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  There's Nothing Out There Woodland Creature Feature
Year: 1990
Director: Rolfe Kanefsky
Stars: Craig Peck, Wendy Bednarz, Mark Collver, Bonnie Bowers, John Carhart III, Claudia Flores, Jeff Dachis, Lisa Grant, Sissy Frye, Cyrus Voris
Genre: Horror, ComedyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Sally (Lisa Grant) works in a video store, and it's a quiet day there until a man in black enters the shop - or at least she thinks he does, as she cannot seem to catch sight of him as he moves behind the shelves. Suddenly a tape box lands on the counter, but still there is no one to be seen, and as she goes over to pick out the cassette, something advances on her and causes her to back away, alarmed. A few lengths of videotape cascade down on her as she falls out of the door, panicking - and then she wakes up. She's driving a car, which she promptly crashes...

Quite how she managed to drive all that way while dreaming for about five minutes is left unexplained, but it does set up the plot point that there's something in the woods she has crashed in, whereupon she's forgotten about for the rest of the movie - well, almost. There's Nothing Out There was the debut by low budget auteur Rolfe Kanefsky, and he even managed to get it shown in a few cinemas, mostly as a midnight movie, which should be some indication that this was not your average impoverished shocker that would be happier released strictly on video. Actually, this gave that strain of works a good name.

There were certainly the trappings you would associate with the genre, meaning nudity and violence, sometimes both in the same scene, but there was a genuinely welcome sense of humour to what was going down here that marked it out as a cut above. Kanefsky must have been very persuasive, because most of the actresses with speaking roles offer topless scenes, with one sequence where a group of punks and punkettes going skinny dipping purely present to show some gratuitous nudity - for many devotees of this type of thing, that's the best kind, of course. But there was another reason for the skin on display.

Yes, it was our old friend irony, so not only was it a cynical ploy to keep you watching, it was a commentary on the movies that employed devices such as that. You may be sceptical, but the writer and director to all appearances took this aspect very seriously, and his concerns were wrapped up in a character called Mike, played by Craig Peck. Mike is a sarcastic, self aware horror movie fan, who the moment his friends announce they're off to a house in the woods, has his alarm bells ringing - at some stages he even looks to be well aware that he's in a movie. If this is sounding reminiscent of another, more famous horror of the nineties, then this may have not been widely seen, but Kanefsky could say he beat Scream to the punch.

Some of Mike's lines, of the "I can't believe you people are being so stupid" variety, should really have taken the viewer out of the experience, but here they prove a reason to keep watching. Although none of the cast convince as the high school students they're supposed to be, especially not Peck who looks to be in his thirties at the time this was shot, they did follow their directions and none of them embarrassed themselves (Bonnie Bowers, however, resented the amount of time she had to act while wearing a bikini and nothing else). What is a letdown is the monster, which looks like something Roger Corman might have rejected back in the fifties, even if it can fire mind controlling laser beams out of its eyes. Wisely, its showings are limited, but if anything it adds to the cheesy B-movie quality, just the kind of thing Mike would have watched and has now found himself living, except his viewing habits are an essential education. For what it was, There's Nothing Out There was nothing to be ashamed of. Music by Christopher Thomas.

[The Troma DVD is a two-disc special edition, complete with commentaries, documentaries, short films, a trailer, and much more.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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