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

Tooth and Nail

Tooth and Nail
Directed by Mark Young
Written by Mark Young
Starring Rachel Miner, Rider Strong, Robert Carradine, Michael Madsen
Produced by Jonathan Sachar, Patrick Durham
94 mins

Now, I'll confess openly that I was looking forward to "Tooth and Nail" only slightly less than the last film in the rotation. I am, and longtime readers will be able to back me up on this, terribly, terribly fond of dystopian fare, because I believe it's pretty much just a matter of time until we're actually IN a scenario like this so it pays to have some idea of what to do. And "Tooth and Nail" is dystopian with a capital D-Y-S, so I was ready.

Indeed, in "Tooth and Nail", the world has just gone all post-Apocalyptic-y, and that's given rise to warlords and downtrodden folk and all sorts of unpleasantness. If the opening montage is any indication of what went wrong, it's almost certainly energy-related. Lots of footage of traffic jams and oil derricks and such in here--they'll even tell at the end that what did it was, plain and simple, we just ran out of gas.

Which doesn't exactly make a lot of SENSE as the impetus for a global slaughterfest, but okay, I'll allow it. In fact, they make a pretty decent case for it, so I don't feel like I'm allowing anything intolerable.

And of course, they'll bludgeon you with the symbolism--just about everybody in the movie, or at least the good guys, was named after a car.

There aren't a whole lot of shocks or scares in "Tooth and Nail", and frankly, that's all right. It watches a lot more like an action movie with horrific elements than an actual horror movie, and that lends it a lot of good old fashioned heart-pumping adrenaline.

Perhaps the most interesting part about "Tooth and Nail" is how, in the time leading up until the climax and ending, it'll pretty much be the ladies responsible for the defense against the evil warlordish types. That's abundantly clever, and right out of left field. Top marks.

The ending will have a couple nice twists leading up to it, including the ever-popular "acid to the face".

All in all, a spectacularly clever addition to the 2007 After Dark Horrorfest. I'm very pleased with how this one turned out, and the extra twists made things all the more exciting. "Tooth and Nail" is an insane, gut-wrenching blast of horror.

Crazy Eights

Crazy Eights
Directed by James K. Jones
Written by Dan DeLuca, James K. Jones
Starring Traci Lords, Dina Meyer, George Newbern, Gabrielle Anwar
Produced by John Kaila, James K. Jones, Dan DeLuca, Patrick Moses
80 mins

We're getting to the end of the After Dark Horrorfest coverage, and as such, we're getting to the stuff I was most looking forward to seeing. Former porn diva Traci Lords is well on her way to being a bona-fide scream queen, and her appearance in "Crazy Eights" sure isn't going to hurt.

The plot, meanwhile, is also something that won't hurt--eight kids with a surprising secret in common go back to the place where they grew up to attend a friend's funeral. Said friend has some creepy last wishes, and those last wishes will tell the now grown-up kids a lot more than they ever wanted to know about their pasts, and the secret they forgot that binds them.

The first thing you should notice about "Crazy Eights" is that it goes so very far in trying to scare you, even from the outset. Some excellent audio and visual cues go into the narrative, turning what might be minor exposition into a jarring, nerve-rawing ride. But, considering the rather abbreviated runtime we're dealing with here, it's less of a surprise and rather more of a necessity. This thing HAS to move with blazing speed to try and pack it all into eighty minutes, so I definitely applaud them in still trying to get exposition out in front of us but also sparking it up.

Also worth noting about "Crazy Eights" is that, somehow, it manages to get more atmospheric the farther in you go. Normally, a movie will use atmosphere to build dread and then burn it off the farther in you get, almost as the audience gets used to its surroundings. Thus, the surroundings get less atmospheric, and as the net gain falls off, the movie will switch tracks to try for scares. "Crazy Eights", meanwhile, will simply change the setting WHILE it tries for scares, thus building a new batch of atmosphere-driven dread while burning it for the shock value.

"Crazy Eights" is one of the first movies I've ever seen that manages to have its cake and eat it too. It's like some kind of giant jigsaw puzzle in a room lit only by a single spotlight. You see little bits of it at a time, and the more you see, the more the puzzle starts to make sense. Eventually, by the end, you can see the whole picture, and that's when things get really scary.

"Crazy Eights" is a solid and skillfully executed film, and should definitely leave you plenty scared. It makes the most of its flimsy runtime and executes some truly spectacular scary moments, leaving it a taut, adrenaline-laced masterwork that will leave you wanting more.

The ending is a little bit flat, but it does manage to tie together the loose ends, even if it's a bit predictable alongside of its relative lack of scares.

The special features are limited to English and Spanish subtitles, along with Miss Horrorfest Contest webisodes.

All in all, seriously, really impressed with "Crazy Eights". It represents excellently just what the After Dark Horrorfest is about--it's a well-made scary movie that very seldom disappoints.