Television Review: Can You Survive A Horror Movie?
· Jesse Cook
· Anthony Marks
· Annie Unnold
· Morgan West
by Dennis Russo
Published: July 13, 2012
It's funny, but it seemed to me when I started watching this show that I must have seen something like this before; that with so many countless horror films out there, someone must have done a show like this before now. Try as I might though, I couldn't remember seeing any.
On the one hand "Can You Survive a Horror Movie?" is a show that teaches survival tricks, should we find ourselves in situations similar to some of our favorite Hollywood horror movie scenarios. On the other hand, it's sort of a game show similar to Fear Factor. Instead of contestants, the show's hosts, Anthony Marks ("Remains"), Annie Unnold (Celebrity Ghost Stories), and Morgan West ("Dead Souls") compete in several challenges inspired by some of our favorite horror movies to see if they would survive.
The show takes part in that most iconic of all horror film campgrounds, Camp Crystal Lake, home to the original "Friday the 13th" movie. Here the hosts with the help of "experts" such as doctors, psychologists, survivalists, "Scream Queens" and even a past editor of Fangoria magazine ask and try to answer questions such as:
"Is it possible to fight and survive a Zombie attack?"
"Can someone really live on a diet of blood like a vampire?
"Can a human being survive being buried alive?"
Out of the gate, my first thoughts were that the hosts were a little stiff and not very comfortable acting with each other yet. I found it difficult to take seriously when people who probably never acted together before try to come off as if they been a team for years. The first scenario they explore is surviving a zombie attack. The host gets several pointers on how to kill a zombie and fight one off, which leads them to their first challenge where they have to wrestle a zombie and take it off its feet before being bitten. This opening sequence was very campy with a "tale of the tape" shown for the "living person" and the zombie, giving the strength/weakness of each combatant. Of course the hosts were fighting a person pretending to be a zombie, which was just over the top fake to me, down to the grunting and moaning of the actor portraying the zombie in the contest.
After this first segment, I was asking myself what did I get myself into. However I am glad to say that it got significantly better from that point forward and remained entertaining and involving to the end. Anthony, Annie and Morgan settled down and got comfortable with each other and their roles as hosts, and really performed as a team the rest of the way.
The show explored many different scenarios, and not all of the topics had a challenge directly associated with it, such as the question of whether it is possible to live on blood alone. The exploration of that question was more from a scientific lecturing perspective, mixed with many gory blood sucking scenes from some of our favorite A-list and B-movie vampire films. I really enjoyed the use of all the movie footage they used throughout the show to good visual effect. It accented what they were doing perfectly, so hats off to the person who chose the footage to use throughout the show.
After the lame zombie wrestling challenge, the challenges got better and some really put our host in the direct path of their fears. From a rat infested maze where Annie had to crawl though on her hands and knees to find a key to unlock the gate to free herself in a certain time, to Anthony being "buried alive" in a coffin and being surprised by having blood (red water) pump in and start filling up the coffin -- and then if that wasn't bad enough... I'm not going to tell you here, you'll have to watch it (and it really freaks him out!).
Other challenges were as I mentioned above something right out of Fear Factor because one of the segments dealt with teaching us that fear is a learned response and the best way to beat our fears is to face them. These challenges were done in a way that that they represented some of our most beloved horror movies. Sometimes it was a race against the clock, putting their faces and mouths in and on things to retrieve a certain iconic movie prop; other times it was just being able to eat certain things that you would see Andrew Zimmern eat in Bizarre Foods. Very cool, and very gross, and very funny. I can't help but laugh out loud when I see someone try to eat something they don't really want to, and then try not gag because they are on camera -- that's real life; no acting there. (Annie is a great sport!)
I thought it was funny in that, just like in the best campy horror movies, there are some suggestive camera angles as well as some off the cuff dialog. (Listen carefully to some of the things Annie says if they don't get muted or overdubbed; real funny!) There is even a segment where the guys take an ice bath and Annie is wearing a bikini because that what's done with a beautiful woman in a horror movie. While that was blatantly done as part of the script, I don't think it was so much so when Annie was going through the maze on her hands and knees in skin tight pants and fairly loose fitting top. When the camera was in front of her, it was pointed right on her face and right down her shirt; and when it was right behind her it was right on her behind!
By the end, I was really amazed by just how much I learned about surviving so many different horror movie scenarios. From "never run away at full speed but at a constant pace when being chased by a slasher, so I don't tire," to "staying away from the middle of a hallway, walk along the wall instead and shuffle my feet with no shoes on so the floor doesn't creak and give me away," and much, much more. Everyone needs to watch this show, just in case. Because you never know!
Summing up, I really enjoyed this outing from the Chiller Channel. I still can't believe this has not been done before, but even if it was I doubt it was done as well as they did this. No, it was not perfect. It started stiffly and the first segment was painful to watch, but it smoothed out quickly and I grew to enjoy the hosts once they got "into" the show. While all three of them ended up playing off of each other well, for me Annie stole the show. She was the most daring, the most "try anything" of the three, and she did it all with a smile and a laugh whether it was at the others' expense or even at herself. Well done Chiller.
"Can You Survive A Horror Movie" is a Chiller Channel Original special that airs Friday, July 13th, at 9pm ET