Nothing kills a horror movie more than being mediocre. A horror movie can be fantastic, or it can suck. And at least with suckage, the campiness level tends to increase to a point at which we can revel in the ridiculousness of the plot or the horrendously cheesy lines. Sadly MINER’S MASSACRE doesn’t suck nearly enough. It’s just average. So being a glass half-full kind of guy, I’ll try to pick out the bright spots.
The basic story centers around three couples and their pursuit of lost gold in a haunted town called Suttersville. This town was very active in the gold rush and through a flashback, we learn that one of the greediest men from the 1800’s, Jeremiah Stone (the “Miner”), laid a curse upon anyone who touched his gold. Well, so far so good. The filmmakers learned lesson one of horror movie-making: set up the flick with one ridiculous, albeit simple concept and stick to it.
After a brief murder scene involving the Miner, we flash forward to modern day and are taken to a suburban home where Claire and Nick Berman receive a cryptic message from Claire’s brother that includes a sample piece of gold along with a treasure map. A treasure map? Bring out the Goonies! At this point I had high hopes for Corey Feldman and some other coked-out child actors to mix it up with Sloth and the mom from “Throw Momma from the Train.”
Unfortunately, we don’t get any of that Goonies fun. The most fun we get in this also-ran drama is in an aptly-named character of Axl (Steve Westell). Axl starts a hard rock band with his buddies Slash and Duff and…well, sadly, no. But, actually in the film’s funniest scene, Axl, squats down in the forest while dropping the kids off at the pool (you would be too following a meal of bonfire cooked beans) and hears some snaps and cracks in the woods. Suddenly, something begins to chase him and as he runs, he falls face first with white ass cheeks exposed. Turns out, of course, it was just the local sheriff, but the end result is a surprisingly funny scene. I would venture to say that Westell could develop into a legitimate actor one day as he stole every scene he was in.
Back to the plot. So off the Bermans and other randomly invited couples go to the town and even though they are told by various crotchety old people that they “shouldn’t go near dem dere hills,” they of course do. The couples encounter the Miner for the first time as a group and from then on, the Miner chases after them relentlessly, using all of the typical mining tools to kill them. They touched his gold, so he is pissed, and until all of his gold is returned, he won’t stop.
The Miner has a very animalistic nature and his face is mangled and black except for his piercing blue eyes. He grunts and snarls as he chases his victims. He wields a pick axe, a shovel, a chain with a hook and he catches the blood of his victims in a gold mining pan.
On the good side, the production value on this movie is by no means extreme low budget. There are explosions, extreme stunts and the Miner actually looks halfway decent. Actually, wait, maybe it’s not a good thing. No, actually, it’s a bad thing. If this movie had an extremely low-budget production value, maybe it would have had the campiness humor thing going for it. Continuing with this theme, the villain isn’t so unscary that he is funny and he isn’t so scary that he is scary. Right in the middle. Sigh! Not where you want to be.
MINER’S MASSACRE is not destined for greatness in bad horror movie history, because it’s not so bad that it’s good, but rather it is just forgettable. So, I took one for the team here and wasted 85 minutes of my life. No worries, it’s just my life...
Rating: *1/2 (out of 4)