As the man behind the “Night of the Living Dead” movies, George A. Romero knows horror. But you cannot trust him for a second about his opinion of “Staunton Hill,” which he describes on the cover as “as scary as it gets.” Why not?
1. “Staunton Hill” is directed by his son, Cameron Romero, who pays back his pop with a line of dialogue about “Dead.”
2. Daddy seems to confuse “gory” with “scary.”
In this ’60-set fright flick, five idealistic students heading for Washington, D.C., hitch a ride in a redneck’s truck in Virginia. The truck breaks down, naturally, and the camp hoofs it to a nearby farm, where they spend the night in the stables, thus affording some lovemakin’ opportunities.
The next morning, the Staunton family that owns the farm is none too pleased to find them there. It’s your typical horror-movie clan “ from “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” to “The Hills Have Eyes” “ comprised of the obese, the handicapped and the mentally challenged, all of whom show them hospitality before the hurt. How long before the students find themselves flunking life at the Stauntons’ hands? I wish I could say “not long at all,” but Romero takes too much time “ a plodding 45 minutes “ to get to the goods.
That entails the bloodletting and skinning of two of the co-eds, shown in gruesome detail, but nonetheless impressive effects. (Ditto for the guy who gets his foot blown off via shotgun.) Like his father, Cameron Romero uses largely unknown actors; while they may be cheap, they’re also not very good. The script hardly challenges them, however, and maybe he felt he had to because of its time period, but Romero casts his film in an ugly, brownish-yellow pallor.
I’m not hostile toward the “Hostel” style of horror filmmaking, where pain reigns supreme, but I do have a problem with movies that are just plain boring, which “Staunton Hill” is. To quote one character, “I don’t want any part of this!”