Reel Advice from the Video Store Guy
By Steve Anderson
October 1st, 2009


Directed by Serge Rodnunsky
Written by Serge Rodnunsky
Starring Thomas Calabro, Ashley Laurence, Shaun Kurtz, James Russo
Produced by Serge Rodnunsky, Shaun Kurtz
86 mins

I had to admit, I was pretty scared when I cracked this one from Lions Gate open--frankly, just hearing the words "H.P. Lovecraft movie" are enough to make my blood run cold any more. There have only been a precious few of these that can actually be considered good, and each new one that comes out operates under its own handicap of being less likely than any other to be a good one.

This time around, we're following a doctor who's going after the secrets of eternal life thanks to everybody's favorite how-to book of eternal damnation, the Necronomicon. And when a young writer discovers the doctor's secrets, all hell is going to break loose. Literally.

Wow, this could be one of the cheesiest attempts at an H.P. Lovecraft piece I've seen in a good long while. There are plot holes, logic bombs, and just about every kind of narrative failing a script can generate. Plus, they'll hop around the narrative like it's a bad game of hopscotch, jumping from point to point and time to time like things like coherence were merely optional.

And when it's not being confusing it's just being outright stupid. I mean, for crying out, did the main character NOT manage to work somewhere that wouldn't be relevant to the plot later? Convenient hell, his resume must read like a plot synopsis. Meanwhile, you've got stereotypically crooked cops, stereotypically gangsta black people, and of course, stereotypical damsels in equally stereotypical distress.

Then you tack on some truly godawful special effects, including the thoroughly digital decapitation of a scientifically wrought monstrousity and the horrendously programmed death of the mad doctor, and pretty soon you've got a recipe for a hundred pounds of crap in a five pound sack.

The ending requires you to suspend disbelieve so badly that it must be expelled, but there is a nifty twist ending of sorts in here, so I give some credit where credit is due.

The special features include English and Spanish subtitles, as well as trailers for Chill, Punisher: War Zone, The Legend of Bloody Mary, Artifact, Deception, and Side Sho.

All in all, this is yet another in a long, long, depressingly long string of lousy H.P. Lovecraft movies. I don't know what it is about the guy's work that makes video translation of it so thoroughly impossible, but man, it just IS.

Dead Wood

Dead Wood
Directed by David Bryant, Sebastian Smith, Richard Stiles
Written by David Bryant, Sebastian Smith, Richard Stiles
Starring Fergus March, Emily Juniper, John Samuel Worsey, Rebecca Craven
Produced by David Bryant, Sebastian Smith, Richard Stiles
86 min

I had my doubts about this one going in. I've always been leery of movies that require more than one director and more than two writers. But this one was looking to prove me wrong from the start.

When four friends, including one couple and another duo whom the couple hopes will BECOME a couple, go out to the woods for a weekend of camping and fun in the woods, they discover that they're not the only ones out there. But what else is out there isn't human...and it's not happy to have visitors.

I'll say this up front for Dead Wood--there's nothing really WRONG with it. The plot is nicely set up and moves at a fairly rapid pace, there's plenty of nicely done suspenseful moments and even a few interesting scares. The characters are at least fairly interesting, and by the time you figure out what's going on in that woods, you're actually going to be pretty surprised.

In fact, this is one of those movies where it's actually rather difficult to write anything in particular about it. There's nothing terribly wrong about it to mock openly, but it's not really so great as to be really effusive about it, either. It will hold your attention for eighty minutes without insulting you in any way, it's fairly original, and it just does the job. The effects aren't anything spectacular, but neither are they meant to be. The music's fine, the plot is all right, the visuals are thoroughly unremarkable, this is a movie that all but epitomizes sterile mediocrity.

How Slasherpool could wax so grandiloquent about this one baffles me. "Sure to scare the hell out of you"...right...and I'm the Queen of France.

The ending is a little on the weak side, trying for a surprise but instead getting a little bit of nonsense. Frankly, I was a little lost. But this doesn't really distract from the rest of the movie because it doesn't kick in until the very end.

The special features include commentary tracks, deleted scenes, an alternate opening, an alternate ending, a blooper reel, audio options, display options, English and Spanish subtitles and a collection of trailers.

All in all, Dead Wood is aggressively not bad, and will be worth your time to watch, though if you've got movies you really want to see, there's no reason to bump this one up ahead of any of them.