Salvage (originally titled Gruesome) is one of my favorite horror stories of this era. It was written and directed by the film-making brothers Joshua and Jeffrey Crook and was released straight to DVD in 2006. The movie stars Lauren Currie Lewis as Claire Parker, a 19 year-old who gets murdered over and over again in an endless loop by some weird guy named Duke Desmond. I don't know why, but that name is really funny to me. Say it out loud for yourself. Duke Desmond.
I probably would have never come across this movie if my wife hadn't bought me one of those Horror Movie Collections in the $5 bin at Walmart. You know, those horror collections featuring low budget movies? Of the movies in the collection, Salvage was the only real winner and the rest were forgettable. It's not on the level of recent horror movies like The Ring, Drag Me To Hell or Insidious. But it does not deserve to be in the $5 bin where no one will find it. I can see what the Crook brothers were trying to accomplish. And I have to give them credit. In this writer's opinion, they pulled it off. Or at least to the best degree they could during filming. I think they did a decent job, especially considering this was their first horror film.
"The Only Thing Real Is What You Feel....."
I personally like storylines like this one. To me, Salvage is a low-budget cross between A Nightmare On Elm Street and an episode of Tales From The Crypt called Whirlpool. The Elm Street comparison comes from the fact that Claire is always haunted by Duke. Duke doesn't have the powers and creativity of Freddie Krueger, but he's insistent on murdering her and never fails to succeed. Tales From The Crypt is one of my favorite shows. In an episode from Season 6 called Whirlpool, a woman is in an endless loop where she is always gunned down by the police. It doesn't matter how much she tries to avoid it; the story ends with her laying in a pool of her own blood courtesy of the cops. Once she dies, she wakes up and relives the nightmare again. Salvage has the same concept.
One of the fun things about Salvage is the music. Apparently the producers couldn't afford the real Evanescence, so they hired a sound-a-like band named Devola. Their lead singer sounds eerily similar to Evanescence's lead singer, Amy Lee. Don't believe me? Watch the following scene from the movie and listen to the music starting from 6:00 onward.
Now back to the movie. Chris Ferry does a good job as the badass Duke Desmond. (Gawd I love that name!!) He's creepy and a bit slow, but insistent on killing you. To elaborate, when I say "slow," I mean both mentally and physically. Mentally, the guy isn't all there, but he isn't rushing for the kill either. The few times Claire outsmarts him or prolongs her lifespan, it doesn't bother Duke because he knows he'll get her eventually anyway. To me that's the scariest thing about Duke. You and he both know that he's going to kill you and there's nothing you can do to stop him. So Duke decides not to break a sweat and enjoys watching Claire lose her mind as he patiently pursues. If Duke was after me I'd whoop his ass. I interviewed and sparred with former Heavyweight Champion Joe Frazier's son Marvis, so I know a thing or two about smashing you on the chin with a left hook. But Claire is more vulnerable, being a 105-pound girl and all. And with her boyfriend constantly getting killed before her, she's always left alone with Mr. Desmond to meet her horrible fate. Damn.
Other than Jimmy, there's not much to laugh at in this movie and that's what I like. The movie attempts to be real horror. The suspense throughout is pretty good. Why is Duke repeatedly killing Claire? Who is he? Is he dead? Is Claire really dead? Why does Claire's mom stand around in the basement in the dark like a moron? (I'm serious...she does this quite often). What are the police hiding? What's going on?
We finally find out in the end that "Claire" is really Duke, being punished for all eternity for his sins. He murdered Claire and Jimmy, so he takes the form of Claire and is murdered by a demon version of Duke over and over, each time feeling the horrific pain that Claire felt. It's not a hard twist to figure out because clues are scattered throughout the movie.
All in all this wasn't a bad film. You've got a villain with a badass name (Duke Desmond). You also get background music from a very Evanescence-inspired rock band and a decent amount of suspense. To me, the movie was interesting throughout. In each of Claire's "lives," you know that Duke is going to somehow catch her and rip her face off in her basement, but you don't know how they will arrive at that screamish moment. It's different each time. Furthermore, Claire's death is one of the most brutal I've seen in any movie. Someone pinning you down, cutting you around your face and then violently ripping it off??!! You scream and scream and scream your final screams as loud as you can but no one can hear you because you're in a basement? That's horrific and very sad because Claire seemed like a nice girl and didn't deserve to die, especially like that. Geez. But that's a good horror story for you. You're supposed to walk away feeling disturbed.
Also, Lauren Currie Lewis is very easy on the eyes. Because of these factors, I have to give Salvage 6 out of 10 stars. Far from a masterpiece but it doesn't deserve to be overlooked the way it is. Check out the trailer for the film below.
****** Six Stars Out Of Ten