CarousHELL: Ride AND Die!
Dir: Steve Rudzinski
Release Date: 2016
“A carousel unicorn breaks free from his carnival hell and embarks on a bloody rampage of revenge on humanity"
It should come as no surprise that this movie has been on my radar for some time but it galloped to the top of my priority list when I found out from the Director that there is now a CarousHELL trilogy!
Rest assured, I will be covering all 3 in due course but only a raving lunatic would dive in anywhere else but the OG. For now, I shall start at the beginning.
Though, this movie is from 2016, I shall endeavour to keep it as spoiler free as I can so as not to ruin any of the subtle and complex plot threads.....
Maybe not actually.
With this premise, you'll either watch it or you won't. There is no in between.
Check out the trailer!
Saddle up and let's do this.
The movie opens with a voice over narration ruing their very existence. Stuck in a dead-end job, same old, same old, day in and day out and hating every minute of it.
This seemingly familiar lament is made somewhat unique by the fact it is coming from a sentient carousel unicorn called Duke and he works at the Tarnation Corral Amusement Park.
But not for much longer...
Fun Fact: Duke is wonderfully voiced by Steve Rimpici who has lent his vocal talents to many film projects and video-games.
Funner Fact: Steve Rimpici is a member of High IQ group, Mensa
We meet Laurie, played by the beautiful Se Marie Volk who is tasked, by her stripper/exotic dancer mother, with looking after her younger brother, affectionately known as Lunchbox.
What better way to spend the day than down at the Tarnation Corral?
Obviously it turns out that anything would have been better than that, but you wouldn't have a film without it.
Lunchbox rides on the back of Duke, wiping his sneeze all over his face and depositing the contents of his nose in his eyes. Bloody kids. Isn't it always their fault?
Duke has had enough and just ups and leaves in a stunningly flawless CGI floating motion. Thankfully, we forego such effects for the remainder of the movie and the fun is about to really start.
Jock-o the clown finds out the hard way not to trash talk an angry carousel Unicorn as does another surprise early casualty.
A horn through the throat and a machete to the back of the head, respectively.
Fun Fact: I was pleasantly surprised by the unexpectedness of some of the deaths. Characters who would usually survive longer or totally in these movies, just slaughtered along the way.
"How about a ride.... TO HELL!"
Now you can be in charge of security..... IN HELL!"
These classic one-liners were most appreciated with more to follow.
Fun fact aside, we do get some incidental characters who are just there for the killing. It happens frequently and I welcome it.
Upon discovering the bodies, the big, foam-headed mascot of the park, Cowboy Cool, arrives, seems to immediately know what's going on and who is behind it, and roots out his old 6-shooter to take care of business.
A picnic couple fall foul next as their seemingly idyllic getaway is interrupted by Duke suddenly just being in the field next to them.
The guy gets some inexplicable, but always welcome, Shuriken Ninja Stars to the back while the girl gets chased and graphically garrotted with a wire in a very nice effect.
How perfect would that be on your acting resume? Chased and garrotted to death by a killer carousel unicorn. YOU GOT THE JOB, BUDDY!! YOU GOT THE JOB!
Personally, I loved that scene.
"Now you can have a picnic...IN HELL!"
I really did enjoy this catchphrase and hoped it would continue for each kill but it was self referenced by Duke as too repetitive and, sadly, not used again.
Having to look after Lunchbox (she could look after mine any day), Laurie takes him to the party she had planned to go to that evening. IN HELL!
Sadly not, it's at Sarah's house.
Sarah's boyfriend, Preston, is handing out cheap necklaces in return for being shown tits (A trick I made a note of in case I ever get invited to a party. I won't). This tactic works as well by the way. Not on everyone, granted, but his score is pretty impressive
Incidentally, Duke's basic plan is to kill 'Lunchbox' and seemingly anyone else who gets in his way. Sorry, I know I said I wouldn't spoil the subtle and complex plot.
We get some casual kills along the way of Duke trying to infiltrate the party without being noticed.
A great flip-top head death from the horn to the face which made me laugh out loud, as sudden as it was, and a double disembowelment, the logistics of which I am still not 100% certain.
We also get Joe, the pizza delivery guy who ups the cheese and ham content higher than his deep pan toppings.
Fun Fact: Director and co-writer, Steve Rudzinski plays Joe in an uncredited role. A massively featured uncredited role at that.
Duke's plan of not arousing suspicion is forgotten as they find him, bring him inside and treat us to a drinking montage.
While suspicions appear not to be aroused, Sarah sure as HELL is and we get the most confusingly erotic sex scene I've witnessed in a while. No further comment. Your Honour.
It doesn't end well, who could have guessed, and in quick succession we get a trampling to death, another horn goring (as opposed the gore horning we just witnessed) and a juicy biting out of a throat.
Preston bears witness and it's all HELL breaking loose
"Looks like the unicorn is out of the bag!"
Duke now inexplicably 'reigns (reins)' a volley of arrows at the party goers and slams his hoof through the face of one, annoying yet believable, cliché before dispatching a passing serial killer with an axe.
Upon realising they can't escape, the survivors lock down the house which gives us a nice visual gag sequence and Cowboy Cool turns up again to save the day! Yeeeehaaaw!!
We are treated to a multiple pizza cutter attack to the eye as Cowboy Cool fails to save anything whatsoever. Another nice visual gag as he searches high (plains drifter) and low for Duke to no avail.
"Yippee ki-yay, motherfucker!", gets a run out as sadly, Cowboy Cool pays for his lack of tracking skills when he needed them most.
The title of the film gets a mention in the dialogue, which is always one for the Bingo card, and suddenly, out of the blue, we get laser eyes from Duke. Laser fucking eyes!
A good-fun face melt is the result of those lasers, which I enjoyed and we are down to one survivor..... or are we?
Cowboy Cool and his trusty lasso rope arrive and save the day. Again.
Now, we all know that unicorns bleed rainbow blood and Duke is no exception as the sixguns of justice finally catch up with him.
Sadly, this appears to be the end for Cowboy Cool (again) as he dies the heroic death he deserves.
Lunchbox however, is just annoyed he has to walk a mile to get home what with everyone else being dead and all.
Luckily, a car comes along and he flags it down.
Unluckily, the car is being driven by Duke who ploughs straight into him and then slowly reverses back over him in gloriously gory detail.
We get a final monologue from Duke saying he will continue his kill spree, that there's others out there like him, mentions the name of the movie again, and drives off.
Pretty much everything you need to set up a sequel.
Mid credits scene: Laurie's stripper/exotic dancer mother arrives at the party for a paid gig only to discover the bloodshed.
Upon hearing a noise upstairs, she heads on up to look for a survivor.
What happens next is perfect sequel clickbait.
As is the end of this review.....
Fun Fact: We also get a heart-breaking post credits scene, so do stick around
Bottom line is that this was a lot of fun. An enjoyably ridiculous movie which stays fun enough to not get annoying.
It never ventures into the 'look how crazy this shit is' territory, which is always a plus point, but it sits comfortably in its own zone of preposterous mayhem.
Fun dialogue, good visual gags and plenty of enjoyable gore. All good, right?
Looking forward to getting hold of the next one in the series.
Fun Fact: This movie is now available on Tubi for those lucky enough to have access to that, free with ads on Plex or to rent on Apple TV. Of course, it is also available on Blu-Ray on both single movie format and on a trilogy boxset
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It's a close one, this. Obviously Duke is great and gets most of the good lines but I liked Cowboy Cool just being a real Cowboy, albeit with a massive foam head. I appreciated the fact that it was never mentioned and he never took it off or dropped character.
When Duke took an incidental character's face off without saying a word. That character got about 5 seconds of screen time
Duke: "I'm going to kill that fat fuck!"
The wire cutting through the throat I think, as that is just a little diversion into the nasty, but there were quite a few contenders on the more playful side.