Reel Advice from the Video Store Guy
By Steve Anderson
June 1st, 2008

Knock Knock

Knock Knock
Directed by Joe Ariola
Written by Joe Ariola
Starring Nicole Abisinio, Chris Bashinellie, Kat Castaneda, John Cipriano Jr.
Produced by Joe Ariola
88 mins

The first three minutes of "Knock Knock", which basically revolve around someone playing ding-dong-ditch and following up this cheesy, childish little stunt by punching through what looks like a solid mahogany door leave me nonplussed at best.

Sad to say, this low-budget shitstravaganza isn't going to manage to follow up any better.

The plot is rather simple enough--someone's going around killing popular kids at a high school and leaving their bodies scattered around like so many Twinkie wrappers. Like the title suggests, he'll be doing plenty of knocking, but if you tell him you can't come in, he'll just come right through anyway.

If it sounds like you've seen it already, then you won't be saddened at all to discover that, yes, indeed, you have. This is a relic beyond relics--they were doing this kind of crap back in the eighties, for crying out loud, and it's no more satisfying now than it was then. It's an extra sad blow, making the guy nobody sees or hears anything out of until the last fifteen minutes or so, like they just thought "Well, we can't very well make the possibly mildly retarded janitor the killer, so let's just make him a huge red herring instead!" and so tacked on one guy extra to fill out the killer role.

This isn't just sloppy filmmaking, this is balls-out LAZY filmmaking. And yes, I know this film probably had a shooting budget better suited to buying groceries than actual moviemaking, but surely we can get a killer a better mask than some stupid papier-mache setup. Even the original Jason Voorhees had a bag on his head; this halfwit's wandering around with something from arts and crafts on his face. By about the halfway point I began to wonder why he even bothered wearing a mask. Several of his victims didn't actually see him coming, and those that did didn't see him coming didn't last long enough to have much of a reaction to him.

The ending introduces the killer, without so much as foreshadowing, and makes him some kind of superhuman juggernaut who can take half a dozen rounds to the chest as well, so it's cheesy as all hell. The special features include four different featurettes.

All in all, to play with the movie's own joke: Knock knock! Who's there? One star, bitches. This thing sucks sour frog ass. This warmed-over slop is just plain pointless. They're not doing anything new here, nor are they doing anything good with what's already been done. Definitely not one to waste any time on.

Mulberry St.

Mulberry St.
Directed by Jim Mickle
Written by Nick Damici, Jim Mickle
Starring Nick Damici, Kim Blair, Ron Brice, Bo Corre
Produced by Linda Moran, Adam Folk
84 mins

Well, this is it, kids...the end of the road. A kind of zombie movie, which means it's my greatest hope for the entire After Dark Horrorfest. And while the dystopian thrills of "Tooth And Nail" proved definitely to be top of the heap, will "Mulberry Street" manage to take over?

Or will this zombie flick prove as rotten as the corpses?

While watching, in the opening minutes, I was quite thoroughly prepared to lambaste this sucker for being slow to start. Small run times require fast pacing, and one wasted minute is a minute no one can afford. But thankfully, they keep the pace going with plenty of interesting surprises, as well as a nice look at just how bad things can get when you've got a whole lot of people in one confined space.

In other words, when things get real bad--be it a rat attack or Zombie Apocalypse or what have you, New York City is not where you want to be.

Perhaps what's most interesting about "Mulberry Street" is that it's basically a kind of Rat / Chud Apocalypse. I know how ludicrous that sounds, but when you see it, you'll understand in horrifically clear detail how true it is. Watching news reports intermingle with the actual bloodsport on the streets gives the whole an almost surrealistic sense. As the trains stop running and the arc-sodiums lose their glow, the city begins to crumble in this jangled-nerve sort of affair. It's amazing, really. It's a slow-motion train wreck, a cacophony at thirty-three and a third, and eminently watchable.

The ending is fairly well standard for this sort of movie, with a whole lot of good guys down and the whole attack problem less than resolved. But still, it ends solidly enough so there's no reason to complain.

The special features are surprisingly extensive, including storyboards, deleted scenes, outtakes, early sketches, a behind the scenes featurette, makeup tests, visual effects tests, audio and video options, plus Spanish subtitles and English subtitles and closed captions.

All in all, a nicely done bit of near-Zombie Apocalypse by "Mulberry Street", and definitely worthy of a top ranking. Arguably the best of the '07 Fest, it may be tough to say "Manhattan's being attacked by rat people", but it's definitely not tough to watch!