After two movies, Blue Oyster Cult might consider re-recording their immortal rock fugue classic for contemporary horror as "Don't Fear the Reeker."
More in affiliation with than directly connected to 2005's offbeat gore chiller "Reeker," writer/director/producer Dave Payne revives his gas-masked flesh gouger for another bloody romp in the desert. No Man's Land: The Rise of Reeker is its own slightly campy and frequently moist offshoot.
The original Reeker focused upon a group of partyhead teens shacking up in abandoned desert motel and haunted by visions of chopped and diced travelers courtesy of a foul-smelling entity known as The Reeker. Its impromptu "sequel," (though no real parallels are to be inferred beyond the titular ghoul and settings) attempts a more Twilight Zone-esque storyline where The Reeker, having already transcended the mortal plane by means of execution, literally entraps a handful of players in a gruesome alter-reality.
Introduced as the Death Valley Drifter whose mutilating habits have made him one of the 1970's most-wanted murderers in America, the Drifter is apprehended through the bumbling (and skittish) fortune of Sheriff Reed (the younger version played by David Stanbra, the elder lead character by Robert Pine). Reed immediately enjoys barely-deserved fame and notoriety for having taken down the hedonistic flesh grinder, though as we learn in the story, he has left a family behind.
After dying in the gas chamber, the Death Valley Drifter's soul—in consummate preparation for a far more insidious afterlife—becomes the harbinger of Death with the power to manipulate the real world into something more horrific and with equally deadly implications.
Robert Pine's Sheriff Reed is ready to retire from his post in Death Valley, which is where No Man's Land: The Rise of Reeker begins its core plot as Reed's estranged son Harris (Michael Muhney) is set to take his place. When a trio of casino robbers crashes the isolated desert diner where the central meeting hub of the movie takes place, the movie launches into a cat and mouse game between the desert police and the mixed crew of thieves who stop at the diner because one of their members has been shot. Their scrum results in a gas pump detonation and the torching of the shot looter, Carlos (Wilmer Calderon). Never mind the strange dealings at that dreaded motel nearby...a dead skunk in the bathtub...an open heart patient out of nowhere who suddenly geysers blood from his chest...
It is here where No Man's Land: The Rise of Reeker shifts its tone towards a supernatural air as Harris attempts to find help in an unforgiving terrain and is halted by an unseen barrier. Later, the remaining two robbers Binky (Desmond Askew) and Alex (Stephen Martines) are divided once Binky decides to ditch his partner on the desert roadside. Alex has already dunked himself into a septic tank trying to retrieve car keys his ex-girlfriend Maya (Mircea Monroe) pretend-flushes down the commode in the heat of the previous shootout. Believing himself free, Binky suddenly crashes into the same invisible barrier and comes out of the car with half of his dome missing, setting up for light comic relief in the middle section of the movie.
Here is where No Man's Land: The Rise of Reeker attempts to ruse its audience as The Reeker makes in-and-out hazy appearances where he blow-torches, guts, dismembers and head drills the cast before he is taken out in a so-so kill-off sequence. Where the plot succeeds is its parallel to the real world where everyone Reeker has killed in his own crazed and caged world have died in real-time with reasonable death explanations to coincide with Reeker's brutal fantasy realm, slightly akin to the Final Destination films.
However, is it practical to say Harris has the life sustenance dynamic of a video game character since he's revived from death not once but twice from a passing-through doctor (Valerie Cruz)? Head trauma and all, alternate reality and all, Harris almost never looks worse for wear and it's hard to buy into the fact he lives while everyone else save for one dies.
Hang out if you dare for a confusing ending-to-the-ending and the implication of psychosomatic behavior of another person as the conjuring factor to the entire Reeker saga. Not that it's altogether pliable and certainly not even necessary considering Dave Payne could've rolled the credits immediately after the body count was explained and tagged.
At the very least, Payne has begun a franchise for himself with the quite creepy Reeker (played by Ben Gunther this time) who in the first sequence painfully runs over a dusty hitcher and slices out his tongue with effective discomfort and then bulldozes his victims Freddy Kruger style minus the gabby one-liners and the striped sweater. It's not called The Rise of Reeker for nothing, apparently...