THE KILLING GROUNDS is a straight-to-video adventure opus populated by some of the dumbest characters in screen history.
After stealing a fortune in gold, Vincent (Courtney Gaines) reluctantly allows two of his partners in the heist to fly the loot across the Mexican border; they will rendezvous later. The two men are killed when their plane crashes. Later, Vincent recruits another comrade from the heist, Art
(Anthony Michael Hall), to find out infromation about the whereabouts of the plane.
Meanwhile, bickering couple Della (Priscilla Barnes) and Mel Desordo (Charles Rocket) are on a hiking trip with guide Ned (Rodney A. Grant). They meet Janice (Cynthia Geary), who, after a lengthy search, has discovered the wreckage of the plane. After they help her bury the corpses from the plane,
it is revealed that Janice is a cop whose husband was on the plane. Ned subsequently witnesses Janice returning to the wreckage and discovering the gold. The group then begins to bicker about ownership of the gold, with Janice eventually agreeing to share the spoils with the hikers and their
guide. Realizing that someone will eventually come for the fortune, they decide to bury it. The group then encounters Vincent and Art, who discover some of the gold in Mel's pack, which results in a confrontation in which Vincent kills Janice. Later, Vincent rapes Mel, who finally divulges the
gold's location. While carrying the treasure down the mountain, Ned attempts to escape. Art pursues him, and the two men wind up killing each other. Della and Mel escape Vincent and hide the gold in their truck's spare gas tank, but Vincent catches up to them and kills Mel. Della backs the truck
over Vincent, but he survives and strangles her at a truck stop. A cop appears and kills Vincent. With all the principals now dead, the truck containing the gold is towed to a junkyard.
Though it's not clear whether the moviemakers were intending to amuse, THE KILLING GROUNDS frequently stumbles into the area of being so-bad-it's-good. Shot entirely in picturesque Big Bear, California, the film looks great--until the characters begin to mar the scenery. As played by Courtney
Gaines, Vincent is a ridiculous villain who registers as a cross between Joe Pesci in HOME ALONE (1990) and the mutant hillbilly of DELIVERANCE (1972). Everything he says comes off as a threat ("If you so much as pass wind..."), but Gaines's delivery is comic rather than menacing. With the
exception of Art, the characters are complete morons who fail to elicit any sympathy from the viewer. You in fact want this band of misfits to meet their more-than-predictable ends--especially the supremely annoying Della and Mel. Hall surprisingly plays above the material, contributing some of
the best work he's done since his Brat Pack banner days of the 1980s. This unfortunately is not enough to save the film--the script's predictability mitigates against any kind of quality. Though Kurt Anderson's direction is technically adept, the special effects used to simulate the plane crash
are--like the rest of the film--highly laughable. (Profanity, violence.)
Cast & Details See all »
- Released: 1998
- Rating: R
- Review: THE KILLING GROUNDS is a straight-to-video adventure opus populated by some of the dumbest characters in screen history. After stealing a fortune in gold, Vincent (Courtney Gaines) reluctantly allows two of his partners in the heist to fly the loot across… (more)