Okay, so I couldn’t find The Devonsville Terror. Considering I’m in the States to visit my family next week, and I’m writing all these posts weeks in advance – I really don’t feel like wasting my time looking around for films to watch. But thankfully Troma has many of their film catalogue available to watch for free on YouTube, which means this week I instead got to bask in the glory of 1991’s There Nothing Out There!
– director 20-years-old
Several kids decide to go to a house in the woods during their spring vacation. On their way to the house, they see the remains of a car crash where a girl died earlier after being killed by some unseen monster. Immediately one of the boys, Mike, is shook up, “I’ve rented out every single horror film on video tape. And what we just went through is the warning stage.” Yep, this is a meta-horror film, where some of the characters are aware of the rules of horror films.
Despite Mike’s insight, his friends ignore his warning. To be fair, this would be a pretty boring and short film if they did turn back. Though when they arrive at the house, instead of a run-down cabin a la Evil Dead, the house is a contemporary place complete with a security alarm. But even with Mike’s worries, he can relax knowing that there is a group of metal heads camping right by the house who are willing to be killed off first. Even Mike says, “Those kids were born to be murder victims.”
I think Mike and I would be great friends.
While the group is eating dinner on the balcony outside, they hear a noise from the kitchen. They all go to investigate and find that a pan has been knocked off a counter. When Nick (the kid whose parent’s own the house, everyone here has bland names) goes to pick up the pan, its covered in a green, sticky substance.
For some reason, seeing something like that makes two of the couples decide to head out into the woods at night. One couple goes skinny dipping in the pond (and somehow survive) while a second couple take a walk to look for firewood, on the way, the girl Janet tells a story of an unsuspecting couple who are attacked by a monster. The irony is laid pretty thick here, but it’s played for laughs. The boy dies while the girl runs smack into a tree. One down, five to go.
When Nick and his girlfriend go to sleep, Mike realises he’s on his own and barricades himself alone in his room. He leaves when he hears something from the downstairs. Pond couple are getting busy when Mike jumps in to save them from one of the sort of frog-monsters (which is a little bit like an amphibious Belial from Basket Case) that attacked the couple in the woods. But when no one other than Mike and Doreen see anything, they lock Mike in the basement. No one believes Doreen because apparently Doreen is just stupid.
In the morning, many of the items in and around the house is covered in the green stuff that was on the frying pan the night before. Might I just add, this is green in the same vein as Toll 2 and I love it. Nick also realises that he left his friend locked in the basement all night, but when he opens the door to the basement, he finds it flooded and a broken window, but no Mike. Then the friends notice that one of the couples from the night before never returned.
But because they’re all stupid, they are convinced that this is all an elaborate prank. Are people never concerned about their friends?
Nick heads into town to get someone to fix the pipes. And with Mike out of the way, that means it’s time from the frog-thing to kill people.
Mike appears just in time to save the two remaining girls, but it’s pretty clear that frog-thing has no interest in killing the women and enjoys putting face-melting acid on the men. But Doreen and Stacy still don’t seem totally convinced that Mike has his shit together, especially when he begins his horror-movie rants again.
“So you’re saying we’re in a movie?” “It’s a distinct possibility.”
Somewhere else in the woods, Janet wakes up unharmed. She approaches the house where the other two girls decide to help her, despite protests from Mike. In a pretty fun twist, it’s Doreen whose eyes begin to glow green while she attacks Stacy. This is one of the few girl-only action sequences I’ve ever seen in a horror film and it’s pretty fun. From this point forward, Stacy and Mike team up together to learn about the frog-monster and how to take it on. They finally realise the monster’s weakness: it’s dumb.
The frog-monster (which I now realise probably is part-turtle or something) is lured into a trap set up with the pair plus Nick. The trap goes all sorts of wrong, of course, but in many amusing ways. But the real ending made me crack the hell up.
There’s Nothing Out There was released five years before Scream would hit cinemas. It’s perhaps not as refined as Wes Craven’s creation, but it does have a great sense of humour. It’s easily one of the best movies I’ve seen a while. It’s one of those where I really can’t believe how long its escaped my knowledge. I really highly recommend There’s Nothing Out There is you love a laugh with your death scenes (plus the added bonus of this being a monster movie).
Mike’s easily the best character in this movie. Mostly because he’s the only one with a personality outside of a trope (though the other characters being tropes is what helps this film work), but also because it’s fun to watch the horror nerd come out on top. And most of us watching know that’s a position of power we want to be in one day: wielding our horror knowledge to save lives. But the dialogue is often very natural, almost as though the actors were doing improv at points. The balance of horror and comedy is a tricky one, but director Rolfe Kanefsky really did it well. Plus he was only in his very early 20s when he wrote and directed this.
But anyway. Go watch There’s Nothing Out There. Now.
Bonus: this movie has some of the grooviest opening credits. Even if you’re not interested in this film, watch those damn credits.