Dead Tone (DVD)

Dead ToneReviewed by The Foywonder

Starring Brian Hooks, Jud Taylor, Will Horneff, Antwon Tanner, Jonathan Chase, Aimee Garcia, Kyle Turley, Rutger Hauer

Directed by Brian Hooks and Deon Taylor

Imagine you’re a kid. You and a bunch of friends are having a sleepover and passing the time by crank calling random phone numbers. One of the people crank called turns out to be a homicidal maniac. That madman turns the tables by calling you back to let you know he is going to kill you all. Then that psychopath dressed like the killer from the original Prom Night busts in and axe murders every single adult in the house while you and your friends hide and watch on in horror. When you grow up, are you still going to be playing that stupid crank calling game? According to Dead Tone, yes, you will.

Hard to have too much sympathy when a decade later some of the survivors of this massacre are now grown up college students and still playing their little crank calling game “75” (players wager whether or not the crank caller can keep the person randomly called on the phone for 75 seconds). Normal people would end their crank calling days after their obnoxious tomfoolery results in a bloody massacre, but not these lunkheaded Jerky Boys wannabes.

All of the characters in peril are your typical slasher movie victims awaiting their turn to make an attractive corpse. You have the nice blonde girl, the trampy girl, the guy, the other guy, the flamboyantly gay guy, and so many African-American characters Jason Voorhees wouldn’t know which to kill second. They all end up at the party of the year being thrown at the secluded hilltop mansion belonging to the parents of the nice blonde girl’s rich douchebag boyfriend who is trying to make amends for cheating on her with a fat chick (but not for being a rich douchebag). Most of these characters are unlikable, at least the ones that actually have a personality.

In addition to the pizza, partying, and fornicating, they also decide to gather round a telephone and play a little “75”. History repeats itself. An axe-wielding maniac dressed this time like the killer from the first Urban Legend has already begun killing the now adult kids that did not attend the party. When the mass murderer runs out of them, he finally makes his way to the mansion to begin killing the rest and every other random partygoer that didn’t leave the party early. The rest of Dead Tone is the typical slasher formula: run, hide, regroup, and find plenty of time to take turns blaming each other until the killer’s identity is finally revealed and viewers are left to pontificate whether this twist makes any sense.

Speaking of not making sense. People in the living room are screaming in terror as an axe-swinging psycho chops them and doors and furniture to pieces, and yet nobody else in the house hears any of this? I realize this is a mansion but a girl in a jacuzzi out back heard something so how the heck is it people down the hall from where all the screaming and chopping is going on don’t hear a thing? No loud music either to mask any of this. I think the title Dead Tone refers to these people’s degree of deafness.

Rutger Hauer is just there to collect a paycheck. Hauer serves little purpose posing as the cop that investigated the original massacre and is now following the new series of dead bodies that will eventually lead him to the mansion. There is no point to his character other than to pad the film out with a handful of fairly useless scenes starring a name actor they can use to help market the film (assuming the name Rutger Hauer can actually sell anything these days).

When did the faceless, axe-swinging parka killer from Urban Legend become such an iconic movie slasher that other slasher moviemakers keep copying the look? This is at least the third slasher movie I have seen where that winter coat killer look has been repeated, and I just don’t get why they keep copying such a lame look. Or is it just cheaper to get a big winter coat and hide someone’s face in it than it is to actually come up with a clever new idea for a masked killer?

It’s only appropriate that the killer be derivative of other movie slashers given every aspect of Dead Tone is derivative of other slasher movies. You can just sit there and spot not only the clichés but also scenes reminiscent of scenes from other slasher flicks. And writer-directors Brian Hooks and Deon Taylor almost pull it off, or should I say they don’t entirely blow it? Dead Tone is no better or worse than a myriad of slasher movies out there. Slasher movie completists and gorehounds will be satisfied. The rest of you will probably find yourself like me thinking, “Eh, I’ve seen worse.”

Dead Tone‘s box art proclaims it to be BASED ON TRUE EVENTS. Sure it is. Aren’t most movies based on true events hosted by Flava Flav in a Phantom of the Opera cape posing in front of a green screen? Dead Tone is part of the “Nite Tales” collection. That means the film is preceded by Flava Flav very briefly cackling about being “The Time Keeper”. If he’s doing the horror movie host shtick, shouldn’t his name be “The Time Killer”? That would be more fitting since the best that can be said of Dead Tone is that it makes for a passable time killer.

2 1/2 out of 5

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Scott A. Johnson

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  • Pestilence

    I had a filthy good time with this…left with the type of dirty feeling that I really shouldn’t have enjoyed it so much. Luckily I saw the UK release titled “7eventy 5ive”, so didn’t have to suffer Flavor Flav…KNOW’AM SAYIN’.