Reel Advice from the Video Store Guy
By Steve Anderson
August 1st, 2005

Insight of Evil

Directed by Nigel Hartwell

The Asylum, working its way toward being the Full Moon of the new millenium, brings us a murder mystery intermingled with vengeance from beyond the grave in Insight of Evil.

First off, I give The Asylum some due credit for making a truly foreboding menu for Insight of Evil. The music is very appropriate, and the distorted nature of the footage running behind the menu options lends that extra note of terror to the proceedings.

Even the distorted voice overs in the background force one to wonder, just what IS it we're about to watch here?

If only the movie could have lived up to the high expectations the menu established.

So what we have here is the story of a troubled high school, which pretty much sums up the whole state of public education these days. But Watertown High School has more troubles than the ordinary. All of Watertown's troubles start when one of Watertown High's students, Tanya Beach, loses her twin sister. And the girl's not dead...not that we know of, anyway. She's disappeared under mysterious circumstances.

But Tanya's not letting the vanished sister get in the way of high school antics, no sir or ma'am as the case may be. Tanya packs it up, against her mother's wishes, to go to a party with her friends in the midst of a lakeside cottage---

--ooooooh boy.

We all know where this is going, don't we? High school kids having uncondoned parties unsupervised at lakeside cottages never ends in a body count of less than three.

This will be no exception.

This cabin is the site of a really nasty murder scene that took place a few months prior, and currently holds one very pissed-off ghost.

And this ghost isn't going to be in a mood to drink 151 Rum and shake the proverbial ghostly booty to the newest Eminem song. No, there's going to be killing, and lots of it.

It's truly a wonder that, by now, movie studios haven't managed to think up any better premise for slaughtering promiscuous and rebellious teenagers. It's always some ghost / monster / maniac lurking in the woods / empty lot / abandoned amusement park / creepy roller disco looking to avenge the wrongs / slaughter the living that remind it of a past injustice of months / weeks / one thousand years ago.

You'll notice a lot of slashes in that last paragraph. No coincidence, because there are also a lot of slashes in Insight of Evil.

Never mind that the cast includes such bold type archetypes as: "The Troubled Teen," "The Party Girl," "The Drug Dealer," "The Player," The joke is, I'm not kidding. The characters are introduced by brief placards of text inserted in the film.

I'm going to admit, though, that there are a couple of good, solid shocks built into Insight of Evil. Bloody footprints just showing up for no apparent reason, things jumping out from behind, that sort of thing. They're scares, and despite their ultimately trite nature, they never really go out of style.

Strange how cheap shots never die.

The worst part is, I can't even TELL why the movie's CALLED Insight of Evil. If they really wanted to give us a better idea of what the movie was about, they could have just called it "Moron Teenagers Who Never Learn Killed By Yet Another Strange Thing."

But then, that wouldn't fit on the box very well, now would it?

The ending is a strange moulange of events, and while it's not exactly the best way to end things, being a bit on the confusing side, it does have a lot of unique charm to it. There's even a mild twist ending that'll leave you a little surprised.

At least until the music video kicks in.

Seriously, folks--the credit roll has a music video running in the background. What an incredibly STUPID move this was. Running a music video over the end credits is a move that verges on pandering, and it's a slap to the face of the audience to have to sit through this self-indulgent crap.

The special features include a promotional trailer and teaser for Insight of Evil, a theatrical trailer (this was apparently in theatres at one point!) the music video again, deleted scenes, and trailers for "Red Right Hand," "Pandora Machine," "The Fanglys," and "St. John's Wort."

All in all, Insight of Evil is really just the same movie we've all been watching for the last twenty or so years. Sure, it's a well-done ripoff, but when you come right down to it, it's still just a ripoff.

Hide and Creep

Directed by Nigel Hartwell
Okay, so we all knew this had to happen eventually.

What Southerners have been ranting about ever since they got their collective ass handed to them back in the mid-1800s has finally come to pass.

The South...Has Risen Again.

And it's hungry for people meat.

So what we have here is that, indeed, the South is rising again, at least in the town of Thorsby, Alabama. And it's what you expect--the zombies are hungry for human flesh, and attacking the living to get it. So now the town's video store clerk, a recently fired (for gross incompetence) deputy, a Homeland Defense agent, and a naked guy, must now rise up to defend the town.

I'm not kidding about that naked guy.

Indeed, the beleaguered video store clerk, God bless the video store guys of America and abroad, thank you all to pieces, is pretty much right. There ARE only three truly good American zombie movies, and George Romero made every one.

The rest are a collection of Romero ripoffs--some of which are better than others--and stuff too baffling to try and discuss even in THIS column, which every week confronts and rants about the most baffling parts of the video store shelves.

But at any rate, I've got to applaud "Hide and Creep" for being one of if not the first (that I can remember, anyway) to make a video store guy a major hero.

No, I'm not counting "Clerks." Though Randal is the ideological hero of the video store guy profession, he does not count as a hero, even as an antihero, because he doesn't actually do anything. He's a convenient foil for whatsisname at the Quick-Stop. You know, whiny Mr. "I'm-Not-Even-Supposed-To-Be-Here-Today".

But anyway, back to "Hide and Creep."

I could go through, and list every single crack-up moment that's in "Hide and Creep," but I'd need a two-part column just to do the job properly. Everything from our video store guy explaining the plot ("So what we've been hearing on talk radio about a conspiracy of aliens or the military to produce a race of flesh-eating ghouls to feed on the living is true, and people are renting zombie movies to learn how to defend themselves? Yeah...I can't rent to you any more.) to the unpleasant sight of a man waking up in the woods without pants or girlfriend ("Gail? Where's my car? ...where's my PANTS?) all in the first three minutes makes "Hide and Creep," without question, the single funniest full-length zombie movie I've ever seen.

The single funniest short zombie movie I've ever seen goes to "Snow Day, Bloody Snow Day," which I hear is making the film festival routes.

But anyway! Focus, dammit!

I can't believe it, but Harry Knowles actually got one RIGHT for a change. He said this was good stuff. But then again, with the crew at Film Threat backing his play, and even Kevin Smith's outlet nodding its assent, it's hard not to get it right.

"Hide and Creep" is unbearably good stuff. It's funny, it's bloody, it's violent, it's even a bit of social commentary, it's pretty much everything you could want in a zombie movie.

The ending is pretty much like the rest of the movie. Good, and funny, and pretty much what you could hope for. The one problem with indeed all zombie movies is that they stop, but they don't really end. The nature of the movie is that the problem is never really over--it goes on until all the participants are dead. But the movie has to stop somewhere.

That and I don't know HOW zombies suddenly got to be afraid of the dark....

Plus, there's a couple of absolutely fantastic twists to the ending that'll just amaze you. I'm not kidding.

The special features include audio options, feature commentary, a behind the scenes featurette, and a short film, "Birthday Call. that comes with some interesting pre-show commentary in the form of text. It's also surprisingly good for a three minute black and white film that doubles as a Coke endorsement. Product placement, anyone?

Plus, we get trailers for "War of the Worlds," "Frankenstein," "Jolly Roger: Massacre at Cutter's Cove," "Hide and Creep," and "Lethal Eviction."

All in all, "Hide and Creep" is a terrific addition to the American zombie film landscape, joining Romero among the greats.