The one sure thing about Steve Latshaw’s Return of the Killer Shrews is that it has to be a better movie than the original 1959 snoozer. God help us if it’s not. But it has to be because the original didn’t have John Schneider, Bruce Davison, or bikini babes. Am I right?
The Killer Shrews seems an unlikely film to warrant a sequel, especially half a century later, but stranger things have happened. Steve Latshaw’s low budget tongue-in-cheek sequel to an even lower budget 1959 bad movie classic has even wrangled a few name actors, including “Dukes of Hazzard” star John Schneider, Transylmania beauty Jennifer Lyons, all-purpose character actor Bruce Davison, and original Killer Shrews star James Best, who is probably best remembered for his turn as the Wile E. Coyote-ish Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane on the “Dukes of Hazzard”.
A TV reality show hires Captain Thorne Sherman (James Best) and his boat to cargo supplies to the deserted offshore island they’re using as a filming location. Thorne would have refused the job because he’s been to that island before and still sees it in his nightmares. Unfortunately, as the boat departs, Thorne is too hungover to realize where they’re going, and his first mate Rook (Rick Hurst) needs the money. So they sail — to a place Thorne Sherman never wanted to see again as long as he lived: the island of the Killer Shrews.
As the TV crew and two-fisted animal expert Johnny Reno (John Schneider) shoot their reality show, some of the cast and crew go missing, attacked and eaten in a bloody feeding frenzy by strange creatures. But tough as nails producer Stella, sleazy director Willard and manipulative writer Lenora couldn’t care less about the human cost. They are ruthlessly focused on getting their show in the can, regardless of the body count. Only cute young camera operator Mickey (Jennifer Lyons) and her on-again off-again boyfriend Sam grow concerned about their vanished friends. And Captain Thorne grows uneasy. Only he knows that the island holds hidden danger. The place is crawling with giant Killer Shrews, the result of a 50-year-old experiment gone terribly wrong.
No one is prepared when the Killer Shrews attack, devouring everything in their path! Thorne moves the panicked and blood-spattered survivors to a safe house – the same scientific compound where the man-eating shrews were spawned half a century ago. Everyone is grateful, but creeping suspicion grows. How does Thorne know about this place? And what is his connection to the Killer Shrews?
But these questions can wait. The shrews are fast and ferocious, able to strip flesh from their screaming victims in seconds. And they are ready to attack – now! Stella rises to the occasion, taking charge among the bloody carnage. But her heroism leads to her sudden and gory demise, and soon more crew members fall prey to the creatures’ ravenous, slathering jaws. To make matters worse, Jerry, a mysterious castaway, stalks the survivors. Jerry has a strange hold over the ravenous Killer Shrews, and at times he can control the crawling monsters.
Thorne and Jerry share a strange history, a past linked to the horrific flesh-eating Shrews. Now Jerry is targeting Thorne for bloody vengeance, and no one is safe from the dangerously insane castaway. Fleeing the relentless carnivorous shrews, Mickey takes refuge in a cave. But her safe haven turns to shocking horror when Mickey is trapped by Jerry. Sam braves the hordes of flesh-eating monsters to rescue Mickey from the madman’s lair, but Jerry gets the upper hand. On this island it’s eat or be eaten, and Jerry decides who is hunter and who is prey.
As the number of survivors dwindle, they must overcome their differences to avoid getting eaten alive. But before Thorne can get off the island, he must face his horrific past — and a final showdown with Jerry. Time is running out for the survivors to get off the island before the voracious monsters turn them all into bloody Shrew bait.
The only real knock against this unlikely sequel I suspect a lot of people familiar with the original are going to have is that the killer shrews are all-CGI creations this time. The main reason the 1959 version continues to be an enduring bad movie classic stems from the producers back then coming up with the ridiculous idea to dress dogs up in costumes designed to make them look like vicious rats. The computer generated shrews don’t look any more realistic and lack the primitive charm of the costumed canines. Then again, if they had computer effects back in 1959, this is exactly what the killer shrews would have looked like.
Undead Backbrain (via Avery Guerra) brings us the exclusive first trailer for Return of the Killer Shrews. If you’re a fan of classic campy b-movies, then you owe it to yourself to check it out.
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