Reel Advice from the Video Store Guy

The Crypt | Book of Blood

By Steve Anderson
December 1st, 2010

The CryptThe Crypt
***
DVD
Directed by Craig McMahon
Written by Craig McMahon
Starring Sarah Oh, Cristen Irene, Mike Ranallo, Joanna Ke
Produced by Craig McMahon
R
2009
106 mins

The Crypt was actually part of a list of movies that I'd been meaning to see for some time, but found only recently. And since I found it, I'm going to watch and see if it turns out anywhere near as well as I'm hoping it will.

The Crypt follows a group of young delinquents who've kind of grown up. Needing cash, they decide to set out after a legend that says a group of townsfolk, back around the Great Depression, decided to bury their jewelry and whatnot in an underground crypt so as to hide it from the government. No one managed to recover it, so it's still underground and waiting for someone to take it. When the group plunges into the dark after the forgotten loot, they discover that said loot is protected by a force more powerful than anything they would have expected.

Combine a zombie movie with a heist movie--two excellent subgenres by themselves--and you get The Crypt, which probably would have been quite a bit better if it had had a better budget. But as it stands, it's still pretty solid if a little bit repetitive. See, most of this movie takes place in the underground crypts, hence the name, The Crypt. It would be incredibly difficult to swallow a movie called The Crypt that took place wholly in a New Jersey bus station, though then again, maybe not.

Cheap jokes at Jersey's expense aside, the end result here is a surprisingly entertaining horror-action romp that provides some pretty decent scares but can't quite seem to get off the ground as the whole thing is limited by its very nature. We're going to spend entreily too much time underground to fully appreciate the zombie horror before us, and there are going to be entirely too many zombies to get off a proper heist.

The ending is a little confusing and a bit of a downer, but aside from that, it does a fairly decent job of getting its final points across.

The special features include Spanish subtitles, director's commentary track, and a handful of deleted scenes.

All in all, The Crypt is a solid, fair title that will do a decent job, but if you go in expecting a lot then you'll likely be sorely disappointed.

Book Of Blood, Produced by Clive BarkerBook of Blood
**
DVD
Directed by John Harrison
Written by John Harrison, Darin Silverman
Starring Jonas Armstrong, Sophie Ward, Clive Russell, Paul Blair
Produced by Clive Barker
R
2009
100 mins

When you start out a movie with a quote like this:

The dead have highways, running through the wasteland behind our lives, bearing an endless traffic of departed souls. They can be heard in the broken places of our world, through cracks made by acts of cruelty, violence and depravity. They have signposts, these highways, and crossroads, and intersections. And it is at these intersections where the dead mingle. And sometimes, spill over into our world.

It's pretty safe to say you won't be dealing with something family friendly. No sir, it takes a pompous, overblown and grammatically incorrect (And it is at these intersections THAT the dead mingle, not WHERE) to kick off a proper Clive Barker movie, and that's what we're tackling with Book Of Blood.

We're following a couple of folks out to get a little paranormal investigation done. They're trying to do what most every other paranormal investigators is out to do--get proof of the paranormal. And they think they just might have it in the form of Simon, a young man who's recently joined their group. They're investigating a house where some horrific and thoroughly paranormal murders have taken place, and they just might get the proof they're after...though they may not want it before it's done.

I'll give Book of Blood a lot of credit for being scary. It's a great atmospheric ghost movie, and brings several good scares to the table besides. And even better, it actually manages to hold this up until about the last half hour, where as is so often the case with Clive Barker movies, it collapses under its own weight and stops making sense.

If you actually do see this movie, and I don't really recommend it, I suggest you watch the last fifteen minutes or so with one question in mind: "what happens when they run out of space to write on"?

In fact, the whole thing really comes off rather pompous, like Barker attempted to write some kind of horror-movie treatise on writing horror stories, and it just didn't work out.

The ending is somewhat confused, given that we're dealing with two short stories at once that have been intermingled to make a movie, but otherwise, not too bad.

The special features include English and Spanish subtitles, audio options, a behind the scenes featurette, a variety of trailers for Book of Blood, and trailers for The Midnight Meat Train, Saw V, The Haunting in Connecticut, and a commercial for break.com.

All in all, Book of Blood isn't the worst movie out there--until the last few minutes in fact it's actually pretty good. But it's that last few minutes that just can't keep the whole thing together, and the rest of the movie will suffer as a result.

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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