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Turistas (Unrated DVD)

By Cole Smithey

Riding the wave of horror movies populated with American travelers preyed upon by torturing crazies, "Turistas" plays its suspense trump card as the first American film shot entirely in Brazil. Alex (Josh Duhamel) and his sister Bea (Olivia Wilde) are derailed from their sightseeing plans, with their friend Amy (Beau Garrett), when their tour bus goes over the side of one of Brazil’s lush mountains. The trio barely escapes the catastrophe, along with their fellow passengers, but the fate that awaits them is no less shocking. A local renegade doctor has committed his life to capturing foreign visitors from whom he steals internal organs to give to needy natives. Director John Stockwell ("Blue Crush") electrifies the barbed wire horror with gut-wrenching suspense that attends the painful trajectory for several characters.

The three travelers buddy up with fellow traveler Pru and British vagabonds Finn and Liam before descending to an idyllic beach equipped with a simple bar and disco. During an evening of drinking, dancing and sex, the group are drugged and robbed of all their possessions. Kiko, an ostensibly compassionate villager, comes to the embattled group’s aid when he offers to lead them through the jungle to a house where they will be safe from the polarized community that wants to kill them.

Still and all, Kiko leads the throng to the operating room of the evil Dr. Zamora (Miguel Lunardi) who steals the movie with a blood-curdling monologue of malice while removing the kidneys and liver, sans anesthetic, of one female victim. The Grand Guignol torture scene is notable for its ideologically driven theme, with Lunardi channeling the diabolical Vincent Price in one of his finer moments. Revenge is in the eye, and hands, of the torturer.

The DVD contains the R-rated version and the unrated versions on opposite sides of the disc. The unrated version is a couple of minutes longer with a little more nudity and gore than the R-rated version. While the differences are slight, I’d recommend the unrated over the rated version for maximum fright.

The special features section consists of ten inconsequential deleted scenes and an equally disposable alternate ending that seems more like a deleted scene than an ending. However, things get interesting on an off-the-cuff commentary track (on the rated version only) by director John Stockwell and executive co-producer Kent Kubena with the two men overlapping candid behind-the-scene remarks about shooting the film, the cast, crew and beautiful Brazilian locations. Of particular interest for make-up special effects fans is the ten-minute featurette "The Bloody Truth: Behind The Special Make Up Effects" where the effects team explain the hidden secrets behind the gory elements of the movie. Spanish and French language options are available, as are English and Spanish subtitles. Aspect ratio is 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen, with sound processed in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround and Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround.

(Movie: B- / DVD Features: B) (20th Century Fox)

April 9, 2007 in Horror | Permalink