DVD Review: After Dark Horrorfest Collection
By Jeff Swindoll Mar 25, 2008, 16:01 GMT
Crazy Eights Synopsis: Six people are brought together at the funeral of a childhood friend. While settling the estate, they discover a map, which leads them on a search for a long forgotten time capsule. At the request of their dead friend, they follow the map and what they discover reawakens repressed childhood traumas and leads them on a journey through their long abandoned childhood home…a home with a terrible secret ...more
The success of the first Horrorfest seemingly born the festival into an annual event. This year’s event basically follows the same schedule as the first with eight horrors running through the theaters with a final film showing up in theaters this year. Just like the previous year this collection of films is a mixed bag.
I like a good horror movie as much as the next corpse, but sometimes you have to wade through the slapdash to get to the good stuff. I don’t really think that there’s one in this round that really stinks but some are better than the others.
Of course, full disclosure is that I’m going to list them in my preferred order and your mileage may vary as to whether I’m correct or just full of baloney. A few of them in the middle might be interchangeable in their positions though.
Two films really stood out this time around for me. One for its quality and the other for its homage to some past films and making use of a low budget. The first one I’m going to talk about is Borderland, but the second film I mention really is probably my favorite.
Borderland (4 stars): A trio of school chums (Brian Presley, Jake Muxworthy, and Rider Strong) go south of the border for a good time. What they find is a drug smuggling ring that uses black magic to ensure that their shipments don’t get intercepted. They sacrificed a local the last time and they shipment didn’t make it, so they think that a lily white student just might do the trick for old Scratch to see his way to make sure that the next load doesn’t get intercepted by the federales.
One of the students is kidnapped by the cult and the other two contacts the authorities but no one wants to help them out of fear of the “soulless” cult members, that is except a rumpled ex-cop whose partner was killed by the cult. Borderland is probably the best-made film in the group because it makes the best use of all its elements. It has good acting, a compelling story (based on the killing at Matamoras), gruesome effects, and is well shot.
It comes awful close to torture porn I suppose but really doesn’t go there that often. It’s true that there is some grue but I think that the “torture porn” version would’ve shown more, especially in a scene towards the end that only shows the outcome.
Borderland is presented in anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1) and is enhanced for 16x9 televisions. Special features include a commentary by director Zev Berman, Brian Presley, director of photography Scott Kevan, and producer Lauren Moews. Next is the 20-minute “Inside Zev’s Head” which is a video diary by the director.
The 28-minute “Rituales de Sangre” is a documentary about the real life case that inspired the film. Finally, there are 20 minutes of webisodes of the Miss Horrorfest contest (these are on every disc in the set).
Mulberry St. (4 stars): The big apple proves to have a rotten core as construction forces rats out of the deepest sewers. The problem is that these are special rats and if they bite you you’re infected and transform in to rat-like mutations. The residents of Mulberry St. find this out the hard way.
Clutch (Nick Damici) is an ex-boxer that lives in an apartment complex on the street. His daughter Casey (Kim Blair) had some facial scaring while she served in Iraq and is on the way home when the island of Manhattan is shut down when the virus starts to spread and the attacking rat people produce chaos on the streets. The residents of the complex find themselves overrun by the beasts and are held under siege.
Mulberry St. owes much to the work of George Romero but also a debt to urban films such as Street Trash or Basket Case and has a strong feel of a film making the best on a low budget. The people infected by the rat virus may be a bit much and the makeup not exactly the best, but the film really makes up for it in character and suspense.
I have to say that it’s a sentimental favorite since it harkened back to watching those VHS wonders in the day and being impressed when films overcome their low budgets. Anzio!
Mulberry St. is presented in anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1) and is enhanced for 16x9 televisions. Special features include 8 minutes of storyboards with the final scenes playing as well.
Next are 2 minutes of deleted scenes, 90 seconds of early director’s sketches, a 3-minute makeup test, and 3 minutes of outtakes. The 2 minute “Behind the Scenes: The Rats” doesn’t look at the infected folks but at the rat wranglers getting their “actors” to perform. Finally you have the Miss Horrorfest webisodes.
The Deaths of Ian Stone (3.5 stars): Produced by makeup maven Stan Winston, this film tells the tale of Ian Stone (Mike Vogel). He seems to be a normal youth with a nice girlfriend (Christina Cole) until he’s attacked by a shadowy figure and is run over by a train. Should end the film right? Nope.
Ian wakes up and is now a financial advisor and some of the people from his first “life” are people in this life. Again the shadowy figures show up and Ian is killed, only to find himself in another life. There’s a bit of repetition as Ian finds himself thrown into each new life with each one being a bit worse than the last (hockey player to financial advisor to drug addict, etc.).
One must give kudos for putting hottie Jaime Murray in a red leather outfit (Woof! That’s where the .5 probably comes from). The problem is that, although compelling, I didn’t see much explanation as to what exactly these Harvesters (as the shadowy figures are called) are. To me also the makeup seemed uneven and I found some of it on Vogel (towards the end) laughable with its flowing Fabio hair.
There’s a nice Brit feel to it, but I got the impression that we’re supposed to think some of it takes place in the US (although that steering wheel being on the wrong side of Stone’s car is a dead giveaway).
The Deaths of Ian Stone is presented in anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1) and is enhanced for 16x9 televisions. Special features include the Miss Horrorfest Webisodes, which I tire of already. That’s a shame since an interview with Stan Winston would’ve made a very nice addition.
Unearthed (3 stars): An archeological dig uncovers a 900 year-old beastie and it starts laying waste to an isolated desert town. The local sheriff (Emmanuelle Vaugieras) is drowning her sorrows in the bottle until the city council can vote to fire her, but now she has to sober up fast as this creature is in pursuit.
I did like this one and it does help to turn off the brain to enjoy it. It’s really nothing that you haven’t seen before. The creature looks like somebody was watching Alien on late night telly when “inspiration” hit. The ending is a little bleak and unexpected since we think that a certain character is going to find a reason to live but only finds a purpose in dying.
Unearthed is presented in anamorphic widescreen (2.40:1) and is enhanced for 16x9 televisions. Those Miss Horrorfest webisodes are all the special features that you’re going to get here.
Nightmare Man (2.5 stars): Ellen (Blythe Metz) and her hubby William (Luciano Szafir) are trying to make a baby. To help out Ellen orders a fertility mask online, but instead she gets a devilish looking one instead. She starts dreaming about a nightmarish figure and truly quickly her husband is committing her to an asylum (too quick in the course of the film).
On the drive there the car runs out of gas and hubby grabs the can and hikes back to the station. Ellen falls asleep in the care and when she wakes up that night the masked man is outside the car and trying to kill her. She runs trough the woods and ends up at the vacation home of two couples (Hannah Putman and James Ferris and Tiffany Shepis and Jack Sway).
They call her husband who informs them of Ellen’s condition and tells the to stay put that he’s on the way to the house. However, the masked man shows up and begins to kill the occupants of the house one by one so maybe Ellen isn’t so crazy after all… or is she? Nightmare Man starts off as a standard thriller but takes a big swerve towards the end. Some people will find this “swerve” welcome but I thought it silly. It probably didn’t help that I really didn’t care for Blythe Metz’s performance and thought that Tiffany Shepis might’ve made a better lead since she’s good in her role.
Nightmare Man is presented in anamorphic widescreen (1.78:1) and is enhanced for 16x9 televisions. This one actually has some special features besides the prerequisite Miss Horrorfest webisodes.
They include the 7 minute “Flubbing a Nightmare” gag reel, 16 minutes of extended scenes, a 5 minute still gallery, 17 minutes of Shepis’ video diaries, and the 21 minute “Creating a Nightmare” making of.
Lake Dead (2 stars): Three sisters (Kelsey Crane, Kelsy Wedeen, and half sister Tara Gerard) inherit a motel from the grandfather they didn’t know they had and their father doesn’t want them to go to it. We soon discover why as one sister (the half) goes early and gets a very close look at the lake.
The dark family secret is soon discovered and we find out that some families are unnaturally close. Lake Dead feels like Wrong Turn lite. The acting isn’t exactly the best and it just seems like you’ve seen it all before. It probably didn’t help that I was laughing because the family motel is the “Cecil B. DeMille Archives” from Sands of Oblivion as well as a location in numerous other movies.
Lake Dead is presented in anamorphic widescreen (1.78:1) and is enhanced for 16x9 televisions. Miss Horrorfest, nuff’ said.
Tooth and Nail (2 stars): The world has been decimated and a group of survivors hole up in an abandoned hospital. They take in an injured girl (Rachael Miner) and face assault by a group of cannibalistic Rovers. The problem with Tooth and Nail is that it’s just too talky and really ends up being boring.
The big surprise turns out to be something that we suspect from the beginning (I’ll not spoil it). The names in the cast (Robert Carradine, Vinnie Jones, and Michael Madsen), save for Miner, only really turn in cameos and I can imagine that they probably shot for a day, collected their paychecks, and moved on.
The lead takes a turn in character that seems very forced towards the end and is more laughable than anything. It also doesn’t help that everyone is saddled with names like Viper, Neon, and the like. The coolest thing is the skeletal butterfly on the cover.
Tooth and Nail is presented in anamorphic widescreen (1.78:1) and is enhanced for 16x9 televisions. Say hello to Miss Horrorfest again, talk about being predictable.
Crazy Eights (2 stars): A group of childhood friends reunite to attend the funeral of one of their friends. After the funeral they find a map the friend left them to a time capsule and they end up unleashing a vengeful spirit from their past. Crazy Eights is probably the most disappointing of the lot because it has a cast (Traci Lords, Dina Meyer, George Newburn, Gabrielle Anwar, Dan Deluca, and Frank Whaley) that makes you think that it’s going to be a good movie.
It turns out to be a big disappointment and when they start dropping like flies you get the sense that some of the “deceased” cast members are probably just happy to be able to leave the set. The explanation of the haunting is a lot of hokum and leaves much to be desired.
I’m not even sure what it was about, some hooey about guilt but no explanation about what they had to be guilty for. The filmmakers are guilty of something though.
Crazy Eights is presented in anamorphic widescreen (2.37:1) and is enhanced for 16x9 televisions. Speaking of crazy, there are those Miss Horrorfest contestants again. I get the impression that the winner won because she showed her boobs, well with red tape over the nipples. That must hurt to pull off.
The Horrorfest has come to and end, but there’s still one more film on the horizon with Frontier(s) scheduled to hit theaters soon. The set has some good titles, but I was hoping for more from some of them. However horror fans have to take the chaff with the wheat. Be warned that you’ll get tired of Miss Horrorfest.
After Dark Horrorfest Collection is now available at Amazon. As of yet, there is not a release date for the UK. Visit the DVD database for more information. Click here to enter to win a copy of the collection!