Murder in the Dark (2013)

MURDER IN THE DARK is the final film of this years 8 Films to Die For lineup that I watched. Overall, this year’s offerings were a strong, well-acted, fun bunch of films, and I enjoyed almost all of them. (I didn’t care for WIND WALKERS at all. I never wrote a review on it because I stopped watching it about thirty minutes in). MURDER IN THE DARK is a tough film to categorize. It has elements of a slasher flick, elements of a mystery, elements of a thriller, and even elements of a psychological thriller. This film also boasts that it was a bit experimental in the way it was filmed. Much of the dialogue was ad-libbed, and if you watch the end credits, the director, Dagen Merrill, explains that each actor didn’t know how the entire story was going to unfold. The actors were given parameters they were to stay within as far as what their characters could/would do and say. Think of MURDER IN THE DARK as a play that is being written as it unfolds.

Murder in the Dark1

We get a multi-cultural cast of tourists as they travel the countryside in Turkey. There’s Ajay (Samrat Chakrabarti), a medical researcher; Ajay’s sister Lilly (Kiran Deol); Luca (Yann Bean), who is from France; Jessica (Murielle Zuker), Luca’s girlfriend; Simone (Simone Tang), a Dutch girl; Solo (Eme Ikwuakor), Simone’s boyfriend; and Matthew (Phil Austin) and Taylor (Mary Kate Wiles), a father and daughter traveling together. The group winds up at the ruins of a medieval Turkish town where they decide to camp for a day or two. That night they play a game of “murder in the dark,” and the next morning one of the group members has apparently taken the game too seriously. One by one, the tourists are murdered. Suspicion immediately falls on Kevin (Luke Arnold), a hitchhiker they picked up on the way to the ruins. Being in the middle of nowhere, no one gets cell reception, and the killer sabotaged their vehicle. So the group is left stranded at the ruins, and it isn’t long before suspicions and accusations start flying.

The casting in MURDER IN THE DARK is fantastic. The entire cast is strong and they each pull off their roles beautifully. This film could have easily fallen into the standard “no one trusts no one” situation, but the writing here strives for more. Whoever the killer is, he/she seems to be removing various organs. Is it for kicks? For an illegal black market ring? The scars left behind on the bodies are so precise that you’d think that would narrow down who the killer is. Nope. It seems everyone in the group has some kind of medical training and background. As the mystery unfolds and becomes more intense, part of the fun here is trying to figure out who the killer is.

Murder in the Dark3

Besides the acting, the scenery is breathtaking. Although the film takes place in Turkey, it was filmed in Italy, and director Merrill makes great use of the location. The beauty of the landscape around them is offset by how isolated they are. It is kind of like trying to admire a sword as it is impaling you!!

The gimmick of the plot and dialogue being ad-libbed isn’t, I must admit, completely successful. There are some gaps in the plot that would have benefitted from a more traditional narrative. I appreciate what Merrill and co-writer Chris Wyatt are doing here, but I found myself wishing the gimmick would end. This has a strong base story and a strong cast, and the film was only hurt by the undying commitment to the ‘experimental style of filming.’ This isn’t to say that MURDER IN THE DARK isn’t enjoyable. It is. I had a lot of fun with it. But there were definitely glaring weak spots that could have been adverted with a more traditional narrative.

Murder in the Dark2

So marks the end of the 2015 8 Films to Die For lineup. This was the strongest year yet from After Dark and I’m really looking forward to seeing what the have to offer in 2016. MURDER IN THE DARK may not be the strongest film in the lineup, but I think you’ll enjoy the mashup of several various genres, the scenery, and the acting. The ending wasn’t completely successful, but I thought it brought everything together nicely. Check this one out.

My Summary:

Director: Dagen Merrill (& co-writer with Chris Wyatt)

Plot: 3 out of 5 stars

Gore: 4.5 out of 10 skulls

Zombie Mayhem: 0 out of 5 brains

Reviewed by Scott Shoyer

Stay Bloody!!!

Murder in the Dark poster

First Glance: After Dark Originals (coming September 2010)

Came across this item on www.shocktillyoudrop.com and find it pretty interesting.  Regular readers know I have a have a love-hate relationship with the After Dark Horrorfest.  The movies that are bad (The Final) are REALLY bad; but the good ones (DreadZombies of Mass DestructionMulberry Street) are REALLY enjoyable.  But I need to respect the people at After Dark for at least offering some original genre movies.  I’d rather watch a crappy original flick than a crappy remake any day!!  I’ve included the original text in it’s entirety.

Source: Ryan Rotten, Managing Editor @ www.shocktillyoudrop.com

[After Dark] Originals has culled eight directors and screenwriters, some familiar, some new to the horror scene and some who have worked with After Dark in the past. And as Solomon describes it, the banner marks a natural evolution for the company.

“During the acquisitions for the past Horrorfests, we’ve worked with so many great young filmmakers and read so many great scripts,” he explains from New York. He’s just returned from Bulgaria where he supervised the finishing touches on an Original production. “There’s always a give and take, you love this, you don’t like that. So why not figure out a way to give some of these guys an opportunity and make eight new films every year? That was the impetus. Take it to the next level. Still do the festival and the acquisitions, but move into the originals.”

The eight films currently in the works will debut in September – and are currently being promoted via flyers enclosed in DVD copies of the films that comprise Horrorfest 4. Another eight films – wave two – roll in July.“We always do eight for whatever reason,” Solomon laughs. “To do all eight – shoot, post-production, market – it takes a year. We haven’t picked the scripts or directors for the next eight, but we need to start now to get into production.”

As for the first wave, not much is known about the films other than the talent involved, so Shock Till You Drop has asked Solomon to break down some of the titles for us.

Scream of the Banshee“We were just in Bulgaria doing the opening sequence set during medieval times. This is one of our co-productions with SyFy. Two of the eight Originals are co-productions with SyFy. We co-developed the stories with them and brought in a writer and they worked with us to pick the filmmaker [in this case Steven Miller of Automaton Transfusion]. They get approval over the cast and work with us. Many of the Horrorfest movies have played on SyFy so they’ve become a good partner. They’ve given us bit more money so that makes it a bigger film. It’s a creature horror film because it’s SyFy. They don’t want just a suspense movie, but it’s really within their mold.”

Husk“I don’t know if you saw the short film [by Brett Simmons], but the feature is an expansion. Traditional horror about kids on a trip who stop in the wrong place and end up going somewhere where something isn’t right. The movie turned out fantastic and is better than the short, I would say. We were in the corn fields of Iowa for about 20 days. It’s intense, well-directed, it’s got a Hitchcock suspense to it but there’s a slasher element you’d find in Texas Chainsaw Massacre. It’s intelligent. There’s nothing in the movie where you go, ‘This is lame. Why did they do that?’ It’s got a great pace. The corn field is such a character in the movie that lends a hold aura of creepiness. The house in the middle of this corn field, they said there was the ghost of a girl in the attic so the crew wouldn’t go up there. I can’t confirm or deny the ghost is true, but it was cool. This film has young guys and a girl, but we changed the final girl aspect of it, I’ll tell you that much.”

Prowl: This is the first one we shot and director Patrik Syverson is great and super-talented. I like the movie. If you saw Rovdyr (Manhunt), it’s got a European feel to it. Here he’s created a vampire subculture that we haven’t seen before. He did it in a raw, European style. It’s not glitzy and overdone. He threw in a nice twist. It turned out very well and I like it because it’s different than the other seven films.”

Re-Kill“It’s a brand new take on a zombie film. It’s in the vein of 28 Days Later in so much that the zombies are in hyper-drive. The virus, we explain, has mutated the people and taken the carnal, hunting instincts of survival. Even though they’re zombies they actually try to hunt you like pack animals. They’re vicious and smart. They come up with simple traps. The movie takes place five years after the outbreak. It’s done docu-style, not like Diary of the Dead, but truly wartime docu-style.

You find out the movie is an episode of a television show, LA COPS, five years after an outbreak that kills 85% of the population. Now they have units that go around to keep the hot zones in check. You follow this unit like a COPS episode, with two camera men. So you get interviews while they’re out on their various calls. What you witness is a possible incident that might start outbreak number two. You’ve even got commercial breaks cut into the film, [like Robocop]. They’re funny because they have to do with how you deal with zombies in the world. Like ‘Have sex, it’s good for him, it’s good for her, it’s good for America. Paid for by the Coalition to Repopulate America.’ Or pills that you take if you’re bitten that can slow down the zombie process so maybe you’ll survive. This one turned out really good. We’ve got shots in this movie with 20 thousand zombies in them. I’m not claiming these are all big movies, but this one is cool.”

The Task“Simon Fellows directed this and it’s a horror angle on a reality show. It’s a game show where a bunch of contestants are put into a supposedly haunted place. They have to spend the night and what’s supposedly haunted is actually haunted. People you thought were fake dying because it’s all a show, might be really dying. There’s a cool twist.”

The second SyFy/After Dark co-production is 51 which begins shooting in a few weeks. Rounding out the other titles there is: Seconds Apart, starring Orlando Jones, and Adam Gierasch’s Fertile Ground.

“The idea,” explains Solomon, “is to do eight different types of horror movies that are representative of the sub-genres. Vampires, zombies, ghosts, there’s a big of cross-over too. The scripts are good to begin with and we’re making stuff studios might not ordinarily make. When I look at these movies in various stages of edits, I’m really proud of what these guys have been able to accomplish. If you compare the quality of Horrorfest and After Dark Originals, I feel so much better about Originals because everyone has put their hearts and souls into it.”

When September arrives, however, the question arises: Where will you see the films? Solomon says that’s still being ironed out. Right now there are plans for a limited theatrical run and a possible “huge VOD launch. Where ever you are, you can order it up and watch it at your leisure over a two week period. That way people have an easy way of seeing these movies.” Lionsgate Home Entertainment will handle the inevitable DVD releases which will boast more special features than the Horrorfest titles. One more perk to the Originals banner. “We had a crew on every film doing behind-the-scenes,” Solomon says. “When we acquire films for Horrorfest, sometimes there’s no bonus material, you get what you get.”

I have to say that Husk and Re-Kill sound pretty promising.  The only thing I’m hesitant about is After Dark teaming up with the people at the SyFy Channel.  Now I understand that the productions will get more money for their projects by teaming up with the SyFy people, but let’s face it; the SyFy Channel isn’t exactly known as being sticklers on plot clarity, character development, or cutting edge CGI f/x!!  We’ll see what happens and of course I’ll keep you up to date as I hear anything new!!

Check out a teaser trailer for the After Dark Originals here.

2010 After Dark Horrorfest: Hidden (2009)

Here it is folks; the eighth and final movie for the new After Dark 4 line-up.  If you’ve been keeping score you know this year’s batch of flicks have been more than a little disappointing.  So how does Hidden hold up against the other seven After Dark flicks?

Hidden is the token foreign After Dark entry.  Each year we get one horror flick from a country outside of North America.  In 2006 we got Japan’s Reincarnation; in 2007, France’s Frontier(s); and in 2008 France’s The BrokenHidden comes to us from Norway and has everything I’ve come to expect from a genre flick from that country:  It’s very stylish with fantastic cinematography, it has some beautiful scenery, the acting is competent, it has a great atmosphere, and the film really isn’t a horror movie.  This is definitely more of a horror flick than Lake Mungo (another After Dark 4 entry; see my review here), but it really has more “horror elements” in it than it is a full on horror flick.

Where all the trouble starts!!

Hidden starts with a family pulling onto the side of the road to let their young son (Peter) take a pee break in the nearby woods.  Not far from where Peter is peeing, another young boy (Kai) emerges from beneath the dirt and in a panic runs towards the main road.  Kai and Peter catch each other’s eye and not paying attention Kai runs into the middle of the road.  A semi avoids hitting Kai but smacks straight into the car where Peter’s parents are waiting for him, killing them instantly.  This is a strong, fast-paced beginning that grabs your attention.

With dolls like this, who needs friends??

We then join Kai 19 years later as he comes back to his childhood home to bury his mother who has recently died.  We get loads of atmosphere here as director Pål Øie (yeah; YOU try pronouncing that) really takes his time establishing a very gloomy and mysterious atmosphere.  As Kai views his dead mother’s body he has nothing but contempt on his face.  He even breaks one of the dead lady’s fingers to make sure she is indeed dead.  It seems that dear old ma was fucking crazy and kept Kai locked up in a room most of his childhood tormenting and abusing him.

The killer, or just a figment of the imagination??

Since mom didn’t write a will, Kai inherits the estate and as he returns to his childhood house, no doubt to confront his demons, strange things begin to happen.  Not only does it seem someone has been living in the house for many years but a string of murders also start occurring.  Is there someone living in the house?  Is that “thing” a person or something malevolent?  Did Kai just release whatever the “thing” is into the woods?  These are some of the questions that Øie examines as he weaves a solid story that flirts seamlessly with the slasher and ghost genres.  (I also think Hidden fits nicely into the giallo tradition).  Øie never lets the story get away from him and keeps a tight rein on exactly where he wants the plot to go.  That’s what makes this one work; strong direction and good performances.  Ultimately I label this one a mystery and psychological thriller more so than a horror movie.  The horror elements are definitely there but they take a backseat to the mystery and thriller elements.  And we get an ending where we really don’t know if everything that just happened was in Kai’s mind or real.  It’s a great ending that totally works!!

Kristoffer Joner as Kai ... does a great job here!!

If you like a good mystery where you get enough clues that keep you interested in the story and which takes smart, intriguing twists that work, then you’ll enjoy this one.  If you also love flicks heavy with atmosphere and the feeling that something bad is gonna happen then this one is definitely for you.  I also really liked Øie’s decision to go with a very minimal soundtrack; most of the film has no music at all and this just adds to the atmosphere.

So there we have it folks; this year’s After Dark Horrorfest 4 line-up.  Out of eight films I can only really recommend three (Dread, Zombies of Mass Destruction, and Hidden).  Man; that’s like a 37.5% success rate!!  Yikes.

My Summary:

Director:  Pål Øie

Plot:  3 out of 5 stars

Gore:  0 out of 10 skulls

Zombie Mayhem:  0 out of 5 brain

Reviewed by Scott Shoyer

2010 After Dark Horrorfest: The Reeds (2009)

Just the other day I was chatting with another hardcore horror fan and reviewer Goregirl (read her awesome blog here) about how its easiest to write a review on a movie you either absolutely love or absolutely hate and the most difficult films to review are the ones that are the “middle of the roaders” (i.e., you neither love nor hate them; they just ‘are’).  Well The Reeds, another After Dark Horrorfest flick in the 2010 line-up, is one of those “middle of the road” flicks that when it’s over makes ya sit back and go “meh”.

The movie starts out good enough with a man in a hooded parka standing in a small boat being stalked by something in the reeds.  We see a few POV shots from the reeds and even hear some growling.  It ends with the man in the boat (not that man in the boat; get your mind outta the gutter) shooting at the thing as it attacks him.  We don’t know whether he got it or it got him.  It was a well shot opening that grabs your attention and does a good job at building suspense.  So I assumed from the opening and description of this film that The Reeds was a creature flick.  Wrong; so very very wrong.

The girl with the secret past

After the strong opening we join three London couples as they gather together for a weekend of fun and relaxation.  They decide to rent a boat out in the country and spend the weekend partying on the water.  From the get-go this was a doomed weekend:  The cranky boat rental guy didn’t have a boat for them and sent them to some remote place for one “that was still available”; our group is stalked by a creepy group of teens who seem to enjoy slaughtering dogs; and as soon as they hit the water the group seems to immediately get lost in the maze of water ways.  We also learn that one of the girl’s was from this area in the country.  Whoa; did you hear that?  Did you hear the loud alarm go off and see the bright red flashing light??  You quickly figure out that this won’t be a creature flick but there’s still a chance it could be a slasher movie.  So I kept watching waiting for something cool to happen.  I waited and waited.  And then I waited some more.  Hhmmm, it’s not looking good.

Probably the most "gruesome" scene in the film

The beginning, after the opening scene, is a bit slow but I didn’t mind that so much.  It slowed down in order to introduce the characters and give a little back story.  I never have a problem with that.  It’s just the entire direction the film took after the beginning.  Our group’s boat hits something in the water and springs a sizable hole so they all abandon ship and immediately start encountering weird shit.  A lot of them start seeing strange shit in the reeds only to find themselves looking at images of themselves; the strange group of teens look like they are holding séances and sacrificing animals in the reeds; and the cranky old man from the beginning keeps popping up.  Then after about 30 minutes I realized that not only wasn’t this a creature flick, but it wasn’t going to be a slasher flick either.  It was, so help us all, a crappy and predictable ghost story – one that you’ve seen before.  Just like in 2003’s Lost Things, The Reeds involves a secret past event that created some kind of “ghost loop” in which our main characters get killed one by one and can’t escape from the loop’s eternal replay.  And what is that event?  Ya wanna know?  Oh ok.  It seems that 20-odd years ago that group of teens we see everywhere killed the boat rental guy’s dog.  Rental-dude gets really pissed off and kills all the teens.  Now the teens are ghosts and the old dude needs to keep killing them.  Really?  He killed a group of teens because they killed his dog?  Pretty weak motivation if ya ask me.  But that’s it folks; that’s the punch line.  I told ya it was “meh”.

Beware of cranky old guys with secrets & shotguns!!

But again I wanna stress that this isn’t a horrible movie.  Is it misleading?  Definitely.  Is it predictable?  Absolutely.  Does the whole thing feel familiar and the “twist” feel forced?  You betchya!!  But the cinematography is pretty good, the acting is much better than the typical After Dark entry, and director Nick Cohen seems competent enough (he just doesn’t have a very strong script to work with).  Cohen is definitely someone I’ll keep my eye on in the future; he has a good eye for horror (as he shows in the opening sequence) and should have made a creature film here instead of an artsy-fartsy ghost flick.  I can’t say I recommend this one, but you could do worse (don’t look away from me … you know I’m looking at you The Final!!).

My Summary:

Director:  Nick Cohen

Plot:  2 out of 5 stars

Gore:  1 out of 10 skulls

Zombie Mayhem:  0 out of 5 brains

Reviewed by Scott Shoyer

2010 After Dark Horrorfest: The Final (2010)

Even the poster is lame!!

By now you know I love supporting indie horror filmmakers.  I guess it stems from my desire to support the little guy who’s up against the corporate machine.  I myself have been in the corporate environment (in restaurants) and have experienced firsthand how the corporate wheels can break an individual and crush the creativity and passion out of you.  But obviously not all movies I review here are indie projects.  There are a lot of flicks out there that aren’t Hollywood projects but are better funded than your standard indie flick.  Most of the After Dark Horrorfest (ADH) movies, for example, fall into this category; they aren’t indie and they aren’t Hollywood.

No surprise to my regular readers, I’ve been mostly disappointed with the ADH flicks.  I find most of them completely unoriginal and uninspired.  But when I find a good one it’s usually great (Mulberry Street, Dread).  Most of the ADH movies are completely forgettable the moment the movie ends, but on occasion you find one that’s so utterly bad and unbelievably ridiculous that it boils your blood and makes you physically angry.  The Final, directed by Joey Stewart, is one of those movies that had me rolling my eyes within the first 10 minutes and by the 30 minute mark had me yelling out loud at the screen.  I really fucking hate this movie.  A lot.  Seriously; a LOT.

The original poster was at least cool looking!!

The basic story here (and trust me its basic) is that a bunch of geeks and “unpopular” kids are throwing a costume party in a remote warehouse.  The only people being invited are those who have bullied, tormented, and in general made the geeks’ lives a living hell throughout high school.  Once the party starts the geeks are going to drug the “populars”, tie them up, and exact a little “geek revenge” in the form of torture and disfiguration.  How are they going to pull this off?  As one geek points out, “All the years of watching horror films … what can be better than putting it all to use.”  Seriously?!!?  So this movie, this GENRE movie, is supporting the argument that watching a lot of horror flicks leads to violent actions.  Nice message Stewart.

I’ve also never seen such horrible characterizations in any movie before.  Every character, EVERY single one, is a general stereo-typical caricature painted with the broadest stroke imaginable.  The bullies are total asshole jocks who only care about partying and getting laid; the popular girls are vain bitches who only care about their appearance and verbally torturing uglier girls; and the geeks are all socially awkward wallflowers who never stand up for themselves.

Geek Emily; the only geek that has the cajones to fuck up the "populars"

There’s absolutely no depth or growth to any character.  If the amount of characters was reduced (we’re looking at around 10-12 main characters) then maybe the filmmakers could have spent some time on developing them as individuals instead of just caricatures, thereby giving them some depth.  As it is you could care less what happens to any of the characters; we have no one to sympathize with once the party starts.  And how cool would it have been to make one of the jocks or popular girls the one we end up sympathizing with??

Trust me; it's not a good as it looks!!

I could go on for pages about the ridiculous and completely unrealistic characters, but for the sake of space let’s move on to the dialogue.  Simply put this is some of the worst dialogue I’ve heard in a movie in a long time.  This makes the dialogue from Jennifer’s Body seem realistic (see my review here).  Here are some examples at the horrible dialogue that should prevent writer Jason Kabolati from getting more work:

After the geeks drug the bullies and they’re waking up, the geeks are wearing masks.  Bully:  Who are you?  Geek: It’s a little late for you to get to know us now … we are the rejected, the humiliated, the outcast…

Bully: Go to hell

Geek:  I’m already there

Geek to Bully:  I am the monster that you created

The only decent scene that has a little blood in it.

And the best one is the last line spoken by a geek as the police break into the warehouse.  The geek has a gun to his head as the cop is trying to calm him down.  The geek then looks at the cop and says, “There’s more of us out there.”  You gotta be fucking kidding me with this level of dialogue.  I could literally go on and on with examples of really stupid and sophomoric dialogue.

Setting aside the terrible characters and dialogue, the main problem here is that this flick takes itself way too serious.  The filmmakers actually think they are presenting a chilling and disturbing film that has a message (about consequences and how “none of us are free from them”).  Not even close.  In order to have a message you need your audience to be able to connect with the characters.  What’s more, if you have a flick about geeks trapping and torturing the popular kids the only way to make it work would be to write it as a dark comedy-horror or as a gross-out flick.  Writer Kabolati goes for drama and ends up with pathetic melo-drama.  By the middle of the movie you wanna grab each geek, shake them like you were a British nanny, and tell them to get over it.  Ok; so the jocks and popular kids made fun of and bullied you your entire time in high school.  So fucking what!!  It happens across America every day in every high school.  Get over it ya bunch of whiny, crying pussies!!

The Punchline: NOTHING bad happens to this guy!!

There are so many problems with the script and story that you can’t even switch off your brain and enjoy this as a mindless slasher flick.  As one geek explains to the “populars”:  “Think of this as the final and there’s only one question:  What did I do to deserve this?”  Well NOTHING; they didn’t do anything to deserve getting tortured and killed.  Sure the “populars” are assholes and douche-bags, but ya can’t torture and kill people just because they stole your lunch money and pushed you around!!  Fuck me this is such a stupid story.  The filmmakers here must be fucking retarded if they think we’re gonna sympathize with the geeks!!

Here are some other lame-ass elements:  As the geeks are getting ready to execute their plan they pull out crate-fulls of assault rifles, shotguns, and have more ammo than a militia.  How did they get the guns?  Where did the guns come from?; there’s a sub-plot about a Vietnam vet that is completely superfluous; the geeks are so skilled in pharmacology that they can administer the perfect amount of a drug that paralyzes but doesn’t kill; and at the first sign their plan isn’t going as planned the geeks turn on and start killing each other!!  Jesus christ I hate this fucking movie.

I’m always one for a mindless, gory flick but this one doesn’t even have any worthwhile gore.  There’s a scene lifted straight from Audition involving a guy’s face and acupuncture needles and a shaving cream that has acid in it that eats away the pretty girl’s face (we get it; now she’s as ugly on the outside as she is on the inside.  Wasn’t that an episode of Blossom?).  Ho-hum.

Overall a pretty disappointing bunch of movies capped off with this wet fart or a flick!!

I’m sorry for the lengthy review here but I really needed to go into just how bad this piece of shit is.  This has nothing to offer as far as entertainment goes.  I think this was the writer and director’s therapy session we were watching.  Did you guys get bullied a lot at school?  Is that what’s going on here?  Its’ broad-stroke characters, shitty dialogue, melo-dramatic situations, and surprising lack of gore make this one the worse After Dark entry of 2010.  Some of you might not believe me as to how bad this is, but trust me you don’t wanna waste your time on it.  The Final will easily make my “Worst of 2010 Horror Flicks” list.  This is derivative, pretentious, and just plain old retarded.  Definitely skip this one and forget you ever heard of it!!

**I know some of the pics listed make this look good, but don’t be fooled!!

My Summary:

Director:  Joey Stewart (shame on you)

Plot:  .5 out of 5 stars

Gore:  2 out of 10 skulls

Zombie Mayhem:  0 out of 5 brains

Reviewed by Scott Shoyer

2010 After Dark Horrorfest: Zombies of Mass Destruction (2009)

So far I’ve seen seven of the eight new After Dark 4 offerings (I’m watching the last one tonight).  I’ll be honest folks; I’ve been less than impressed with this year’s offerings (with the exception of Dread).  So when I sat down to watch Zombies of Mass Destruction (ZMD) I admit I was really scared.  The zombie genre is my favorite and I could only imagine how badly an After Dark flick could fuck it up.  Thankfully I was wrong!!  This isn’t a perfect movie by any means, but ZMD delivers a solid zombie romp with good, well-placed humor and well-done gore.  But most refreshing are the characters and the dialogue.

The story takes place in the small island town of Port Gamble.  Port Gamble is the epitome of “small town life” where everything seems simpler and most of the town’s folk are god-fearing.  As the story begins we meet Frida Abbas (played by the very cute Janette Armand).  Frida is returning home from Princeton University where she’s gonna take some time off from school.  Although she was born and raised in America people in town still think of her as “Iraqi” (even though her ancestors came from Iran).  The first thing you’ll notice in this movie is the fantastic dialogue.  Frida runs into some neighbors, the Millers, and the conversation they have is both hilarious and realistic.  Writer Ramon Isao and writer-director Kevin Hamedani do a great job introducing the characters and developing them through the dialogue and of showing how ignorant the people in Port Gamble are without reducing the townies to general, stereo-typical racist douch-bags.  These are simple small town folks who, for the most part, wouldn’t harm anyone.  They just have very limited “world experience”.

Frida’s date gets rudely interrupted!!

The other two main characters are Tom and Lance (well played by Doug Fahl and Cooper Hopkins respectively).  Tom and Lance are a gay couple and Tom is coming home to come out of the closet to his mom.  The dinner scene with Tom, Lance, and mom is classic.  The dialogue is fresh and quick and it sounds like dialogue you would actually hear in real life.

But what sounds like a TV Movie of the Week with a gay couple and a girl experiencing small town racism never sinks into melo-drama.  The dialogue is sharp and all the actors do a great job (there is a scene or two where Frida panders to the camera a little but nothing that damages her overall performance).

Tom & Lance may have better luck outside!!

So what about the zombies?  Glad you asked.  It seems that there is some kind of virus sweeping through the town.  Some believe it to be the result of pollution from the local factory while others think it’s a terrorist attack.  Whatever the cause (which is left unclear) it seems Tom’s mom was bitten and is slowly turning into a zombie.  By the end of her son’s “coming out” dinner you’ll be laughing your ass off and be completely disgusted.  The scenes with mom will remind you of the luncheon scene in Dead Alive with Lionel Cosgrove and his Mum; funny and disgusting.  Later in the movie Tom and Lance get themselves involved in some small town ignorance as well.  They take shelter in the town’s church and when the people there find out they’re gay they put them through “gay rehabilitation”.  This is yet another hilarious and scary scene.

Good, gooey zombie fun here!!

And just when you think it’s taking too long for the zombie mayhem to start, BAM director Hamedani kicks it into high gear.  And once the violence and flesh eating starts it doesn’t let up.

Hamedani is obviously well versed in the zombie and horror genres.  He knows how to create a scare as well as deliver the zombie violence all us hardcore zombie fans love.  But what’s surprising is the humor here.  We get enough humor for this to be considered a “zomcom” (zombie-comedy).  Sure not all of it works; there’s a few places where the humor took away from the horror, but overall the writers did an excellent job of creating a nice balance of humor and horror.  It’s also apparent that Hamedani studied his Romero zombie flicks.  We get some solid social commentary about a post-9/11 America that never becomes preachy.  The movie itself never takes itself too seriously.  Frida at one point finds herself seeking refuge with her neighbors the Millers’.

Joe Miller: a horrifyingly funny character

As they are watching the news to find out what the hell is happening there’s a report that experts think the cause is a terrorist attack.  And before Frida can say “Guantánamo Bay” she finds herself tied up and being interrogated by the father, Joe Miller (played excellently by Russell Hodgkinson).  This is a great example of a scene where the humor and horror are in perfect balance.  As Joe is getting ready to “interrogate” Frida the son, Brian, is trying to tell his dad that their mom was bitten by a zombie.  The father blows it off and Brian says, “Dad, haven’t you ever seen a zombie film before?”  And dad responds, “Now Brian, you know I’m a vampire man.”  Great line!!

Meet patient zero!!

We get loads of well done gore that will satisfy anyone looking for a “gore fix” (and let’s face, who isn’t??) and enough surprises to keep you on your feet (just wait for the scene where Frida is helping a little girl across the street).  Because of the humor this has been compared too and called “the American Shaun of the Dead.”  I wouldn’t go that far.  Shaun was a stronger flick all around but I will say I enjoyed this one a lot better than Zombieland.  This is a solid zombie flick with good acting, a great story, excellent dialogue and humor, and plenty of gore.  Definitely check this one out.

My Summary:

Director:  Kevin Hamedani

Plot:  4.5 out of 5 stars

Gore:  6.5 out of 10 skulls

Zombie Mayhem:  4 out of 5 brains

Reviewed by Scott Shoyer

2010 After Dark Horrorfest: Kill Theory (2009)

Here we are again.  Another After Dark Horrorfest 2010 flick and it’s becoming apparent that this year’s lineup (with the exception of Dread, so far) is no better than the previous years’.  Like so many before it Kill Theory begins with an interesting premise that gets pissed away through shitty execution.

Our story begins in a psychiatric hospital where Walter (played by Kevin Gage) is having a session with his shrink Dr. Truftin (played by Don McManus).  Let me take a moment and talk about Mr. Gage:  Kevin Gage was in the absolutely dreadful 2008 crap-fest Amusement, which actually made my “Top 20 Worst Films of the Decade” (see complete list here).  But he also had a starring role in 2009’s awesome slasher flick Laid to Rest and he played bad guys in such big-budgeters as Heat (1995) and Con Air (1997).  My advice to Mr. Gage is to choose your flicks with a more critical eye.  When you’re good in a movie (like Laid to Rest) you’re awesome, but the bad ones tarnish you more.  Lucky for Gage he doesn’t get too much screen time in Kill Theory.

And there goes the ONLY likable character here!!

Anyway … so Walter is having a session with Dr. Truftin about his release.  It seems Walter was a mountain climber who was out one time with two of his friends.  There was an accident and all three were hanging from the same rope (Walter was at the top) which was breaking from all the weight.  So he had to make a fast decision:  Either they all die or he could cut the rope and his friends would die but he’d live.  He cut the rope and has had a hard time coming to grips with his decision.  It’s never actually made clear, but I would assume that Walter was in the nut house because he had a breakdown about the choice he made.  But the movie makes it sound like he was in there because he murdered his friends.  Hhmmm; seems to me a first year law student could get those charges dropped.  But Walter is convinced that anyone in a similar situation would make the same choice as he did.  The good doctor doesn’t think so.  The doc, who’s character is a self-promoting asshole-schmuck who is putting golf balls during their session, doesn’t agree with Walter and is using him for the topic of a new book.  If you hated the Dr. Loomis character in Zombie’s Halloween 2 then don’t even bother seeing this.  Dr. Truftin is a hundred times worse!!

Just remember; nice guys ALWAYS finish last!!

Writer Kelly Palmer seems at first to create an interesting killer who’s both complex and deep; but almost immediately she turns Walter into a formulaic Saw-like killer who goes over the edge as soon as he’s released and targets the first group of 20-somethings in order to test his “Kill Theory”.  Excuse me while I yawn.  Every character here is a broad-stroke having no depth and you really don’t give a shit about what happens to anyone involved.  We join our 20-somethings in a remote cabin in the woods for a weekend of partying.  We get to “meet” with each character as they interact with each other around the dinner table.  Then after a hard night of drinking they all retire to their bedrooms and Walter wastes no time in testing his theory.  He forces one of the girls to make a choice; he puts a gun in her hand and tells her she can either kill her sleeping boyfriend or be killed herself thereby saving his life.  She dies to save him and we thereby lose the only likeable character in this entire flick.  When the initial panic of the group is over he tells them (via walkie talkie) that they all have until 6am to make a choice.  Either they can start killing each other until there is only one left or they can all be alive at 6am and he will kill them himself.  It was about here that I just stopped caring.

This guy is actually telling you to "stop" & not watch this flick!!

Let’s put aside the bad acting and huge plot holes; these are pretty much givens in After Dark flicks.  The main problem here is that the situation Walter created to prove his “kill theory” is not the same as the situation he was in on that mountain.  Walter thinks he’s proving that deep down inside “everyone’s a killer.” But he’s not proving this at all.  Walter wasn’t forced at gun point to either kill his friends or be killed; his was an organic situation that no one created except for Fate.  The only thing he’s proving here is that people will kill when there’s a gun pressed against their heads and they have absolutely no option.  This is very poorly written and is an obvious rehash of the fantastic movie The Killing Gene (2007), which works on every level. Theory, on the other hand, utterly fails due to poor writing and even worse execution.

You won't believe how incredibly ANNOYING this douchey character is!!

The 20-somethings immediately break down, succumbing to paranoia and distrust and start killing each other faster than a broad on Jenny Craig pounces on the last piece of cake.  Speaking of “Jenny Craig”; if I had to listen to that fat fuck Freddy (played by Daniel Franzese) whining and crying for one more second I was gonna blow my head off.  Seriously people, Freddy is the most annoying character I’ve seen in a very long time.  And I’ve never seen so many people get shot in the stomachs and just kind of brush it off.  Freddy shoots one dude in the gut standing about 5 feet away and the guy just gets up and stabs Freddy (thank you for that by the way).  There are a few others in the cast who take stomach wounds and don’t seem to be affected at all.  We get a couple of decent gore f/x (the shovel death scene was gooey and fun), but not enough to recommend this one.

Are we suppose to relate to a stalker??

Mercifully this movie ends at 82 minutes and we learn why Walter chose this group of 20-somethings:  Because one of the kids was the son of the asshole shrink from the beginning.  Wow what an amazing twist.  First time director Chris Moore does manage to make the ending suspenseful but by that point you’ve completely stopped caring.  This movie has such an interesting premise that is completely pissed away by very poor writing, horrible dialogue, stupid characters doing dumb things, and terrible execution.  I’m assuming we won’t be seeing too much more of Kelly Palmer after this craptacular mess.

DO IT and save us all from your annoying fucking whining!!

Sorry if I sound mean here people but I’m getting tired of these way-below average genre flicks getting undeserved attention while a movie such as The Killing Gene, which was obviously the influence for this flick, gets no publicity and is a hundred times better.  Shame on you After Dark; you once again have lowered the bar.  Skip this one.

My Summary:

Director:  Chris Moore

Plot:  2 out of 5 stars

Gore:  4.5 out of 10 skulls

Zombie Mayhem:  0 out of 5 brains (I don’t even think a zombie could have made this one any better)

Reviewed by Scott Shoyer

2010 After Dark Horrorfest: Lake Mungo (2008)

Ok; let’s clear up a few things:  Lake Mungo, which was made in 2008, is part of the After Dark Horrorfest 2010; Lake Mungo is shot in a faux-documentary style (that was actually effective) but is not based on a true story; there’s already an American remake of Lake Mungo (written by David Leslie Johnson, the force behind 2009’s horrible Orphan) scheduled to hit theaters (yeah, we’ll see about that) in 2011; and most importantly Lake Mungo is not a horror movie.  Argue all you want people but there’s no way this film should be called a “horror movie”.  Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure is more of a horror movie!! All in all Lake Mungo has one or two decent moments but these moments don’t add up too much.

The story is about a teen girl, Alice Palmer (played by Talia Zucker), who drowns while swimming in the local dam.  The movie begins with the event already having happened and Alice’s friend and family are being interviewed in a faux-documentary style.  The documentary style is pretty effective but I also found that it made it difficult to really get into the movie.  When I watch a documentary I’m always very aware I’m watching one and therefore never get completely absorbed into the story.  That format was so well done here that I never truly got into the story.  In fact at a few parts I was expecting Jack Palance to walk onto the screen and grumble in his sandpaper voice, “Believe it, or not.”

The surviving Palmers.

After Alice’s body is found and buried, strange things start happening around the Palmer household.  No, there are no dishes or silverware flying around; no, there are no attacks on the surviving family members; no, there aren’t any walls of blood flowing down the hallways.  The “strange things” here are visions of Alice’s ghost calmly walking around the house and pleasantly posing in other photos.  OH THE HORROR.  If Disney is looking for a ghost story to get kids into the genre, well this is it!!  The brother who’s a wanna-be film maker (and who has some pretty expensive looking equipment) sets up cameras all over the house to capture videos of dead sis walking around.  But are the images captured legit?  I guess you’re gonna have to see this one and find out for yourself.

The douchey brother playing a hoax or a young Dana Carvey??

Ok ok; I’ll tell ya about all the “ghostly images” of dead Alice:  They’re a hoax.  WTF?!!??  I’m only telling you this to 1) save you the time of not watching this movie and 2) ask what the fucking point was of showing Alice’s ghost and then revealing 20 minutes later it was a hoax?  It felt like a huge time waster and an even bigger “fuck you” from the film maker.  And it’s a shame because there were a few genuine “hair standing up on your arms” moments from some of the ghostly images.  But we do find out that Alice had a secret life she kept hidden from both her closest friends and family.  I’m not gonna spoil it (really I won’t) because it’s actually pretty uninteresting (it’s not so much a “secret life” as it is a “horny moment”).  I’m sorry but it’s just not interesting.

The titular lake. Not very scary if ya ask me!!

The movie only starts getting interesting near the end when some archaic clues about her secret  life lead the family to something that happened to Alice at Lake Mungo a few months prior to her drowning.  Again, I won’t reveal what that significant event was, but unfortunately by the time the “big twist” comes you just won’t care.  Director Joel Anderson moves things along at such a slow pace (I mean this one is SLOW people) and throws so many red herrings at you that you just give up caring about what’s going on.  It’s a shame, really, because the “big reveal” at the lake and what happens afterwards could have been effective if the buildup was better executed.  But again; too little too late.

Do you also notice what’s missing in this review?  There really isn’t any kind of conflict or “horror” going on here.  I’m not sure why the After Dark Horrorfest chose this two year old movie for their 2010 HORRORfest.  Granted, After Dark isn’t known for choosing great flicks, but at least they’ve all been horror movies.

ANOTHER pic of the family. Couldn't find 1 scary pic from this flaccid movie!!

Bottom line here is that this is a poorly executed film.  The acting is decent and there’s a good story that’s buried underneath a slow and plodding plot, but Anderson just doesn’t pull off what he set out to do (which was apparently making a horror flick).  If the remake gets rid of all the filler, picks up the pace, makes it a narrative story, and focuses in on the story of what happened to Alice at the lake, I think the remake will have a chance.  The first line in the movie, uttered by Alice, is, “I feel like something bad is going to happen tonight.” Yeah I got the same feeling sweetheart.  If you’re looking for a psychological drama that (kinda) has a ghost in it, well you might enjoy this.  But if you’re looking for a horror movie, definitely skip this one.

My Summary:

Director:  Joel Anderson

Plot:  2 out of 5 stars

Gore:  0 out of 10 skulls

Zombie Mayhem:  0 out of 5 brains

Reviewed by Scott Shoyer

I had to include a ghost pic ... and Casper is scarier than anything going on in this flick!!

2010 After Dark Horrorfest: Dread (2009)

Even the poster is creepy

Here is the second pre-release review for the upcoming After Dark Horrorfest 4 (as of this writing the movies are being released at the end of March 2010).  I haven’t been subtle in what I think about most Horrorfest flicks.  In my review of the only one I’ve so far liked, Mulberry Street, I mentioned that I will keep watching them with the hopes of finding another gem.  Well I’ve found another gem and its one strong-ass fucking movie!!

Dread is the third flick in what is being called “The Books of Blood movie franchise.”  The Books of Blood are, of course, six volumes of short horror stories written by Clive Barker which were published between 1984 to 1985.  These were an overnight success that launched Barker’s career.  Several of these stories have already been made into films:  Rawhead Rex (1986), The Forbidden (1992 as Candyman), The Last Illusion (1995 as Lord of Illusions), The Body Politic (1997 as Quicksilver Highway), The Midnight Meat Train (2008), and The Book of Blood and On Jerusalem Street were combined to make the film Book of Blood (2008).  Most were pretty decent films, but the ones that were bad were very bad (looking at you Book of Blood).

Jackson Rathbone shakes off the stench of the Twilight flix here

So when I heard Dread was being made and it was gonna be part of the After Dark Horrorfest my hopes sank like a stone.  Boy was I wrong.  This is a brilliantly directed, well-acted, atmospheric story that will grab your interest in the first few seconds and not let you go.  At the end of the day this is the story about a man fighting his personal demons and who lets those demons overcome him.  College students Stephen, the film major, and Quaid, an art major, (played by Jackson Rathbone and Shaun Evans respectively) team up to work on their senior projects.  Their topic is dread and they want to explore what people really fear the most (or as they call it, “Touching the beast”).  Stephen hasn’t driven a car for years ever since his brother was killed in a drunk driving accident and Quaid is constantly battling his memories of watching his parents killed by an axe murdered when he was six years old.  The thesis is Quaid’s idea and he’s immediately obsessed with the topic.  Little by little his obsession overtakes him until ultimately he crosses the line.

Now THAT’S a birthmark!!

This is one fantastic movie people.  Director Anthony DiBlasi (who also wrote the screenplay) really takes his time developing these characters and plot.  For the first half of the movie I had no idea where this film was going but knew it was creeping its way into some dark territory (that is so refreshing; I can usually tell exactly where a movie is going within the first ten minutes of watching it).  When Quaid, who is haunted with nightmarish visions of his parent’s murders, dumps his meds down the drain, you know things aren’t gonna turn out well for anyone involved.  Rounding out the cast is Hanne Steen as Abby, who has a hideous birthmark on the right side of her body from her face down to her toes, and Laura Donnelly as Cheryl, who is helping edit the project and had her own “dreadful” story to tell.  Every character here is flawed and battles their own personal demons and DiBlasi does a phenomenal job of developing them so we really care about their fates.  DiBlasi also does something unique here:  He actually makes “dread” a character.  I’m not talking about a physical character; it’s more like a presence throughout the film.  “Dread” becomes like a ghost who you know is lurking around each corner and is inside the head of each character.

It’s safe to say we’d all “dread” a sight like this

DiBlasi’s camera work and angles reminded me of a young Dario Argento who experimented a lot with the camera as he was trying to find his style.  There are a few scenes that are both horrific and beautiful.  Dread also has a very cool washed out look to it that adds to the atmosphere.  And considering this is DiBlasi’s first time directing he is definitely someone you wanna keep your eye on!!  But as good as DiBlasi is behind the camera (DiBlasi also served as producer on 2008’s The Midnight Meat Train and Book of Blood) if he didn’t get strong performances out of his actors then all would’ve been lost.  We get some truly solid chops out of our four main characters.  There wasn’t a hint of overacting or pandering to the camera.  Are you SURE this is an After Dark Horrorfest entry??

Cheryl is having a very bad week!!

As the film progresses, Quaid keeps pushing his thesis further and further.  He starts off with examining and exposing what people truly fear and then crosses the line to actually exploiting those fears.  There is some well-done gore here that aids and helps to solidify the story.  There’s a few cringe-inducing moments and even a scene that reminded me of my favorite movie of the previous decade, Martyrs (you’ll know it when you see it).  Now that says something.  But all the gore here is what I call “situational”.  We don’t get gore simply for gore’s sake (and by now you know I don’t have a problem with that either); the gore is intricately connected to the situations the characters find themselves in.  This makes the gore contribute to the horror and is very effective.

Heeeeere’s Quaid

Whenever I see a Horrorfest flick that I like and think is a strong film I need to step back and ask myself, “Did I think it was a strong movie compared to the other crappy Horrorfest flicks, or is it a solid movie by any standards?”  As far as Dread is concerned this is a strong, solid movie in its own right; Horrorfest or not.  Definitely don’t miss this one!!

*** As of the writing of this review Anthony DiBlasi is listed as the director of the upcoming Hellraiser remake.  I’m not crazy about that classic being remade, but after watching what he did in Dread I believe he’s a great choice and will be someone who can capture the tone and atmosphere of Hellraiser perfectly.  We’ll see.

My Summary:

Director:  Anthony DiBlasi (and screenwriter)

Plot:  4 out of 5 stars

Gore:  5.5 out of 10 skulls (not a lot, but what there was was very effective)

Zombie Mayhem:  0 out of 5 brains

Reviewed by Scott Shoyer

2010 After Dark Horrorfest: The Graves (2010)

Ya got a little something on your lip sweetie!!

Here we are folks; it’s that time of year again.  This year’s After Dark Horrorfest 2010 is upon us.  My good friend Shaun May over at Wreckhouse Magazine (visit their website here) sent me over the early release copies of the eight flicks in this year’s horrorfest.  I’ll be watching and reviewing them over the next few nights, so stay tuned.

Our first one is The Graves.  This is the story of two sisters, Megan and Abby Graves (played by Clare Grant and Jillian Murray respectively) who are having a last hurrah.  Megan is moving to New York City to start a new job and the sisters are trying to get in some good last minute sisterly bonding.  Driving through Arizona they decide to stop at an abandoned haunted gold mine that is now a tourist trap.  During their self-guided tour they are attacked and chased around by a maniac with a hammer.  But he is only the start of their problems.  And this is also the start of our problems.  This one isn’t too good folks, but unlike past Horrorfest movies the problems here aren’t with the performances or the pacing.  It’s in the story and the execution.

Cuties, but Clare (right) can't act!!

First; the performances.  Besides our sexy-ish sisters this movie also stars Tony (Candyman) Todd and Bill (The Devil’s Rejects) Moseley.  They are both iconic horror actors and here they are completely wasted.  Todd gives what is becoming his trademarked “crazy preacher”-like performance.  He walks around spouting out fire and brimstone sermons to his misguided flock.  You’ve seen him do this act before, and while he’s good at it it just has that “been there, done that” feel to it.  And Bill Moseley also plays his standard “he seemed like a good guy at first” character who is actually a raving psycho.  At one point when he’s hunting down our sisters he puts on a rubber pig’s nose and runs around grunting like a pig and screaming “suuu-ey.” Only Moseley could pull such a role off without it looking completely retarded!!

Ya know Moseley gives all his roles 100%!!

And the last performance that I must point out is Clare Grant’s.  Oh Clare.  I loved her in the Master’s of Horror episode “Valarie on the Stairs,” and she has a great wholesome look and a great rack.  But she over-stepped her abilities here.  I don’t think she was ready for a lead role.  Her performance, marked with over-acting and pandering to the camera, was definitely the weakest in the movie.

You know the EXACT role Todd is playing!!

Next; the story and execution.  Simply put the story is a fucking mess.  It seems this small Arizona town has been harboring a demon who can’t kill on its own so it releases some foul smell that makes the town-folk crazy.  The townies kill any visitors who come by and believe they are doing the lord’s work, for some reason.  The demon then sucks the souls out of the fresh corpses to feed.  We only get to see the “soul sucking” scene once and it was a pretty decent effect.  But after that one time the camera turns away as the demon ravages the dead body.  Disappointing.  And since we’re on the topic of the f/x, they are terrible.  There are no practical f/x in the entire flick; everything from a head getting beaten by a hammer to blood spraying all over is done with CGI.  And it looks extremely fake.  Blech.

I think she's waiting around for a lucid plot!!

And in a weird move we pretty much know about the soul-sucking demon from the first 30 minutes of the film but director Brian Pulido acts as if we have no idea what’s going on.  When one of the town’s folk gives us the “big reveal” you’re kinda sitting there like “Ok; I figured that’s what was going on.  Is that it?” It’s very anti-climatic.  And the decision to title the movie after the two lead sisters was a bad mistake.  First off, are the sisters really supposed to be the focus of the story?  If more focus was placed on the demon and its relation to the townies then we may have had a better movie here.  By naming the movie after the sisters you never feel that Megan and Abby are ever in any real danger.  Sure they get messed up a bit, but you never really fear that either sister is going to get killed off.  And why would you?  The movie’s named after them!!

Punk band Calabrese with the "sisters".

The beginning of the flick had promise (there’s even a cameo performance by the group punk-metal band Calabrese).  There was still a little bit of mystery as to what was going on.  You know people are getting killed in this town but you also know there’s more to it than simply a crazy family on the loose.  But Pulido blows his wad too soon and with the mystery disappearing, so does your interest.  Pulido also flirts with the idea of briefly turning the movie into a torture flick (when Grant and Moseley are facing off).  You get the feeling the movie doesn’t know what it wants to be when it grows up, so it decides to be a huge mess.  On the plus side, The Graves does have better production values than most Horrorfest flicks and the pacing is definitely a step above other Horrorfest entries.  But unfortunately there’s not enough to keep you interested.  The final part of the film just completely falls apart.  After the sisters are caught and escape unharmed for the 57th time, the movie just sorta ends.  In the end the demon enters Tony Todd’s body and Todd looks up into the camera and utters the film’s last dialogue in a guttural, demonic-sounding voice:  “We are legion; we are many.” WTF??  Really???  If the demon could enter Todd’s body, then why the fuck didn’t it do so before?  Oh whatever; that’s but one mystery for the movie.  I think Pulido was more interested in setting up a sequel than he was in just giving it a good ending.  And by the way, Pulido is working on The Graves 2: Return to Skull City.  Again, blech.

Director Brian Pulido or member of Loverboy???

I really need to mention one last thing about this flick and that’s the absolute shameless self-promotion by director Pulido.  Pulido has created, written, and co-written numerous graphic novels and in the opening scenes of the movie we see Megan and Abby in a comic book store holding up copies of Pulido’s comics to the camera talking about how much they love them.  And then we see a mile-long banner advertising a website (which I won’t name here).  Really Brian?  That was just really poor judgment on his part.

Hopefully the next 2010 After Dark Horrorfest flicks that I review will be better.  I can’t help it, I’m a hopeful optimist!!  But as far as this one goes, you can skip it.

My Summary:

Director:  Brian Pulido (and writer)

Plot:  1.5 out of 5 stars

Gore:  2 out of 10 skulls (for terrible CGI f/x)

Zombie Mayhem:  0 out of 5 brains

Reviewed by Scott Shoyer

In case you don't know, THIS is the band Loverboy. See what I mean?