Directed by: Po-Chih Leong
6 Movies – 1 Box – 3 Double sided discs. Six rather randomly selected films. I mean, you’d assume that these films would be part of the same genre, or share at least some similarity, but instead the connection is rather vague. Given the title of the collection refers to ‘The Stars’, the suggestion is that these films showcase the cream of Hollywood acting talent. Considering the films feature Judd Nelson, Phil Collins, Matt LeBlanc, Bob Hoskins, Christopher Eccleston and Marc Warren, you could make an argument about the level of star quality. The first film I’m covering from The Stars Collection is ‘Return to Cabin by the Lake’, the long awaited (ha!) sequel to ‘Cabin by the Lake’.
I have not seen ‘Cabin by the Lake’, but essentially the sequel is a similar story to ‘Scream 3’, a film within a film, as Hollywood looks to cash in on a real life tragedy by filming at the site of the original murders, reopening several old wounds in the process. The opening scene could almost be taken from one of those late night softcore channel 5 films that usually starred Gene Simmons wife. Laura and Alan are talking about the dilemma between money and art in Hollywood screenwriting on a boat. Laura compliments Alan, and loves how he writes his characters, because you never knew who they were or what they were thinking.
Alan then bounds Laura in vines, and if a new viewer arrived at this point they’d wonder if it was a XXX parody of Batman & Robin. He reveals himself to be Stanley Caldwell and throws Laura into the lake. She struggles to the surface, and then we see that the vines are rooted to a heavy stone plant pot, Alan throws the pot overboard and it anchors Laura down to the bottom, where she drowns. Elaborate way of killing someone, I must say, the kind of way only a frustrated brewing psychopath at Homebase might think up as he plots against his employers for sticking him outside with hundreds of fence panels and polystyrene trays of chrysanthemums.
The film then moves onto the set of ‘Cabin in the Woods’, the director is flamboyant and egocentric, a sensible looking brunette named Alison is rewriting the script, the cast are a bunch of dizzy airheads and there is a lot of tension on set. A strange bearded guy who looks like a hillbilly Rob Zombie is milling around, getting in everyone’s way. Again, it is the master of disguise Stanley Caldwell, doing a bit of reconnaissance. What happens next is predictably sinister, Caldwell picks up an actor called JC Reddick, nephew of a rich uncle financing the film, he drugs Reddick, bumps him off and assumes his identity. As JC, Caldwell is able to take over the film, dealing with those who get in his way, one by one.
I think my favourite scene in the film is the cabin showdown between Alison and Caldwell. Caldwell finds himself in a bathtub; Alison is armed with a hairdryer, pointing it as if it is a Walther PPK. Caldwell says to Alison “You have the power now”; Alison then throws the hairdryer into the bathwater and electrocutes Caldwell. The special effects budget then goes into overdrive as blinding blue shock waves flash brightly.
Judd Nelson is sullen, and devoid of emotion in his portrayal of Stanley Caldwell, and it seems his emotional range hasn’t developed much since the days when he was bad boy John Bender in ‘The Breakfast Club’. Though Nelson has already played a serial killer before in the film ‘Relentless’…
if you’ve seen that film then you’d say that he’s merely replicating that performance, cold, calculating, emotionless…. and shockingly one dimensional.
‘Return to Cabin by the Lake’ is a poor TV movie, sprinkled with a few notable sporadic funny moments that acknowledge its faults.