BluRay/DVD Reviews

AFTER DARK HORRORFEST 2006

By • Mar 27th, 2007 •

Share This:

Lion’s Gate

The After Dark Horrorfest of 2006 was first brought to my attention by way of the editor of this very publication. He knows that the majority of my published contributions about film fall directly into the horror genre. I’m intrigued by the history of violence in cinema and the effects it has on the film industry and society itself. Plus, to cut to the chase, I just really dig horror films. When he asked me what I knew about this film festival, I disappointingly had to admit that I knew very little, except that it existed. It felt as though I was losing touch with the horror genre bloodline. Roy claimed that it looked quite interesting and I agreed, adding I was game for ANY horror film festival that did NOT feature a movie by Eli Roth.

The After Dark Horrorfest is affiliated with Lion’s Gate Films, who owes their complete success to the horror genre and I believe they know this. When they advertised the Horrorfest, I was promised films that were too disturbing and disgusting for regular theatrical viewing. I immediately figured this was a moneymaking ploy for movies that should be released as straight to video fare. I guessed that Lion’s Gate saw a way to add more money to features that they were afraid to back-up with advertising dollars. After all, you were getting “8 Films To Die For” and they only had to run one advertisement.

When the Horrorfest was released theatrically you got two bonus films, SNOOP DOGG’S HOOD OF HORROR and David Arquette’s recently released THE TRIPPER. The film I was extremely excited to see was Nacho Cerda’s THE ABANDONED, simply because I loved the director’s previous work and was anxious to see what he could do with a larger budget. On this home video release the movie company left THE ABANDONED out because it did receive mediocre financial and critical success. Currently, Lion’s Gate is busy milking it for all they can, thus, leaving it in theaters and having it missing from the boxed-set entirely. It does throw a wrench into their “8 Films To Die For” advertising tagline. The cover art for each title are effective and perhaps the most exciting posters for films released last year. The seven films available are ready to buy as a festival boxed-set or separately by title.

UNREST
This film is probably the reason for the advertising statement that the Horrorfest films are too disturbing for regular release. This title was filmed entirely in an actual hospital morgue and features real-life cadavers in supporting roles. To me, this could help or hinder the success of this film. I don’t think I would pump-up the fact that actual dead people soaked in skin-altering formaldehyde were featured in my movie. Once you learn this, it’s hard to get out of your mind. Especially when you see the decaying, pale film that forms over the dead extra’s eyes. However, this was one of the few films in this group that I totally enjoyed. The cast is quite good for a horror feature and includes Jessica Alba’s prissy little brother.

Destitute medical student Alison Blanchard is forced to live right down the hall from the hospital morgue while she awaits clearance for her financial aid. Her first day in class with teacher Dr. Blackwell goes horribly awry. The rest involves respect for the dead, demonic possession, Aztec theology and supernatural suspense that was quite effective. Irish actor Derrick O’Connor is a true highlight as the head of the gross anatomy class. This feature had potential to be shown by itself as a theatrical release and is worth seeing on its own. I’m looking forward to future horror films from director Ipson.

THE GRAVEDANCERS
Great horror film that falls apart at the end. The cast is excellent, the effects and cinematography are top form, but the resolution just goes to hell. Still, until the ending, the movie, as a horror feature, is quite disturbing and has some true style to it. Looking forward to this director’s future also.

Three friends from college attend a former alumni’s funeral. After the service, they head to a bar for a night of drinking and decide to visit their friend at the graveyard one last time While there, one of the trio finds a card at the base of a headstone that has a strange poem written on it. They sing the poem aloud while dancing upon a few grave plots. The poem is actually a curse that allows the dead to haunt whoever desecrates their graves. The grave sites happen to be where that state’s government buries their undesirable derelicts and criminals, including, a psycho woman who axe-murdered her many husbands, a child pyromaniac, and a sexual degenerate. The disrespect shown to them is dished back in a terrifying showdown between good and evil. This was quite enjoyable, except for the last ten minutes. Istanbul-born actor, Tcheky Karyo, steals the whole film as a paranormal scientist. The midget that stands in for the pyro-loving child for safety reasons was unintentionally comical.

WICKED LITTLE THINGS
An eerie spin on the zombie/ghost story. I was slightly reminded of John Carpenter’s THE FOG and, of course, the zombie films of George A. Romero. Plus, I was told that Tobe Hooper was originally attached to this feature, which could have went either way with him directing. However, I like Mr. Hooper and would love to have seen his take on this title.

Karen Tunny moves her two young daughters to a home she inherited from her recently deceased husband. It’s located in a tiny town in Pennsylvania. The facts she doesn’t know is that back in 1913 a mining accident happened where twenty children (or more) were buried alive due to the uncaring mining foreman and various adults. It was a tragedy that could have been avoided had anybody cared. Now, at night, the dead children emerge to seek revenge on any poor bastard they wonder upon.

This film conveyed a genuine creepy feeling and Ben Cross was excellent as a local who knows exactly what he’s dealing with when it comes to the zombie children. He looks like a degenerate out of the film DELIVERANCE, but at least looks and acts like one capable of having earned a GED.

DARK RIDE
This was a horrible waste of time. This would be the slasher film contribution to the Horrorfest. It was a rip-off of Bob Clark’s BLACK CHRISTMAS and Tobe Hooper’s FUNHOUSE, but that had nothing to do with why I hated it. The actors were deplorable and the characters they portrayed were even worse. The ending will make you want to destroy something. I’m looking forward to this director’s family talking him into taking up dental school.
Five college friends and a female hitchhiker go to an abandoned “Dark Ride” carnival attraction located at Asbury Park in New Jersey. A decade earlier two young girls were murdered there. The psycho that committed the killings escapes the looney bin and returns to his old stomping ground. Every single actor in this film is mind-numbingly annoying, but then again, their characters are written horribly. The writers give the murderer a name like Joshua and give him a semi-effective mask, but he’s NO Michael Myers or Jason Voorhees. The surprise twist at the end is insulting. Terrible.

PENNY DREADFUL
This film had some terrific horror scenes and I loved the possibilities of the premise. It started up with an entertaining opening title sequence that wasn’t topped last year for a horror film. It falls apart right at the half-way point in running time. Great effort, but it doesn’t deliver.

Penny’s parents died in a violent car wreck. She remembers it. She’s developed a phobia of riding in automobiles ever since. Mimi Rogers portrays the shrink who is going to help Penny get over her terrifying anxiety. She takes Penny on a cross-country drive to a cabin in the mountains to get her used to the automobile experience. On the way, the psychologist accidentally slams a hitchhiker, and this guy is unique to say the least. Turns out he is a sadistic serial killer who takes pleasure in mentally torturing his potential victims. The whole movie practically takes place in an automobile. The filmmakers used horror icon Michael Berryman in a uniquely effective way. Great independent attempt, but has many flaws.

THE HAMILTONS
This was a disturbing film that is constantly compared to THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE. The resemblance is more from the director’s use of the camera than the actual plot. This film has also been criticized for its surprise ending, which I enjoyed. The twist at the end solidified the actions of the characters for me. I was hating this movie entirely until the revealing conclusion. The film is cheaply shot, uses very little gore and has quick editing that contributed to the creepiness of it all. THE HAMILTONS is quite awful and you’ll either love or hate the ending.

The Hamilton siblings reside in a tiny suburban community located in California. They are trying to contend with the unexpected death of their parents while doing their best to seem like an everyday all-American family. The four Hamilton children are far from normal. The oldest, David, is attempting to step up and be the parental figure to the rest of his family. At night he picks up homosexuals to kill and bury in his basement. The sadistic Wendell enjoys kidnapping young girls and keeping them hostage for days at a time. Wendell has a twin sister and the twins enjoy sexual encounters with each other. The youngest brother, Francis, is doing his best to distance himself from his brothers and sister. He does everything he can to avoid Wendell’s wrath while contemplating turning his family in to the social worker who visits once a week.

REINCARNATION

The last in a trilogy by Japanese filmmaker Shimizu. I’m not big on horror from Japan, so I was destined to dislike this title. It’s a supernatural thriller that had some frightening imagery throughout. Shimizu is responsible for the Americanized version of his Japanese films THE GRUDGE and its sequel, perhaps two of the worst horror films I’ve ever seen. He is capable of keeping my interest with his off-the-wall and eerie visuals. If it’s a Japanese horror film by anyone other than shock expert Takashi Miike, I’m not interested.

A horror director takes his cast and crew to a hotel where a mass murder took place. He intends to make a film about the grisly tragedy. The lead actress is haunted by visions of the murders and the rest of the cast is being killed in the same manner as the original catastrophe. Comparisons to THE SHINING are slightly warranted. Stylish film, but not recommended.


Films and Features:

UNREST
Directed by: Jason Todd Ipson
Produced by: Gary Chun, Jason Todd Ipson and Adam M. Lebovitz

Starring: Corri English, Scot Davis, Joshua Alba, JayJablonski, and Derrick O’ Connor
Running Time: 88 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Special Features: Commentary by director Ipson
Unrest: Behind the scenes featurette

REINCARNATION
Directed by: Takashi Shimizu
Produced by: Takashige Ichise

Starring: Yuka, Karina, Kippei Shiina, Tetta Sugimoto,Shun Oguri
Running Time: 96 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Special Features: The Making Of Reincarnation featurette
Deleted scenes with optional commentary
Memories Of Reincarnation with director
Introduction by director Shimizu

THE GRAVEDANCERS
Directed by: Mike Mendez
Produced by: Al Corley, Lawrence Elmer Fuhrmann, Jr., Bill McCutchen, Eugene Musso and Bart Rosenblatt

Starring: Dominic Purcell, Josie Maran, Clare Kramer, Marcus Thomas, Tcheky Karyo and Megahn Perry
Written by: Brad Keene and Chris Skinner
Cinematography by: David Armstrong
Music by: Joseph Bishara
Running Time: 96 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Special Features: Commentary by director Mendez and music composer Bishara
A Grave Undertaking featurette
Making The Ghosts featurette
Deleted scenes with commentary option
Trailer with commentary option
Storyboards

THE HAMILTONS
Directed by: The Butcher Brothers
Produced by: Mitchell Altieri and Phil Flores

Starring: Cory Knauf, Samuel Child, Joseph McKelheer, Mackenzie Firgens, Rebekah Hoyle and Brittany Daniel
Written by: Adam Weis and The Butcher Brothers
Running Time: 86 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Special Features: Commentary by the directors and actor Cory Knauf
Deleted Scenes
Bloopers

WICKED LITTLE THINGS
Directed by: J.S. Cardone
Produced by: J.S. Cardone, Boaz Davidson, Danny Lerner and David Varod

Starring: Lori Heuring, Scout Taylor-Compton, Chloe Moretz, Ben Cross and Geoffrey Lewis
Written by: Jace Anderson, Adam Gierasch and Ben Nedivi
Running Time: 94 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Special Features: Commentary by director Cardone and actor Lori Heuring

DARK RIDE
Directed by: Craig Singer
Produced by: Daniel Bickel and Chris M. Williams

Starring: Jamie-Lynn DiScala, Patrick Renna, David Clayton Rogers, Alex Solowitz and Andrea Bogart
Written by: Craig Singer and Robert Dean Klein
Running Time: 94 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Special Features: Commentary by director Singer and producerWilliams
Ticket To Ride featurette
Behind The Mask featurette
Deleted Scenes
Storyboards
Theatrical Trailers

PENNY DREADFUL
Directed by: Richard Brandes
Produced by: Richard Brandes, Braxton Pope and Andrew Weiner

Starring: Rachel Miner, Mimi Rogers, Michael Berryman, MickeyJones and Chad Todhunter
Written by: Diane Doniol-Valcroze, Arthur Flam and Richard Barnes
Running Time: 92 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Special Features: Behind The Scenes featurette
A music video

Tagged as: , , , , ,
Share This Article: Digg it | del.icio.us | Google | StumbleUpon | Technorati

Leave a Comment

(Comments are moderated and will be approved at FIR's discretion, please allow time to be displayed)