After Dark HorrorFest 2 – DVD Review

afterdarkHF2
Available at Amazon.com

In November of 2006, After Dark and Lionsgate knew that there needed to be a change in the way the horror genre was going. So many remakes were being made, forcing originality right out the window. People were going to horror films and walking out of the theatres with smiles on their faces and laughter roaring instead of coming out with looks of fear on their faces and tears in their eyes. Things just weren’t happening the way they were supposed to when crowds flocked to theatres in order to get a big dosage of fright and walked out with nothing but sheer delight. Therefore the HorrorFest was born.

Nicknamed “Eight Films To Die For,” these eight films would be shown in theatres for one weekend and one weekend only. They promised to bring forth what today’s horror films didn’t quite have and that they were lacking. Showcased as the horror films that showed the things others didn’t and everything the fright fans truly wanted; the first After Dark HorrorFest brought out such films as Grave Dancers, Dark Ride, and Reincarnation. Not many of the actors were known and barely anything had leaked out about what the films were to show their audiences. The HorrorFest was destined to be something different and all the things the fear-rush chasing fans really wanted.

Needless to say it was a success and another HorrorFest was called for in the fall of 2007, only this time things were going to be a bit different. Not only would there be “Eight More Films To Die For,” but fans would get a bit more of a chance to check them out. Instead of just one weekend like in 2006, fans would get en entire week to sit down and enjoy the fear that they have pined over for so long. More time, more chances, and more fear. After Dark wanted to try and recreate the success of their first HorrorFest and they also wanted to keep bringing horror back to its roots by showing the things that other films were afraid to.

Borderland


Starring: Brian Presley, Rider Strong, Jake Muxworthy, Beto Cuevas, Martha Higareda, Marco Bacuzzi, Roberto Sosa, Jose Maria Yazpik, Damian Alcazar, Sean Astin

Three friends are all ready to head off on their separate ways and go to different colleges. Having been together for years, they know that one more night of fun and being together is just what they need. But what fun is it if you have limitations? So off to Mexico they go for a night of drinking, drugs, and a couple prostitutes. Ed, Henry, and Phil never quite expected the night that was before them.

The three guys just wanted to enjoy one final adventure together, but fun things just weren’t in the cards for them that night. After some magic shrooms and alcohol infect their minds, Phil ends up being kidnapped by a group of men involved in a murderous satanic cult. Once Henry and Ed realize what has happened, they set off to rescue their friend and make sure he is safe. But by sticking their noses into others’ business, Phil’s life isn’t the only one on the line now.

Borderland would have to go in the books here as one of my top films from this year’s HorrorFest. It is believable (not just because it is based on a true story), tension-filled, and will keep you wondering what type of sacrifice will happen next. It is very entertaining and while lacking on scares; the disturbing factor is raised a notch with some of the kill scenes and other happenings. The person who simply made the film for me though is Sean Astin. It is great seeing him in the role of a psychopathic cult follower which is far from the roles he’s normally in. He pulls off the redneck bum persona to perfection and simply rules every scene he’s in.

Special Features

Rituales de Sangre – This close to thirty minute feature goes deep into the cult’s story in real life and what parts of it were included in the film. Quite interesting actually and gives a lot of information.

Audio Commentary – Director Zev Berman, director of photography Scott Kevan, producer Lauren Moews, and actor Brian Presley are together on commentary here. Not much is said here except for everyone talking about what is happening on screen or how it was during filming.

Inside Zev’s Head – This is a feature that is close to twenty-one minutes long and simply goes over the history of director Zev Berman and then discusses how the film came to be from real life happenings.

Crazy Eights


Starring: Traci Lords, Dina Meyer, George Newburn, Gabrielle Anwar, Dan Deluca, Frank Whaley

Six friends have returned for the funeral of a friend they haven’t really seen in close to twenty years. Honoring his last wish to find a time capsule they buried as children, the group sets out with a map and finds it in an old abandoned house. Upon further examination of the capsule and its contents, they end up trapped in an old condemned hospital where they begin to remember spending time in as children. It is then that the eighth member of their group joins them in not so subtle ways.

Oh my dear Jesus is this ever a bad film. There is nothing about it that makes you want to even keep watching it yet alone own it for your DVD collection. You’d think that some of the talent in it could at least muster some enjoyment, but no, that just really doesn’t seem possible or feasible at all. And by talent I am talking about Frank Whaley and George Newburn. Traci Lords’ talent is still in her old movie profession.

A-hem.

The scares are generic, the acting is horrible by all, the music is atrocious and badly placed, and it is just downright dumb. Crazy Eights stands for everything that the AD HorrorFest claims it isn’t. You don’t get to see any of the kills actually happen. None of the gore or blood is visible until after someone is already dead. The ending is predictable once the film actually lets you know what is going on. That’s about forty minutes into it making you sit halfway through it before even having a clue. Here’s a better idea. Don’t even sit through that much of it.

Special Features

None

The Deaths Of Ian Stone


Starring: Mike Vogel, Jaime Murray, Christina Cole, Michael Feast

Mike Stone is a man that doesn’t ever cause problems for anyone. He merely leads his life one day at a time and just goes by the motto of what goes around, comes around. Being the Good Samaritan that he is, he stops his car one night on his way home to help a man lying in the middle of the road. Hoping he can be of some help, Ian goes to check on him but ends up becoming a victim instead of a savior. The body is not of human origin and ends up violently killing Ian making his good deed turn out to be his last. Or so he possibly thought.

The next day Ian awakens and finds himself in his office and working away as if nothing ever happened. He knows that something went on last night, but he can’t quite remember what. Ian is working and sees hi girlfriend Jenny in his office, yet she is no longer his girlfriend but merely someone he works with. Not quite comprehending what is going on, Ian tries to get a grasp on this new reality but is killed again before he can fully understand. Each day Ian wakes up and his life is somewhat different and he only has small memories of his past existences. Jenny is always there in some capacity, but it’s also always different. Ian realizes something is wrong and needs to find out why he is being killed all the time and how he can make it stop.

Wow is all I have to say because this film truly impressed me. The Deaths Of Ian Stone takes one of my favorite films of all time, Groundhog Day, and puts a demented twist on it. It incorporates small pieces of other films like Final Destination and The Butterfly Effect and throws them into the mix as well. It isn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but is quite creative believe it or not. Everything starts out kind of slow but picks up considerably by the time Ian is killed the first time and keeps going at a nice pace from there. The ending could have been better, but it’s not like it disappointed or anything.

Special Features

None

Lake Dead


Starring: Alex Quinn, Tara Gerard, Kelsey Crane, Kelsey Wedeen, Jim Devoti, Vanessa Viola, Malea Richardson, James C. Burns, Trevor Torseth, Dan Woods

Three young sisters inherit a motel in California along with a good amount of land and a lake. This could be the beginning of something great for them and fulfill all of their wildest dreams. But first they must determine if they are going to keep the place or just sell it and be done with it. They settle on the idea of camping out up there in hopes it will help their final decision. The motel and lake used to belong to their grandfather who died a mysterious death at the hands of a police officer, and it may not be a memory the girls intend of keeping around. Little do they know that there are a few people out there hoping to end their lives in the same mysterious ways.

Ugh.

Yet another film that does nothing to instill fear in anyone or by any means do anything creative or original. It actually does something somewhat new and innovative by having the mysteriousness of the story not include some type of creature but just normal serial killers at a camp, but that doesn’t make it good. It is boring, stupid, and just downright insulting to scare fans by calling it a horror film.

Special Features

None

Mulberry St


Starring: Nick Damici, Kim Blair, Ron Brice, Bo Corre, Tim House, Larry Fleischman

Clutch is a former boxer that does everything he can to just try and get by in the world. He has his bills to be concerned with and needs to do whatever he can to make ends meet and make sure everything gets paid each month. Clutch is currently awaiting his daughter Casey’s arrival back from home from Iraq. Soon things get really weird as his daughter makes it back to town and tries to get home. A strange virus is filling the city and being carried by rats that pass it on to humans by biting them. After they are bitten, they morph into rat people that fight one another and feed off of others. Clutch and a few others hole up in his apartment and try to survive the outbreak hoping his daughter will soon get home safe.

How friggin weird does that sound? Very weird of course, but it still makes for one of the very best films in this entire collection. Mulberry Street actually does all of the things that HorrorFest claims all of its films will do. It presents a new type of terror that reminds me of Cloverfield. The horror is up close and even though it sounds rather ludicrous, it is actually made very believable.

To make things even more terrifying, a lot of what you’ll see and fear in Mulberry Street, you really won’t see at all. The film leaves so much to the viewer’s imagination that what you’ll do is end up driving yourself crazy with wonder more then actually being scared by what you see in front of you. Sound and strict mind games instill some of the biggest feelings of dread and terror in you that if your surround speakers are hooked up, then be prepared to constantly look over your shoulder. You’ll also pick your feet up onto the couch. Especially if there is space underneath it.

Special Features

Storyboards – See nine minutes worth of the film through the use of storyboards.

Deleted Scenes – There is a single deleted scene lasting a little over two minutes and adds nothing.

Outtakes – Three minutes of flubbed lines, giggling, and the usual mess-ups.

Early Director Sketches – This minute and a half feature is nothing more then some simple hand drawn sketches from the director depicting particular scenes and characters in the film. Some of them are very crude but spot on as well.

Behind The Scenes – The Rats – Here is a look at the rats and how they were treated during filming and were directed to do as they were needed. This feature last right around three minutes.

Makeup Test – Three and a half minutes of barely being able to see anything through a shaky and blurry handheld camera. Some blood stuff and rats are shown.

Visual Effects Test – This special feature is listed on the DVD case, but I couldn’t find it anywhere on the disc itself.

Nightmare Man


Starring: Tiffany Shepis, Blythe Metz, Luciano Szafir, James Ferris, Hanna Putnam, Jack Sway, Richard Moll

Ellen and her husband William want nothing more then to have a child, but it just doesn’t seem to be in the cards no matter how hard they try. Resorting to desperate measures, Ellen buys some sort of new-age fertility mask thinking it can’t possibly hurt to try it. Upon arrival of the mask, Ellen knows there was some kind of mistake as it is in the shape of an evil demon and can’t possibly be something to help a couple make a baby. It is then that her problems are far worse then shipping issues. She begins seeing horrible hallucinations of demons and things chasing her that she can’t even determine if they are real or not.

William has had enough of it and decides to have his wife committed to an insane asylum so off they go through the woods to the nearest one. Along the way, though, their bad luck continues and they run out of gas stranding them. William decides to hike back down the road and some gas, but that leaves Ellen all alone with the car and her “hallucinations.” The Nightmare Man begins haunting her forcing her to run through the woods to get away from him. It is then that she stumbles upon a cabin and a few campers who have no idea what they are getting into when they decide to help her.

Believe it or not, Nightmare Man isn’t as bad as it sounds. And the reason it is so much fun is because it truly is as bad as it sounds. Confused? Let me explain. Nightmare Man is a simple slasher flick with the tricky plotlines of Wishmaster thrown into it. It’s quite hard for us (the viewers) or even anyone in the film to actually know what is real or simply a figment of Ellen’s imagination. It makes for some amusing and tense-filled situations that usually end in bloodbaths. One of the better films in this HorrorFest and one that can be enjoyed by true old-school horror fans.

Special Features

Audio Commentary – Director Rolfe Kanefsky, producer Esther Goodstein, and actress Tiffany Shepis provide a quite enjoyable commentary that will keep you entertained for a second run-through of the film. It is quite amusing and provides a lot of extra information on the film without them just talking about what is going on at the time.

Extended Scenes – There are a handful of extra scenes that wouldn’t have really added anything to the film if they had been left in, nor do they take away by being left out.

Creating A Nightmare – I would have to say that this entire behind the scenes featurette was done by a two year old on crack with a video camera. It has its entertaining moments but is rather generic for the most part and kind of boring to watch as a whole.

Flubbing A Nightmare – This feature lasts four minutes and is mostly of the crew messing up their lines or the scenes, but its good for a few laughs.

Tiffany’s Behind The Scenes – Tiffany Shepis gets close to seventeen minutes of her own to simply play around on the set and film it as she goes along. Eh.

Stills Gallery – Five minutes worth of still photos from some candid shots off camera and some taken during filming.

Tooth And Nail


Starring: Rachel Miner, Rider Strong, Nicole Duport, Michael Kelly, Alexandra Barreto, Emily Young, Robert Carradine, Vinnie Jones, Michael Madsen

It is far into the future and almost all life on Earth now ceases to exist. Oddly enough, the bulk of the world’s population has been done in by the fact that fuel had stopped being produced. It sent the world into anarchy and only a small few happened to make it. A band of survivors have holed themselves up in an abandoned hospital and are simply trying to live life in no luxury, but merely survival mode.

One day a group of the survivors run across a small girl named Neon who is out by herself. They originally decide to bring her back and let her join their group, but soon realize there is no way they can afford to let her take up some of their food. She ends up talking her way into letting them stay, but it could be the worst mistake they ever made. Their leader is soon killed and Neon takes over control as a horde of cannibals start to torment and haunt the group hoping to make them their next meal. All of their hopes lie in Neon, but they simply must find ways to survive.

Tooth And Nail ranks right up there with Crazy Eights as some of the worst films in this collection. It just makes no sense and is incredibly dumb. First of all, having the world almost come to an end because of gas becoming extinct? Come on now, really? Second of all, the characters have some of the stupidest names in creation. Ford, Neon, Viper, Dakota, Torino…it’s like the world almost ended and everyone decided to take the name of their favorite vehicle. It just is not an enjoyable film and you are going to long for it to be over because it is quite predictable and utterly dull.

Special Features

None

Unearthed


Starring: Emmanuelle Vaugier, Luke Goss, Charlie Murphy, Beau Garrett, Tommy Dewey, Tonantzin Carmelo

Sheriff Annie Flynn has control of a small desert town and also happens to be an alcoholic. In between drinks, she heads out and makes sure that all is right with the cattle rustlers and everything remains peaceful. One day a bad accident cuts off the main highway into town so she simply heads over to check it out and make sure all is handled. While out there, Annie finds pieces of an odd animal stuck to the grill of one of the trucks and isn’t quite sure what to make of it. If anything, it’s got her attention and given her something to do for at least one night. She grabs a few bits of the creature and takes them home so her scientist friend can check it out.

While Sheriff Annie is checking it out, a few weary travelers have made their way to town and are having a bit of car trouble and end up spending the night in a nearby service station. It is then that they realize the trouble that can befall them by spending time in a strange town. The creature that Sheriff Annie found a piece of is actually a giant bug that has been sleeping underground for years and has now been awakened and is ready to feed. She is the only person who can do anything and she must now battle the evil bug as well as her own demons before everyone ends up dead.

This is nothing more then a generic horror film and that’s all. You are already going to know who will die early on and exactly what the ending will be. It isn’t scary and is by no means thrilling. Some of the blood and such is nice since the HorrorFest is supposed to show things that most horror films don’t, and I’ll admit there is a fair amount of gore to be had here. But that is all it has going for it period.

Special Features

None

The films are shown in a variety of Widescreen formats including 2.35:1 (Borderland, The Deaths Of Ian Stone); 2.37:1 (Crazy Eights); 1.78:1 (Lake Dead, Nightmare Man, Tooth And Nail); 1.85:1 (Mulberry St); and 2.40:1 (Unearthed). The quality really varies as films like Lake Dead and Nightmare Man show deep colors and the darker scenes look really good. Then you see films like Crazy Eights where it has a seventies feel too it throughout or Tooth And Nail with its random blurry moments and you get annoyed.

The films are all heard in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound and again it varies for each DVD. Most of them are heard incredibly well while those such as Crazy Eights (yes, again) are just horrible. The music is in the foreground while the dialogue sits on the back burner. Hell, half the time you can’t even hear what they are saying when they are talking at regular volume. You can just forget it when they are whispering. For the most part though; a lot of the films sound fine.

Miss HorrorFest Contest Webisodes – Each DVD has this as a special feature on it even if there are no other extras. They are all the same and last close to twenty minutes showing some Gothic girls going to various places and showcasing their freakiness in hopes of becoming Miss HorrorFest. Meh.

Trailers – Random trailers appear on each disc mostly for the other After Dark Films and The Eye appears on a bunch of them too.

It is rather hard how to judge this whole set after all is said and done. Ian Stone, Borderland, and Nightmare Man make it totally worth spending the money, but maybe not the full amount. Perhaps you should think of buying at least those films separately because the rest of the crap just isn’t worth it. Some of the films are horribly bad while the others aren’t really bad, but just too boring to ever be worth your time. It’s quite a blessing that these films can be purchased separately and for less then fifteen bucks a piece too at most places. The three films I’ve mentioned need to be seen and really owned by horror fans because they meet the qualifications of the “Eight Films To Die For.” Everything else makes me rather just die. Special features this year as opposed to last year are down tremendously. Only a small few have anything but the Miss HorrorFest garbage, and there are barely any commentaries. Quite disappointing considering how the less stellar Fest from last year got the royal treatment for almost every film. I find it difficult for anyone to determine which HorrorFest is the better of the two so far, but my edge would go to this one. Put them both together maybe and at least we could have “Six Films To Die For!”

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Lionsgate presents After Dark HorrorFest 2. Directed by: Zev Berman (Borderland), James K. Jones (Crazy Eights), Dario Piana (The Deaths Of Ian Stone), George Bessudo (Lake Dead), Jim Mickle (Mulberry St), Rolfe Kanefsky (Nightmare Man), Mark Young (Tooth And Nail), Matthew Leutwyler (Unearthed).

Written by: Eric Poppen & Zev Berman (Borderland), Dan Deluca, James K. Jones, Patrick Moses, & Ji-Un Kwon (Crazy Eights), Brendan Hood (The Deaths Of Ian Stone), Daniel P. Coughlin (Lake Dead), Nick Damici & Jim Mickle (Mulberry St), Rolfe Kanefsky (Nightmare Man), Mark Young (Tooth And Nail), Matthew Leutwyler (Unearthed).

Running time: 647 minutes on 8 discs (or each film can be purchased separately). Rating: Unrated. Released on DVD: March 18, 2008. Available at Amazon.com

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