dying breedLionsgate / After Dark Films

“Simple Simon met the Pie Man, playing with a knife. Said Simple Simon to the Pie Man, ‘Will you take my life?'”

On a quest to find a rare tiger, four adventurers in Tasmania enter an isolated township named Sarah, once the hideout for an infamous cannibal called “The Pieman.” The four hunters suddenly become the hunted as they discover that the township still upholds its cannibalistic heritage, and needs fresh “stock” to breed.

Okay, right off the bat, I have to ask: Who designed the cover art for the After Dark DVD series release of Dying Breed? I’m morbidly curious as to what kind of mind could take the blurb you just read up there, taken from the back of the DVD case itself (assuming you read that part of the reviews), and make the logistical leap to “eyeball in a martini glass”. Not exactly the first things my mind conjures up when I read about camping trips, Tasmania and cannibals. And after watching Dying Breed, I can fully report that there is not one martini glass to be found in the movie. Nor any disembodied eyeballs, come to think of it. Mind you, the Australian release has three different covers, all of which nail the content of the movie visually. Unfortunately, since I dwell here in the States, and I like to remain consistent with the cover art of the version I watch and review, the “shaken not stirred” cover is used in this posting. But, I digress.

Dying Breed falls somewhere in the Murderous Cannibal Rednecks territory, which is on the lower level of the list of horror genre movies I like. To give you an idea of how I view these types of movies, let me once again use food analogies (since I’m so very good at those): If slashers like Halloween and Friday The 13th are the McDonald’s type burgers, then movies like Dying Breed are the kind of microwavable “burgers” you find at gas stations and truck stops. Edible in a pinch, and sometimes they taste decent, but nothing you’d want to base a diet on.

And like those processed “meat” patties with questionable nutritional value, Dying Breed was surprisingly tasty for an exploitation flick. Mind you, it can easily be described as “Deliverance meets Wolf Creek” (especially that last one, as one of the stars of that movie is in this), and the story itself is the standard “young people go camping, run across a town of inbred cannibal rednecks, young people find themselves hunted by said inbred cannibal rednecks” that we’ve seen in other movies of this kind, complete with a “twist” ending that can be deduced around the opening credit sequence.

The scenery shots are just gorgeous, taking advantage of Tasmania’s natural beauty. I’m a sucker for forests and rivers, really. And the forest scenes were used to good effect for the tense stalking scenes. And, there was a nice tie-in to Alexander “The Pieman” Pearce, a cannibalistic murderer that was held on Tasmania (then known as Van Diemen’s Land) when it was still a British penal colony. There’s kind of a wasted side story about finding the elusive Tasmanian Tiger…elusive because they’ve been extinct since the early 20th Century. For a bit, I was hoping the movie would just throw convention to the wind and just make the local cannibal rednecks Tasmanian were-tigers. That would have been one heck of a twist. But, no…merely an allusion to being descendants of The Pieman.

Despite being one of the better made movies of its subgenre, Dying Breed lacked any characters that I could feel empathy for–the protagonists were all annoying jerks…especially the one named Jack, which may or may not have had a passing resemblance to Jack Black. Regardless, Dying Breed is good for a rental some night if you’re looking to supplement movies like Wrong Turn and Don’t Go Into The Woods.