Memorial Valley Massacre
aka, VALLEY OF DEATH. 1988

Director: Robert C. Hughes

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

Memorial Valley MassacreThe drive-in creepy-cheapie Memorial Valley Massacre (1988) starts off with some stock footage of animals, cutting back & forth to the road on which campers' recreational vehicles are descending upon a newly developed wilderness park on Memorial Day weekend.

It's not a promising start, & it's not going to get a whole lot better, considering that the miscellaneous terrors of the wilderness include even an "attack" of a "poisonous" garter snake.

Most of the campers we're introduced to are such annoying cretins that the film-title's promise of a massacre would be very welcome. The valley developer (Cameron Mitchell) is written out of the story too soon by sending him home, so he's not one of the victims, probably only because the budget didn't permit paying a heard-of actor for more than a token appearance.

The "star" of the film, Mark Mears, plays the developer's son David. He's awfully insipid, but also the only one who "cares" about the wilderness valley's natural balance so he's acceptible as a hero.

There appears to be a prehistoric bucktooth cave youth (Steven Webster) living in the rustic park. The scene in his cave with his pet mouse makes him far more likeable than the noisy obnoxious campers he'll eventually be killing. It turns out he's not a cave man but is, slightly more credibly, a feral child who just dresses up like a cave man with nice Tarzan mane of hair, & lives in the cave grunting & ooking.

When he was ever so much younger, he was kidnapped for a ransom, but never returned to his family. His father is the crabby hard-drinking park ranger George (John Kerry). This guy, we're told, has been tracking the boy for years, but the boy's too clever.

We're also informed dad has Special Forces training in Viet Nam, but when the Rambo First Blood snares & traps start going off, they were all made by the grunting feral youth who had no way of learning such things, whereas his father the allegedly great tracker never actually shows any particular skill in the woods.

As a physical presence Steven Webster makes a fair to good Bomba the Jungle Boy type & runs about in his cave-man gear with his hair flowing in the wind, looking kind of cool, if dorky is ever cool. His performance may have been intentionally played with an element of autism.

But as written, the autistic feral boy is too inconsistent to be convincing. He improbably knows how to make all sorts of traps that would require a few simple tools he doesn't possess. When he is attacked by a fat juvenile delinquent who has a very sharp knife which he stole from a biker, the autistic cave boy seems to have learned about knives for the first time. He is impressed by that weapon so keeps it after breaking the annoying delinquent's neck.

Yet when he goes on his semi-rampage near the end of the story, he suddenly knows which wires to pull to keep anyone from leaving the woods in their automobiles or contacting the outside with radios. He even magically knows how to rig a propane cannister to blow up a trailer house.

The few deaths aren't all that bloody & don't amount to a massacre. For me the only suspense was in my wanting to know what happened to that pet mouse, which alas we never see a second time.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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