Reel Advice from the Video Store Guy
By Steve Anderson
June 1st, 2011

The Tomb

The Tomb
Directed by Michael Staininger
Written by John Shirley
Starring Wes Bentley, Kaitlin Doubleday, Sofya Skya, Michael Madsen
89 mins

So we're carrying on with the Fangoria Frightfest series, and today, The Tomb gets its turn in the barrel. And though it's based on earlier work by Edgar Allen Poe, this one isn't going to be so much literary as it is outright confused.

The Tomb, based on Poe's Ligeia, follows Jonathan Merrick, a writer who's just found a beautiful young woman following him around college campus tours. She's got an illness of the fatal variety, and our young beauty wants to beat Death at all costs. Her idea of a fair cost includes things like forcibly removing other people's souls and pulling Jonathan away from his fiancee. But Ligeia, our young beauty, convinces Jonathan to move into an old mansion on the Black Sea with her, and doing so slowly drives Jonathan insane.

Yes, that's what we're dealing with here. Apparently this is work from Poe's later "I'm blasted out of my mind on absinthe and I'll write whatever hallucination pops into my head" period. Needless to say, the end result will not be very accessible for the normal rank and file movie buff. But though it's short on making sense, it does still manage to be fairly scary in that we're dealing with a lot of stuff we don't usually see in horror film. And that's certainly a point in this one's favor.

Is this the best the Fangoria Frightfest has to offer? No, not hardly. In fact, this one's pretty far down the list and the only reason it's not on the dead bottom is because I haven't finished the rest of the series yet. It's not that The Tomb is particularly bad, it's just that it's not very well put together, which is definitely something unusual as far as a Fangoria Frightfest movie goes. It's not particularly scary--I've seen television shows that were more frightening--and it doesn't make a whole lot of sense. That doesn't make the end result anything much worth watching.

And that's sad. Why? Because this is an interesting idea, make no mistake there. They've got a good plan here, so why not take the ball and run with it? Why not make the execution on par with the concept? If they'd done that they would have had a great movie. But as it is we've got a boring mishmash of a movie that only seems to make sense one time in ten.

The ending does have a couple good twists to it, but frankly, even this is just too little too late in terms of getting a little bit of good footage to overwhelm the headscratching yawner we had just minutes ago.

The special features your choice of English 5.1 channel surround or English 2.0 Stereo audio, deleted scenes, a trailer for The Tomb, and a variety of trailers, including Road Kill, Hunger, Grimm Love, Dark House, The Tomb, Fragile, The Haunting, and Pig Hunt.

All in all, The Tomb is definitely down toward the bottom of the tier as far as rankings go for the Fangoria FrightFest. Still, this certainly could have been a lot worse, so don't feel bad if you recently rented it.

Road Kill

Road Kill
Directed by Dean Francis
Written by Clive Hopkins
Starring Xavier Samuel, Bob Morley, Georgina Haig, Sophie Lowe
90 mins

We've had some fine stuff so far come out of the Fangoria Frightfest, and for those wondering whether Road Kill will live up to the expectations set so far, well, you'll only be a bit disappointed. Turns out Road Kill is a strange idea that will deliver, and deliver reasonably well.

Two vaguely friendly couples set out for a camping trip in the Australian outback together, until they find themselves run off the road in a spiralling, flipping mess of twisted metal by a massive semi truck (called, apparently, a "road train" in Australia). Stranger yet, though, is that the truck has stopped not too far from their crash site. They go to investigate and find the truck seemingly empty, so they commandeer it in a bid to get back to civilization. But they're quickly set upon by the truck's original driver, a psychopath who runs at them with guns blazing. But that's not where their problems end, rather, only begin. Now they've got to survive both a truck with a nightmarish secret and their own dark secrets to get out of their mess alive.

Going in, it looked like a pretty good idea. Combine Christine with Joy Ride, drop the ridiculous CB radio action, and you've got a real recipe for something interesting. And it's not as though the Aussies don't know their horror--yes, this is an Australian product, they did do Wolf Creek after all--so experience coupled with a clever plotline should have been a winner from the word go.

And it didn't do too badly, either. It was actually a pretty scary concept, and they did some things with it I definitely didn't see coming. There are some very nice twists in here, and much of what's coming here you probably won't see coming either. It's entertaining enough, though they did end up trying a few things that came off a bit confusing, at least as far as I was concerned. Plus there are more than a few unanswered questions left as a result of this. I wanted to know just where this truck came from, who was responsible for it, and things like that. I was left a bit disappointed as a result, but still, what was here was done reasonably well, given the circumstances.

The ending is a little depressing and inconclusive, setting up the stage for a possible sequel, and though there are many other sequels I'd sooner see first, we could certainly do much worse on the sequel front than this.

The special features include audio options (but nary a subtitle to be had in any language), a making of featurette, director commentary, deleted scenes (also with director commentary), and trailers for Road Kill, Pig Hunt, Fragile, The Haunting, Grimm Love, Spirit Trap, Dark House, and Hunger.

All in all, not the best the Fangoria Frightfest has had to offer so far, but Road Kill will still provide the solid sort of horror we've come to expect thus far.