Son of 31 Nights, 31 Frights: Treevenge

Son of 31 Nights, 31 Frights

In observance of that autumn spell when we celebrate the primal, compulsive instinct of fear, Rainestorm once more highlights 31 days of spooky scares to season the eerie atmosphere of Halloween.

For those who tuned in last year, I subjected you to a daily dose of diabolical dread and devilish distress. Just as every good horror movie deserves an inferior sequel, I offer this follow-up of also-rans, not bads, and perhaps a couple of you’ve-gotta-be-kidding-mes.

Unleashed: 2008

Treevenge

The horror of Cellulose Face

What evil lurks: Depending on your disposition, after seeing this you may either get an artificial Christmas tree and spend the rest of your days in solemn repentence of your genocidal past, or buy a plot of land, plant some trees and wish that Christmas would come everyday (I suspect Eli Roth would choose the latter option). Director Jason Eisener won the trailer contest for Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino’s Grindhouse with Hobo with a Shotgun, delivering it with such memorable panache that he was later allowed to adapt it into a full-length feature starring Rutger Hauer. Eisener and co-screenwriter Rob Cotterill concocted this deliriously over-the-top holocaust homology that sees a murderous band of Christmas tree farmers cutting down and hacking up innocent timber. The rampage continues until the enraged tannenbaume, pushed to their limit, exact gloriously merciless revenge. Eisener has mined every preposterous horror trope and amped it up to outrageous proportions, with ample supplies of blood, gore, glee, and “oh, no they didn’t/oh, yes they did” exploitation barbarity.

Highlight from hell: Every scene of this film is deliciously twisted… but it’s hard to top the moment when one vengeful tree takes his rage out on the man who violated him with a finger full of Vaseline… by responding in kind.

Terrifying trivia: Treevenge beat out the far less comical but far more interesting short film, The Facts in the Case of Mr. Hollow at the Blacklist Art and Film Festival for ‘Beast’ in Show in 2010.

Diabolical dialogue: “Chop fuckin’ chop!”

Son of: The Return of the Living Dead Part II (1988). A more straightforward comedy than its predecessor, this sequel virtually abandons the horror elements in favor of absurdity. It works for about half the picture before it gets old.

Shoddy sequel syndrome: To say it lacks subtlety would lack subtlety.