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STUDIO Jinga Films LTD
RUNNING TIME 96 Minutes
A tale of spoiled meat, troubled teens, deranged cannibals, and unfulfilled expectations.
Dave Franco, Taj Mowrey, Elizabeth Harnois, Jessica Parker Kennedy
Ordered to a delinquent camp by their exasperated parents, a group of wayward teens fall foul of a deadly virus that infects the guards and turns them into flesh-eating monsters! Gristle and gore are on the menu-as are the kids in this Brat Camp slaughterhouse massacre.
I think it was around 2007 or 2008 when I first read about Bad Meat. The premise was immediately attractive to me and I looked forward to seeing it soon. Of course the movie was put on hiatus, then it was dead and I had nothing but a great opening credits sequence (annoyingly, not the one that ended up in the movie) to appreciate. When the IMDb page for the movie disappeared I knew it was time to turn out the lights and go home.
Then one day I’m checking my horror news sites and there’s a trailer for Bad Meat. Lo and behold, this movie I wanted and had given up hope on ever seeing was finished after all and soon it would be coming out on DVD! The moment this thing hit the pull list for reviews, I snagged it and greedily crammed it into my player knowing full well it could be absolute shit. Still, I was not adequately prepared for what I got.
The central plot deals with six troubled teens: a black street thug (Taj Mowrey), a quiet goth, a leather jacket wearing “bad girl” type, a quirky blonde arsonist, Tyler (Dave Franco), and some other girl who has brown hair. These six are attending the kind of psuedo-militaristic “scared straight” camps they’re always sending troubled teens to on daytime talk shows. The camp is run by a skinny psychopath with a concentration camp fetish and a totally unsubtle mustache/haircut combination. His fellow counselors are a dominatrix, her mowhawked bitch, and a wild man who seems to be channeling Kevin Durand from Smokin’ Aces.
The camp cook gives our four oppressors stew made with tainted meat and then drives off into the night in the only vehicle. The next day the kids wake up to find the counselors incapacitated and proceed to try and formulate a plan to travel the 40 miles of wilderness back to civilization. Unfortunately the counselors soon wake up mindless and hungering for human flesh.
It may seem like I just blazed through that synopsis but I didn’t, there’s not much story here. Obviously Tyler is meant to be the main character, but he doesn’t get a lot of screen time and what little he has he’s locked in a box before he disappears from the movie entirely. The only fully developed characters in the movie are the goth kid (who is honestly the best part of the movie) and the arsonist girl. This isn’t to say the movie is poorly acted, though. The counselors chew scenery before and after the meat but they’re pretty great and Dave Franco does his part fairly well, and badass girl and goth kid come into their own in the third act. I was even pleasantly surprised by Taj Mowrey. I at first laughed at quite possibly the least intimidating black man on Earth playing a street thug, but that ridiculousness is part of the character and Mowrey does a good job of selling both the humorous and serious sides of it.
The special effects are all great, this is a very gory movie and it earns its NC-17 rating. I’m hard-pressed to think of anything this side of The Taint or Dead Alive that’s this gooey. There’s a nice mixture of realistic and cartoonish violence which makes things visceral but still fun.
If not for the fact that this movie is clearly unfinished, I would have nothing bad to say about it. But Bad Meat isn’t finished, not at all. Apparently after the project was suspended, only four of the six young actors returned and they didn’t have enough in the budget to film much of the unfilmed scenes from before. This means there are plot holes, gaps, and just a lot of problems. What kind of problems you ask?
What did Dave Franco’s character Tyler do, and why does the arsonist recognize him like he’s famous? What did the counselors do to the cook that was so terrible that he poisoned their food? Where did the cook get the tainted meat and did he realize what it would do? Where does brown haired girl go and how does she die if we’re meant to take that gnawed jaw bone to be hers? Who is brown haired girl and why is she here? Is Tyler killed when the counselors attack the hot box he’s locked in? Who is the one apparent survivor of all this and why are they wrapped from head-to-toe in bandages? None of these questions are ever answered.
What I’m trying to say is that it’s apparent that scenes are missing, it’s very obvious that two cast members left before the movie was done, and the only thing really done to “finish” the movie was to add a framing device of an injured teen in bandages telling the story via typing it on the computer but never revealing who they are. The fact that this movie is so well-done and so many parts of it work so well, despite the fact that the original director was fired early on and Dave Franco has gone on record saying it was the worst shoot he has ever done, only serves to piss me off. At one point the movie runs out of original footage and just ties the story up in a confusing, anticlamactic, and stupid thing that doesn’t answer any questions at all. It literally would have been more satisfying if they’d just gotten a half-competent cartoonist to animate the rest of the movie according to the script.
Now I realized that some people like seeing failed movies like this out of morbid curiosity; it’s the only fathomable reason why Grizzly 2: The Concert and Sleepaway Camp 4 get bootlegged. But neither of those movies were professionally released (or at least not released alone in Sleepaway Camp 4‘s case) and they certainly weren’t advertised as a completed project. This DVD is a scam and it’s kind of bullshit the way it’s being put out there as a finished movie. If you’re curious about this, buy it used, I’m sure there are plenty of pre-owned copies lurking in resale shops all across this land.
The movie isn’t the only thing unfinished. The box lists a trailer as the sole special feature but I don’t know where it would be since there’s no disc menu. The movie just starts instantly after you put it into the player. I am honestly surprised it’s not just a DVD-R in a jewel case with a paper bag wrapped around it.
Out of a Possible 5 Stars