presents...
 

Reel Advice from the Video Store Guy

Cookers | Psycho Ward

By Steve Anderson
April 1st , 2010

CookersCookers
***
DVD
Directed by Dan Mintz
Written by Jack Moore, Jeff Ritchie
Starring Brad Hunt, Cyia Batten, Patrick McGaw
Produced by Jeff Ritchie
R
96 mins
2005

One of the great things about this line of work is that there are always, ALWAYS, movies to find. And I get to bring them to you, the weird, the unpleasant, and the pretty damn scary.

This time around, I'm going to bring you Cookers, a movie that shows you, up close and personal, what can happen when you deal with meth in haunted houses. A "cooker", in case you don't happen to live in an area heavily dominated by the poor man's crack, is a person who creates crystal methamphetamine from various components. And in this case, one group of cookers has set up shop in an abandoned house and is well on its way to distilling a particularly high-tension batch which they plan to sell for big profits. But needless to say, the house is beginning to look a whole lot less inviting than it once did. Strange visions pursue them, and their own fears begin to amplify.

How much of this is the drug working on them? And how much of it is completely beyond man's capacity to explain?

That's really the best part about this whole thing. It's almost impossible to tell how much of this is some meth-fueled hallucination and how much of it is a ghost story. It really adds to the tension when you realize these three meth-heads are seeing the most baffling stuff and there's absolutely no way to tell whether they're seeing something...or just seeing things.

Tension. That's part and parcel of Cookers' entire act. Paranoia and visions and drugs all together, well...that makes for a really tense environment. And when things get this tense it's hard not to go right along with it just to see how the whole ticking time bomb of a movie ends up.

The ending is a hallucinatory mishmash, even more so than the whole rest of the movie combined, and will do an excellent job of making you question your own sanity.

The special features include closed captioning and a selection of trailers.

All in all, Cookers is an excellently done work of suspense that will keep you guessing long after the movie is done, though this doesn't diminish from its well set up storyline.

Psycho WardPsycho Ward
***
DVD
Directed by Patrick McBrearty
Written by Christopher Lee Thompson
Starring Jacqueline Betts, Bobby Horvath, Liam Card, Jim Kosmenko
Produced by Patrick McBrearty, Harpreet Bassi, Jeff Neiman, Jim Kosmenko
R
2009

Ah, abandoned prisons. Clandestine party spot, raging kegger central, horror movie setting since time immemorial and of course, killing spree central. And that's the central theme behind today's horror movie spectacular, Psycho Ward.

Psycho Ward features a group of young people off to do a documentary about an abandoned prison, and some of the stuff that's gone on there. But to their surprise, the prison isn't quite so abandoned. In fact, it's currently the domain of a massive, obese serial killer. And he will, not surprisingly, run amok on literally everybody he finds.

The end result is a scary, if somewhat standard, sort of slasher flick that combines all the greatest survival horror elements of a normal slasher flick and adds on the sheer creepy factor that is doing it all in a comparatively small space.

However, it is sort of a low blow that urbanstudd.com, which they advertise relentlessly in the movie, is NOT an actual web site. Oh, and when someone gets three nails jammed into their hand that's not usually a call for a surly grunt. But then, this kind of thing has been going on in slasher movies since time immemorial, and can usually be chalked up to using a bunch of not-ready-for-prime-time players as actors. They're fairly decent, as actors go, but they'll never be mistaken for, you know, actual professionals. Even if they're getting paid, which they likely are, they're still not in the same caliber as, say, a lot of the folks you might see in theatrical horror releases.

The ending is a terminal downer on a patently epic scale. There's just no other way to describe it. But I admit that the end credits are pretty nice.

The special features include English and Spanish subtitles, and trailers for Death Warrior, Shattered Lives, Summer's Moon, the second Ghost House Underground collection (The Thaw, The Children, Offspring and Seventh Moon), an ad for Break.com and Fearnet.com, and Psycho Ward.

All in all, Psycho Ward is a bit--oh hell, a LOT--on the pedestrian side, but it's actually a pretty good example of the concept. It's a meatloaf movie, but it's one of the better meatloaf movies I've had lately. It won't be mistaken for anything big, nor is it on the same level as, say, an After Dark Horrorfest title, but it's certainly a decent quality piece that will do the job and do it passably well.

Want to receive an expanded version of Reel Advice as an E-Newsletter?? Email to thevideostoreguy@columnist.com with "The Advisor" in the subject line.  Steve Andersen, much to his own chagrin, is a five-plus year veteran of the direct to video market. He has spent an alarming amount of time in video stores and seeks to provide the public with advance information on all the video releases that they may never have heard of...whether they want to hear of them or not. Steve appears in one way or another weekly, biweekly, or monthly on such fine entertainment-related ezines as Film Threat, Dream Forge, Reel Horror, Acid Logic, Chaotic Culture Magazine, Malicious Bitch webzine, and many others. Readers, agents, or editors can email Steve at thevideostoreguy@columnist.com




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