Reel Advice from the Video Store Guy
By Steve Anderson
May 1st, 2009

Laid To Rest

Laid To Rest
Directed by Robert Hall
Written by Robert Hall
Starring Lena Headey, Bobbi Sue Luther, Kevin Gage, Sean Whalen
Produced by Bobbi Sue Luther, Chang Tseng
90 mins

I EXPECT more out of Anchor Bay than this. Really I do. Anchor Bay has been responsible for giving me a LOT of positively amazing stuff, from Hatchet to Behind the Mask and a host of other nifty pieces. The Anchor Bay name has always meant quality to me. Quality. Innovation. A never-ending flood of high-quality top-drawer titles.

The LAST thing I expect from them is cheesy slasher flicks.

And today, we're talking Laid To Rest, a cheesy slasher flick involving a fellow with the charming nom de boucherie of Chromeskull. It's even on his vanity license plate, for crying out loud. Anyway, Chromeskull has this habit of filming his kills via the shoulder-mounted video camera he constantly carries around, and as such, he's racked up quite a set of tapes. But for a young woman who just woke up in a coffin, she may well be the first one to get away from Chromeskull. Now, Chromeskull's got to catch up to the one that got away, and anyone else around her, who will also be getting killed in a loud, grotesque fashion.

First off, I don't know what the deal with this chick is, the one played by Bobbi Sue Luther, actor and producer. Because apparently she also lost about fifty IQ points in her tango with Chromeskull, insisting people call her Princess Gemstone on the strength of vague memories of a childhood toy. She's also forgotten how to speak like an adult, calls caskets "dead boxes" and is quite thoroughly confident that the "police lady" is the answer to all her problems.

Worse, Robert Hall clearly didn't have a lot of editing help with this beastie because he's left a goodish number of plot holes in the piece. Really baffling plot holes, like how does Stephen have an online connection in the middle of the country but no telephone? It's sure not cable, and I saw neither dish nor antenna around his house. Or how impossibly sharp is Chromeskull's knife that he can cut a person's skull in half at the jawline? Or better yet, how does a small convenience store in the middle of nowhere stock microcassettes for Chromeskull's camera AND every kind of ammunition EXCEPT the kind the people trying to escape Chromeskull need, .45 ACP?

There are entirely too many problems with Laid To Rest. Thankfully, they're small, it's just that there's a great whopping LOT of them. When you add this to an overall lackluster presentation to begin with, you get a recipe for disaster.

Especially when you add on the ending, where everyone just seems sort of confused for a while, then the credits start in.

The special features include audio options, a commentary track, English subtitles, a making of featurette, a special effects featurette, deleted scenes, a blooper reel, and a collection of trailers, most of which can only be accessed by starting the DVD. I wish they'd start making the trailers accessible from the DVD again, frankly.

All in all, this warmed-over drivel isn't worthy of Anchor Bay. I expect more from them, I really do, and half-baked slasher fare just doesn't cut it.

Dying Breed

Dying Breed
Directed by Jody Dwyer
Written by Michael Boughen, Rod Morris, Jody Dwyer
Starring Nathan Phillips, Leigh Whannell, Bille Brown, Mirrah Foulkes
Produced by Michael Boughen, Rod Morris
92 mins

All right, folks--strap in and brace yourself, because it's that special time of year again. Never mind that it seems to come at a different time every year, because even though it does, it still comes, and that's good enough.

It's After Dark Horrorfest time again, folks, and the time of year when horror buffs get to feel their mojo the very hardest. This time around, we're kicking things off with Dying Breed, a story that makes dinner-time fun-time once again.

While hunting for a rare tiger in the depths of Tasmania, four adventurous types discover the town of Sarah, formerly the home of the cannibalistic monster known as the Pieman. This would be bad enough under normal circumstances--stumbling across a lost town in the middle of nowhere that was the former home of a cannibal isn't exactly the thing you do on vacation. But here's where it gets worse; seems the town took a liking to the Pieman's way of life...and began to favor the long pig themselves.

Oh...and they're also needing fresh "breeding stock".

This is actually the kind of movie that Australians seem to flock to in droves--it reminds me greatly of Wolf Creek and I hoped and prayed going in that this wasn't going to suck anywhere near as hard as that miserable wreck did. And gratefully, it didn't. This isn't to say it was anything fantastic, but it definitely wasn't a complete waste of time. This is likely not the dog in the series.

What Dying Breed does not do well is scare anybody worth anything at all. This is really not scary. There's not a whole lot of blood, maybe a handful of jump scares, it's actually rather tame as horror movies go. With only a couple of exceptions this will be so sedate you'd think it'd qualify for PG-13 rank. This does change up somewhat in the last half hour of the movie, but aside from this it's actually pretty sedate.

However, what Dying Breed DOES do well is project malice. There is something very clearly wrong here--for the entire first hour you will be largely unable to shake the overwhelming feeling that there is SOMETHING very wrong here. Just what, who knows? And you won't know until the last half hour or so. This ultimate surprise is not so ultimate at all--there will actually be several of them before the end.

And the ending, meanwhile, will pack in tons of great surprises, so that's another plus in its account.

The special features include English and Spanish subtitles, a producer's trailer, a making of featurette, some Miss Horrorfest webisodes, and a collection of trailers to lead off--they're unaccessible from the disk, so you'll get to see them in the beginning if you don't skip over them.

All in all, the After Dark Horrorfest gets off to a fair start--let's just see how well it can hold up. Dying Breed starts out a bit slow, but turns out fairly well in the end.