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Artisan Home Entertainment presents
Junior (aka Engine Trouble) (2003)

"Children aren't always the blessing they're supposed to be."
- Robert (Bob Dougherty)

Review By: Rich Rosell   
Published: August 19, 2003

Stars: Cecelia Bergqvist, Marlene Simons, Bob Dougherty
Other Stars: Marcel Romeijn, Christa De Vries
Director: Mark Ickx

MPAA Rating: R for strong violence/gore and language
Run Time: 01h:32m:10s
Release Date: August 19, 2003
UPC: 012236142898
Genre: horror

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B- C+C-B- C

DVD Review

This 2002 Belgium-made low-budget horror film from director Marc Ickx (so far his one and only) appears to want desperately to channel the same vibe as major genre films as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre or The Last House On The Left. In the same vein as those two horror classics, Junior (or Engine Trouble, as it was known in Europe) is a grisly, sometimes unpleasant film, full of throat slashings, decapitations, women in peril, a crazed killer, and a perfectly downbeat storyline.

The film opens with a moody, almost gothic, Hammer films-like prologue that is a far cry in tone from what is to come, and whether that was intentional on Ickx's part is anybody's guess. Once the prologue passes (its connection to the plot is tied in later), Junior kicks in quickly to the main event, where two young women (Cecelia Bergqvist and Marlene Simons) are on holiday in the country when their car breaks down in, where else, the middle of nowhere. In true horror movie fashion, one of the women, Simons' Sandra, decides to hike back to a gas station they stopped at a few miles back. The viewer knows that's a bad idea, because when they stopped there earlier, Bergqvist's Rebecca (the default heroine) was witness to some bizarre activities, which included the sounds of a snarling, growling creature behind a locked door.

From the moment Sandra walks back to the gas station, Junior descends into the aforementioned The Last House on the Left and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre territory, as Rebecca spends the remainder of the film fighting for her life against a sickle-wielding masked killer. In one of the weirder sequences, Rebecca has an unusually long and drawn-out scene where she is trapped in her car in the middle of a desolate field, with the as yet unseen psycho lurking outside, shaking the car and going scritchy-scratch on the roof with his curved sickle. The scene goes from creepy to stupid and then back to creepy before it takes a sharp left into silly, along with a couple of glaring continuity errors and some dopey leaping and twirling by the killer.

The payoff to this whole affair (Who is Junior? What does he want?) is actually pretty satisfactory, but it almost happens too soon, and the title nutjob becomes just a pale variation on Leatherface or his ilk. There is certainly an adequate amount of blood, screaming, and severed heads (don't miss the squirmy decapitation scene that occurs in Junior's lair) to give this the feeling and appearance of a "serious" horror film. Ickx tries hard, and succeeds on occasion, but as a whole, Junior becomes more than a little repetitive and derivative during its final act.

Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: C+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Rationo

Image Transfer Review: While a widescreen presentation is generally preferred, even a tightly cropped 1.33:1 full-frame transfer like this one would suffice if it were a good one. Or at least better than this one. Once you get past the recurring nicks and grain, you're left with a dark, dark film with very poor black levels that make the potentially eerie sequences in Junior's lair seem just difficult to follow. Colors fare about the same, looking iffy and mostly washed out, with pale fleshtones.

Image Transfer Grade: C-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: The differences between the 5.1 surround track and the 2.0 stereo track appear to be surprisingly minimal, which should give you an idea about the fidelity range of either mix. Not much in the way of rear channel cues on the 5.1 track, and it doesn't do much to dilute the harshness of the ever present screaming going on in this film. Dialogue is understandable, but not exceptional by any means.

Serviceable, but very plain.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 20 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
4 Other Trailer(s) featuring Bloody Murder 2, Deadly Species, Legion of the Dead, Frost: Portrait of a Vampire
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Photo Gallery
Extras Review: This release will never be accused of having too many extras, as Artisan has only included five trailers (Junior, Bloody Murder 2, Deadly Species, Legion of the Dead, Frost: Portrait of a Vampire) and a brief Photo Gallery of 11 images.

The disc is cut into 20 chapters, and includes subtitles in English and Spanish.

Extras Grade: C


Final Comments

If you enjoy severed heads and women screaming, Junior just might take the edge off your lazy Saturday afternoon. It has some truly suspenseful moments, counterbalanced by just as many scenes that beat the suspense like a dead horse. We get it: he's crazy and he has a sickle.

From the Pet Peeve Department:
Here's another DVD where the cover art image of the killer doesn't appear anywhere in the film. No pick axe, no orange jumpsuit, no night vision goggles. Who is that guy on the cover? Beats me.


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