, sans anesthetic, we're guessing. People dig holes in themselves, gouge out their own eyes, drink drain cleaner, and whatever else they can do to achieve that hurts-so-good rush.
Corey/Alan then comes back to town, sporting a different pair of giant boots, and finds this grimy Mayberry turned into the Carnage Capital of America. At this point, things take a turn for the worse—for the film.
After a few gruesome moments involving Mrs. Feldman and her equally well-endowed stunt double, the film devolves (not that it ever really "volved" in the first place) into a series of silly, YouTube-esque scenes. Maria, Alan/Corey, and Joe squabble ponderously to provide exposition on what's been going on; Corey/Alan and Joe duel for Maria's affections (Maria responds to this by ripping off a toenail); extraneous characters—including a woman with such a hokey southern accent that she should be doing dramatic readings from Mama's Family at the local high school gymnasium—appear to clumsily explain the phenomenon; and there are fights. Fights involving Feldman. Horrendously staged fights and physical encounters, including one where a character even less athletic-looking than Corey wraps his arm around the actor's shoulders and announces to the other characters, "You take one more step and I'll snap his neck like a twig!" This even made it into the trailer.
I don't want to slam Corey Feldman—there's been enough of that in the past two-and-a-half decades—but his performance is like a tax accountant's audition tape for a reality dating show that would end up in the "pass" pile. Seriously, his work on Dream a Little Dream 2 is a portrait of sublime brilliance compared to what he offers up here. His line readings have a weirdly self-conscious quality to them, his movements are far to the left of natural, and when he tries to act cool, you're torn between admiring his efforts to show that he's still got game and a shaking your head because he evidently doesn't.
While Feldman is less-than convincing, his is also the best performance in the film. The rest of the cast are just a few cuts below those "hidden camera" commercials in which people squeeze bathroom tissue and try to conjure up synonyms for "soft." It's not really their fault—DeNiro, Nicholson, Streep, and the ghost of Sarah Bernhardt couldn't have made this clunker work. The actors get props for barely keeping straight faces through all the silliness, though.
The disc is a negligible affair: reasonable video and audio, stills gallery and trailer as the lone extras.
For real masochists only.
Give us your feedback!
What's "fair"? Whether positive or negative, our reviews should be unbiased, informative, and critique the material on its own merits.
Scales of Justice
Studio: Cinema Epoch
• Photo Gallery
Review content copyright © 2010 Tom Becker; Site design and review layout copyright © 2013 Verdict Partners LLC. All rights reserved.