After Dark Horrorfest presents another double feature. In this collection you get one mediocre film and one surprisingly entertaining one.
First up we have The Graves. This film from comic book creator Brian Pulido (Lady Death) feels a lot like something Stephen King might have written in high school, before he really knew what he was doing. The story follows two sexy, comic-book loving sisters, Megan Graves (Clare Grant) and Abby Graves (Jullian Murray), as they set out on a cross country road trip. They wind up in the backwards town of Unity, Arizona where a horrible evil feeds on the souls of travelers with the help pretty much the entire town.
They take a tour of the old haunted mine and wind up being hunted by a demented, yet apologetic, blacksmith (Shane Stevens). After they kill him, they quickly learn that everyone is in on the scheme and must take on the entire town including the blacksmith’s psychotic brother, Caleb (Bill Moseley, a former “Devil’s Reject”) and a raving Reverend (Tony “Candyman” Todd).
The biggest problem with this film is how much it rips off other horror films. The whole story has this Children of the Corn feel to it, there is a moment when Caleb has captured Megan and tied her to a chair that screams Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and Caleb puts on a rubber pig nose when he begins to chase the girls and at one point squeals like a pig not so much unlike the hillbillies in Deliverance.
The acting is okay across the board with nothing horrible, but nothing stands out either. The film also suffers from an over use of bad digital effects. A majority of the blood splatter in this film is CGI and you can tell. There is nothing worse in a horror film then bad CGI blood. Fake blood isn’t expensive, just use it already!
This film wasn’t the worst thing I’ve ever seen, but there was nothing in there that really impressed me either.
Up next we have Zombies of Mass Destruction. Now I love me a good zombie film, but they’ve become so over-saturated as of late that I’m always suspect of any new zombie film that comes along, especially a zom-com. And while ZMD starts out a little slow, by the end I have to say, I was quite entertained.
ZMD has three main characters. The first is Frida (Janette Armand), a college girl of Iranian descent who has come home from college. She’s frustrated because everyone keeps calling her Iraqi. The others are Tom (Doug Fahl) and Lance (Cooper Hopkins), a gay couple who has come home so Tom can come out of the closet to his mom.
Zombies have come to the island of Port Gamble and the simple townsfolk who live there find their lives turned upside down and inside out. Frida first gets pulled into the horror when her boyfriend’s face gets ripped off. But for Frida, the zombies aren’t the worst thing she has to face as a paranoid hick thinks she’s part of the “terrorist plot” that brought the zombies and captures here to interrogate and torture her. Tom and Lance learn the horrible truth when Tom’s mom tries to eat them. The film follows these characters along with a few others and leads them all to a final showdown in the church where the zombies don’t seem as bad as the homophobic preacher, mayor and small congregation.
The thing that’s interesting about this film is that it uses the zombie genre to poke fun at social issues such as homophobia and terrorist paranoia amongst others. It also uses gallons and gallons of fake blood, which make it endlessly entertaining, especially when Lance busts out the weed whacker! While there are a lot of laughs there are some great shocks as well. There were few moments that made me jump and I really wasn’t expecting that from this film.
Like Graves the acting isn’t super, but unlike the previous film, the story here is pretty interesting, it actually has something to say and the characters are a lot more well rounded. It’s also got some really memorable lines like “Dude, your mom just ate her own eye.” And “We’ve got histories greatest zombie on our side, Jesus Christ!”
The most annoying part about the film was how the beginning kind of rips off Shaun of the Dead with the townsfolk seeing the zombies but not recognizing the danger because they’re so wrapped up in what they’ve got going on. Not only does it steal this device, but it doesn’t use it half as well.
So we have here one good film and one mediocre film. I’ll go so far as to say they’re both worth sitting through, though you’re sure to enjoy ZMD way more.
The films are presented in widescreen and 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio with English and Spanish subtitles. Both films look and sound fine for what they are. I mean, these are low budget films and that shows, but it doesn’t distract from whatever enjoyment you might get from them.
Commentary: You get two commentaries for this film: one with director Brian Pulido and the other with producers Francisca Pulido and Adam Goldfine. Neither is too exciting but the one with Brian Pulido is much more interesting.
Auditions/Script Reads: (5 min.) Nothing very exciting here.
Calabrese: “Vampires Don’t Exist” Music Video: (3 min.) Not a very exciting video and the song didn’t impress me much either.
Plan To Actual: (5 min.) Early planning footage is cut together with scenes from the movie. Meh.
Spot The Gnome: (1 min.) Pulido has this garden gnome that he puts in every film. Here he explains that his gnome is hidden in two scenes in the film and suggests going back to watch the film and try to find him.
The Graves: Behind the Screams: (20 min.) Typical behind the scenes stuff. This one is okay.
Sound Designing The Graves: (5 min.) The sound designer shows how the film really would have been nothing without his magical touch. This is an okay look at sound in film.
Zombies of Mass Destruction:
The Making of ZMD: (6 min.) Short and sweet, this is the way I like my making of featurettes.
This is a adequate double feature, with ZMD being a far better film than The Graves, if you’re a horror fan I’m sure you’ll find something to enjoy in both of them, but if you’re short on time I suggest just skipping The Graves. I guess my biggest complaint is that the better film has fewer special features.
Lionsgate presents After Dark Horrorfest: The Graves. Written and Directed by: Brian Pulido. Starring: Clare Grant, Jillian Murray, Bill Moseley and Tony Todd. Running time: 88 min. Rating: R for Bloody violence. Zombies of Mass Destruction. Directed by: Kevin Hamedani. Written by Ramon Isao and Kevin Hamedani. Starring: Janette Armand, Doug Fahl and Cooper Hopkins. Running time: 89 min. Rating: R for strong bloody zombie violence and gore, language, sexual references and brief drug use. Released on Blu-ray: January 4, 2011.
Tags: Tony Todd, zombies