Reel Advice from the Video Store Guy

Fallen Angels | Miner's Massacre

By Steve Anderson
November 1st, 2004

Fallen Angels
DVD
*
Directed by Ian David Diaz
R
97 Min

Every time Jeff Fahey stars in a cheap, poorly done piece of direct-to-video slop, an angel gets its wings.

Right now, by my count, there are about three angels in heaven still taking the bus to work.

And you can tell right off that this one's going to be a doozy. We kick it off with a girl waiting on the side of a road in the countryside for a football player to show up. He then proceeds to give her a bunch of stories about why it took him so long, ending with the line, "you look good enough to DIE for!"

And before the audience can spit back an acerbic, "Oh, you WILL!", he takes three shots in the stomach from a trio of masked men.

Funny, though...their weapons look strangely like paintball guns. Anyone with a pause button on their DVD player will be able to see it fairly readily--just pause after Mr. Football Hero takes his gutshots.

And surprise surprise...they ARE paintball guns! But I've never seen paintball guns with muzzle flashes before...but anyway. Awful and awfully predictable joke aside, we carry on with the plot, if this piece of inexcusable tripe can be called a plot. Basically, what's going on here is that a former professor at a Catholic girls' school is stalking one of the students, and it ends poorly. Poorly as in a school-consuming fireball. But when an English documentary team comprised of one of the surviving girls goes back to investigate, Things Go Wrong once again.

Leading us to our first plot hole of the day...for an abandoned girls' school that just had a fireball race through its upper half, it looks really, REALLY well maintained.

It's plain to see that the documentary crew is out to build the best performance it can at the cost of its participants. Meanwhile, a serial killer in a rain slicker is stalking the documentary crew and its participants.

I recommend bringing a book along if you watch this, because the first hour or so is a yawn big enough to cure insomnia. The last half-hour is a bit better because that's where all the "survival horror" events kick in, and even then it's slow and poorly done.

Frankly, the whole MOVIE is slow and poorly done. Jeff Fahey's incredibly lethargic performance watches as though it were on stilts, and the rest of the cast of assorted no-names is unbelievable and wholly unsympathetic.

And while I'm at it, Michael Ironside, what the hell are you DOING in this picture?? You're a GOOD actor! Why are you wasting your time with slop that considers Jeff Fahey a big enough actor to get top billing?!

The ending is, once again, poorly done. It's not that much of a twist to begin with except for its sheer improbability.

Fallen Angels is pure and simple garbage, shovelreel at its very worst. It robs better movies with bigger budgets of plotlines ("Fallen Angels" is at its lowest terms really little more than a hybrid of "Scream" and "Urban Legend" with some minor alterations thrown in), and refuses to make anything new or interesting out of what it doesn't steal directly.

The extra features menu is a perfect metaphor for the quality of the film, that is to say, none at all. There ARE no special features. No commentary or deleted scenes or filmographies. Not even a subtitle or options for a change in audio quality.

So, all in all, Fallen Angels is just one more sad retread of films that were already a little tired when they were first released.

 

 

Miner's Massacre
DVD
*
Directed by John Carl Buechler
R
90 mins

I find myself personally offended by movies that won't start until they've run half a dozen trailers, and Miner's Massacre does just that. The fact that there's no way around it, no way to cancel or fast forward or do anything BUT sit and watch trailers for perfectly awful movies that I've in many cases seen already (refer to my previous review of Snake Island, and you'll see what I mean) just infuriates me.

Seriously.

So Miner's Massacre already has one strike against it. Ror this special brand of video terrorism it's subjected me to...it had better be a DAMN good movie.

Well, already I'm worried. The opening forty-five seconds features more Playstation quality CG than I've seen since, well, since the Playstation era. It's really rather shoddy, given what we've seen so far.

Having firmly established the quality of the so-called special effects we'll be getting a gander at throughout our little film, let's see if we can't rustle up a decent story. After all, a well-crafted story can often make up for even the crappiest special effects, and the attempt can often endear audiences.

Sadly, this particular plotline is about as endearing as a pile of skinned puppies. This particular piece of still-warm sewage is about a miner that comes back from the dead for no apparent reason by way of an altar he apparently chose to die next to. Amazing foresight on the miner's part.

"Yep, Ah'm not a-dyin' 'til Ah git back to my say-tanic alter up in th' foothills. Then Ah kin come back and start killin' anybody Ah sees with gold!"

And then, we segue over to a young couple who receive a gold nugget in the mail. They decide to go find more. Not exactly a real predictability bucker, now is it?

Worse yet, ANOTHER couple crops up, heading on into the town where we just saw the undead miner chop a man to bits. Miner's Massacre isn't very long on cohesion. I do however give it some bonus points for prominently featuring a ghost town. I have a soft spot for ghost towns and seeing one in Miner's Massacre was quite pleasant.

But then, sadly, the rest of it falls apart, becoming just another slasher movie with a cheap backstory and a villain with inhuman strength and implausible tolerances for pain.

I couldn't BE more sick of slop like this. It does nothing new, it contributes nothing, it's just one more gorefest trying to market itself in an already glutted marketplace. WHY can't we get any originality out there?

Extra features, apart from the rack of previews we were subjected to for the first few minutes, are virtually nonexistent. Only a trailer and English / Spanish language voice tracks are available for you to select. No point in even wasting DVD plastic with these "options."

All in all, Miner's Massacre is yet another piece of cinematic garbage in a landfill stuffed with similar products. It depends on cliches that were old when they first showed up and should have been retired years ago. It attempts to fool its viewer with a blaring soundtrack of almost inappropriate titles dredged from someone's idea of a bargain bin.

It's garbage, and I hate it.

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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