Death Valley – DVD Review

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A group of twenty-something friends venture out into the California desert to attend a weekend long rave party. After the party is over, the group finds that their car battery has been stolen by a local biker gang. In their attempts to get it back, they start an all out war with the crazed biker gang and end up having to fight for their lives!

With all of the direct to DVD films that come out now, it’s really difficult to weed through the garbage and find something that’s actually worth your precious movie watching time. Especially movies like this one. It’s like the director made up a checklist on how to make a bad movie. 1) direct to DVD 2) direct to DVD horror 3) direct to DVD horror that was filmed in 2004 but won’t see any DVD shelf until 4 years later. He made up this checklist, broke the stereotypes associated, and made a good movie.

I’m going to go ahead and say something I’m not sure I’ve ever said about a direct to DVD horror film: this script rocks. When the movie started and a bunch of guys were piling in a car getting ready to go to a big party in the middle of nowhere, I was reminded of the stinker Catacombs from earlier this year. My eyes started rolling at everything they did and I mentally prepared myself to sit through another bad horror movie. But then it did something I wasn’t expecting. It started getting GOOD. The dialogue is quick and witty and I actually CARED for these characters. They were actual characters with personalities that we got to know, not just characters to introduce so they could be brutally killed at some point in the film. Yes, that happened too, but when was the last time you sat through a horror film and both cared about a character AND wanted to see who was going to die?

At first glance of the cast, the average person would be able to recognize Rider Strong’s name from either TV’s Boy Meets World or Eli Roth’s Cabin Fever, but as you watch the movie, just about everyone in the cast will make you say, “Haven’t I seen him/her somewhere before?” The answer is yes. Main character Josh, played by Eric Christian Olsen (Not Another Teen Movie and Dumb and Dumberer), is the one that eluded me the longest. Dash Mihok (Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet, I Am Legend) plays the leader of the biker gang with all the enthusiasm he brings to every role he’s in. Bumper Robinson is another one that might take you awhile, but if you think way back, you may remember him from any of the many TV shows he’s been a part of: Amen, Family Matters, Hanging with Mr. Cooper, A Different World. The only newcomer and the only female in the cast is played by Genevieve Cortese and she fits in nicely with all of these seasoned actors.

Of course the film has its bad points, but who cares? I had too much fun watching this one to care. And on top of having fun with it, Death Valley exceeded my expectations. The writer has written a good script and the cast is having enough fun to be entirely believable. True my expectations weren’t high, but if you’re in the mood for horror, this is worth a rental.

This is a low budget horror film and it looks like it. Everything’s gritty and shadowy and the picture quality isn’t all that great. The aspect ratio is 1.66:1, and you have the option of Spanish subtitles.

Making of Death Valley – A standard, yet very short, behind the scenes feature. 3:42

Deleted/Extended Scenes – Way too long!! There is absolutely nothing of importance here and all of them together are 18 minutes long.

Gag Reel – Very funny. The cast had a blast on set. This is a long montage of funny stuff they did. 7:25

This movie should be the standard by which all indie horror films are made. A witty script, a fun cast, just the right amount of tension, shaky cam, and a low budget look. I was very pleasantly surprised.


Allumination presents Death Valley. Directed by David Kebo, Rudi Liden. Starring Rider Strong, Dash Mihok, Eric Christian Olsen. Written by David Kebo, Rudi Liden. Running time: 95 minutes. Rated R. Released on DVD: July 22, 2008. Available at