ROUTE 666

Route 666

ROUTE 666 (2001)

IMDb Rating: 4.2 / 10

Tagline: One way in, no way out

The middle of nowhere is a common a feature of many a horror movie.

Whether it’s the ghoul-ridden woods of The Evil Dead or the vacuum of deep space in Alien, the concept of isolation- abandoned to the mercy of natural elements and unnatural evil, is a terrifying one.

However, after enduring Route 666, the idea of being scared and alone, and victim of some gut-churning nastiness would be a welcome relief.

Tasked with transporting a mafia informer cross-country to face trial for crimes against cliché, a group of federal agents and sheriff’s deputies take a mysterious shortcut on a long abandoned desert road. However, Route 666 is prowled by a quartet of marauding zombies, the spirits of a prison chain gang who died years earlier.

Route 666

'Hold still...so I can kill you'

It doesn’t take a portly Native American shaman to tell us that we’re in trouble here… although gloriously, that does actually happen.

And so it’s left to Lou Diamond Phillips to eschew the use of several working vehicles to just, you know, drive away to safety, and instead lead this disparate, deseprate band in a defence against the undead… in a fight to the death.

 

Hands up if you can spot the flaw here.

Hands down if you only spotted one.

GASP! At the brow-furrowing hero’s secret past.

WINCE! At the wise-ass comments of the sassy black prisoner.

YAWN! At the mangled speech patterns of the Russian mafia honcho.

CRINGE! At the latent racism of the good ol’ boy local cops.

Delightfully, no testicle-shrivelling standard is left knowingly un-hammered.

Route 666

"I wouldn't stand behind me if I were you"

And either Lou Diamond Phillips is the world’s greatest smell-the-fart actor or this particular crew was the most flatulent in cinema history.

Other than a few half-remembered faces from bit-part TV work, the only other ‘star’ that Route 666 can boast is Lori Petty. Her turn as the spunky surfer chick who almost inspires Keanu Reeves to emote onscreen in Point Break (Crapula favourite and arguably the greatest Bad Film ever made) was promptly followed by a brutal career nosedive, the impact of which might account for her bizarre appearance.

Together, Petty and Phillips are not only our last hope against an army of the undead, they’re also a pretty good advert for the horrors of cosmetic surgery. The first appearance of Lou Diamond Phillips’ cellophane-smooth visage is met with cries of “Whoa- what happened to him?”

Lori Petty’s arrival is greeted with a scramble for a cushion to hide behind.

At times, when they’re together onscreen it’s like they’re engaged in a tight face-off. If only their expressions could provide some clue as to who has the upper hand. But then they’re working from a script that doesn’t contain anything worth expressing so ultimately, it’s not a huge loss.

In a plot that lurches horribly between cringing slapstick comedy, grisly violence and limp soft core sexiness that wouldn’t shame a nun, there’s barely any consistency of tone or theme. Or sense. Or point.

Route 666

'That unholy stench is just my acting'

The zombies seem to possess the ability to materialize literally out of the asphalt whenever the story finds itself too excruciating to continue. Of course, this happens often.

But then the flying visits made by the baddies bring with them a disturbingly maniacal camera style that’s akin to a late stage Parkinson’s sufferer trying to film Tigger from an inverted rollercoaster. So, both literally and figuratively, Route 666 is completely unwatchable.

A tip of the hat to you all.

The fit-inducing visuals are just one of many techniques thrown in specifically to antagonise the viewer. Sometimes it’s characters that are just too stupid to be credible (a pair of marshals who handcuff their prisoner to a car door while they make sweet, clammy love on the brown vinyl of the back seat for example). Other times, it’s the wanton disregard of logic (that same prisoner managing to fend off mutant killers while still handcuffed to that same car. Twice). Chuck in an incongruously upbeat ending and the gloriously monikered supporting actress, Mercedes Colon, and this is a film that both bores and baffles.

Route 666 is meant to be a fast paced, slice-and-dice zombie road movie. Sadly, it contains all the drama and excitement of a slow-moving bottleneck on the A50 approaching Uttoxeter.

One Comment

  1. Wow, whoever did Lou’s face lift must have their work cut out. Trying to stretch his skin back over that brow and cheekbones probably took one hell of an effort.

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