Welcome to the first ever Blood Stream and my first post on Dread Central! Truly, it is a momentous occasion. For all of us. Have you ever found yourself with nothing to watch, hopelessly scanning Netflix or Hulu for something, ANYTHING you haven’t seen?
You’ve used up all the well known horror and most of the not-so-well known. So you delve into the lower reaches of your streaming site of choice. Two-star movies. One-and-a-half-star movies. Movies with such poorly composited cover art you dare not read the synopses for fear of what lies within.
While some of these bottom dwellers might be more or less tolerable, you can’t know for sure without watching. More than likely, you’ll waste half an hour on a randomly selected title before you realize you would have been better off chewing glass and punching yourself in the face.
The purpose of this column is to mine the internet for horror gold so you don’t have to. In this space you’ll find (legally) streamable horror titles that have thus far escaped the withering gaze of Dread Central’s all-seeing eye. Every now and then I’ll dredge up something of higher-than-expected quality and we can all rejoice, if only for a moment. Most weeks I suspect I’ll sit through 90+ minutes of breathtakingly bad cinema. Enjoy my torment!
For the first edition I was hoping I’d get lucky and nab something good. Then you’d be all, “Hey, this guy really provided me a service. He sure is neat. I will tell all my friends and post a humorous .gif in the comments.” Alas, I landed on what is quite literally an amateur attempt at vampire action-horror:
The Devil’s Gravestone tells the tale of Jaq (short for Jacqueline, which, um, okay), an ass-kicking, mega-babe 20-something who four years ago lost her six-year-old son. The math on that isn’t impossible, but at the very least it’s a cautionary tale about the importance of sex education.
And how did she lose said son? Her husband became a vampire and ATE HIM. Holy crap! That is some intense stuff right there, daring even. It’s especially cool that, as a result, the big bad she’s chasing (her hubbie) has only been a vampire for four years. That’s a far cry from the usual thousand-year-old super villain at the end of most vampire yarns. This guy is young, but he’s a climber.
Before I get into details on why this is such a horrible movie and you should never waste your time on it, not even on a bet or to get your writing on a website you like, let me first say: I respect the hell out of everybody involved in this movie. I’m not kidding.
This entire 95-minute feature was financed, produced and in all ways staffed by about three people and their families. That’s some achievement, regardless of how imperfect the finished product is. And this one is at least structurally sound, boasting a story that, while convoluted, nevertheless manages to build to an appropriate, satisfying finish.
That being said, here are the reasons this movie is terrible and should never be watched by anyone who does not care deeply about someone in the cast or crew:
- Atrocious video quality. Hard to say if they filmed this on an old cell phone or it just looks that way. Most movies are captured on digital rather than film nowadays. This one was made in 2009 but it looks like 1990s videotape with software filters and fake celluloid artifacts added haphazardly to inflict maximum eyeball carnage. The resolution of the Netflix transfer is MAYBE good enough for an iPad but nothing larger. On a full size TV it looks like someone coated the screen with Vaseline.
- Missing Foley and terrible vocal sync. Spaghetti westerns are universally beloved despite the fact that characters’ voices never match their lips. I can look past bad audio. But some scenes in Devil’s Gravestone – both dialogue and action – are almost completely inaudible. Either a mic was too far away or the wind was too high, or they just ran out of time to add effects. Whatever the case, it rips you out of the world of the film every time.
- Massive editing, continuity and/or logic issues. Just an example: There’s a fight scene in which our heroine is stabbed in the gut. It’s bad but she’s not so injured she can’t capture the vampire she’s fighting and perform a leisurely seduction/torture thing on him. Immediately after that, she goes out into the alley and collapses from her wounds. To recover, she goes home and slams a bunch of smack into her arm before hopping into the bathtub, hanging a homemade IV bag above her head and taping a pen to her hand. After a few minutes of that, she’s ready to fight again. Only this time she suffers a gunshot wound to the torso and literally walks it off. If you think her inexplicable rapid healing might be leading to a big twist, well….the twist is on you, my friend.
It’s easy to pan a neighborhood film with a tiny budget. But lest we forget, Evil Dead had almost no budget and it still holds up as a ripping good time. El Mariachi was filmed for like 64 pesos. And it’s not like there was no money behind Devil’s Gravestone. For one thing, the cast isn’t some local improv troupe. Many of them were paid professionals.
You know the lead, Elle LaMont, and her agent were getting professional rates for the two or so weeks she was on set. For a runway model, LaMont isn’t a terrible actor and she’s reasonably committed. Still, her relentless, droning voiceovers could be cut without losing anything important. Her hugely padded, perpetually tank-topped boobs are a little distracting as well, though I’m sure that wasn’t her call.
Joe Nemmers, who plays Detective Dick (not making that up), isn’t half bad either. He’s dashing and brawny and he delivers his lines with legit gravitas. His IMDB page lists a string of minor credits and he does a bunch of theater work. He’s not taking Hollywood by storm but he’s a decent, full-time actor who certainly commands SAG rates. And many of the film’s other actors probably do too, which goes to show that this movie’s failings are not so much due to a lack of production dollars as they are a lack of filmmaking expertise.
You’d find The Devil’s Gravestone super impressive if someone you knew worked on it. It is not, however, a movie you should watch otherwise. Instead, why not flip on good old Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter? It, too, is an inconsistent vampire slayer story. It’s nowhere near the top of the vampire movie food chain, but it is readily available to stream on Netflix. While it lacks some of the novice clumsiness of The Devil’s Gravestone, it’s still plenty weird and just as often makes little to no sense.
Got news? Click here to submit it!
Subscribe to the Dread Central YouTube Channel!
Stream terror in the comments section below!