From Jack Ketchum's sequel novel to OFF SEASON, the sequel movie hits before an original movie is even made…due to a rights issue. Ketchum is a major player in the horror novel scene these days and he adapts his novel with feverish zeal. (Ketchum's original novel OFF SPRING was pretty much a fanboy's delightful homage to Craven's HILLS HAVE EYES movie…only a lot more bloody with graphic sex scenes!)
OFFSPRING is kind of like…THE HILLS HAVE EYES 25? WRONG TURN 12? Basically, it's City Folks vs. a tribe of Maine Cave Dwellers in the woods. The Cave Dwellers looks pretty good for a cannibal bunch feeding off the occasional (supersized?) camper. Leigh Shannan as Second Stolen, in particular, is one fine piece of cannibal eye candy that makes the movie worth viewing, prancing around fully nude in the woods most of the time with her perky feminine curves on ample display. A fine young cannibal she is indeed, I nearly wore out the freeze-frame button on my DVD player whenever she made an appearance! The problem is most of the other cannibals (including young kids) look like they've been outfitted by a Halloween Express costume aisle, but hey, it's a low budget movie, so we'll overlook this. (The producers should've taken a cue from Leigh's birthday suit costume and only hired sexy scream queen wannabes to play all the cannibal parts, would've been cheaper than buying all those silly costumes!)
The Soap Operatic character development of the “City Slickers In A Remote Cabin” cliché is handled much better in the novel, but the bare bones basics of folks going through a divorce, an angry psycho husband on the way to hurt one of them, kids caught in the middle of it all, video game developers trying to eke out a living, and an ex-Sheriff from the original book (or film that hasn't been made yet!) who has dealt with the clan before are all tackled very briefly here (and it's pretty trivial stuff, unlike in the book, where it's…intriguing.) There's also the nice eye candy of MILF actresses Amy Halbard and Ahna Tessler, who try to save their kids when they're kidnapped by the Hills…uh, Maine…cannibals. Ms. Tessler does some awesome topless shots near the end of the movie that give Leigh Shannan some competition, though Leigh continues flashing us her goodies even when everyone is stuck in a cave and being tortured or assaulted. Unfortunately, the batteries on my DVD remote were already dead when I tried to get back into the PAUSING FOR FEMALE FLESH mode...
Ketchum doesn't skimp on the grue, though., and he must be respected for this. When the tribe of cannibals attacks said City Slickers, there's lots of phony Halloween Express style bloodshed, gutmunching, murder, rape, and chases in the woods to keep things moving. Lots of adults, kids, and lawmen searching for the cannibals bite the dust in the harshly lit woods, and I found myself having a pretty good time.
OFFSPRING is all very predictable, but I really have to give this movie a recommendation despite its extremely bright video look and the chintzy sets it spotlights (the ‘cannibal cave' looks like a darkened Santa Clause igloo at a shopping mall!). It's just a fun-time, guilty pleasure, junk food experience type of horror movie experience. Ketchum plays no favorites with the potential victims and takes no prisoners. Also, the psycho ex-hubby to MILF # 2 proves to be crazier than the cannibal clan members- which made a fun bit in the novel and it's just as engaging and creepy on DVD. Everyone obviously had a great time making this movie, it shows on-screen, they put mucho passion and energy into the project (as multiple behind-the-scenes extras show) so you might as well have fun watching it- just don't take it seriously. Plus, there's Leigh Shannan and Ahna Tessler teasing you throughout, just have some extra batteries for your DVD remote on hand!