Reviewed 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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American Psycho Meets Creep – Strawberry Flavored Plastic Review
Starring Aidan Bristow, Nicholas Urda, Andres Montejo
Directed by Colin Bemis
Recently I wrote up an article here on Dread Central which was basically an open letter to anyone who was listening called “I Miss Found Footage.” Well, it seems like someone WAS listening, as I was then sent the link to an all-new found footage film called Strawberry Flavored Plastic from first-time writer-director Colin Bemis.
The film follows the “still-at-large crimes of Noel, a repentant, classy and charming serial killer loose in the suburbs of New York.” Basically, you could think of the flick as American Psycho meets Mark Duplass and Partick Brice’s Creep. That, or you could think of it as “Man Bites Dog in color!” However you choose to label Colin Bemis’ psychological thriller, just make sure you check out the film once it hits in the future.
As I alluded to above, the film is basically a found footage version of American Psycho. But that said, the film sports a twist on the charming serial killer subgenre that I have yet to see play out in any of the above-mentioned classics. I’m not going to go into spoiler territory here, but I will say that the film introduces an element to the tale that spins it into much more of a character drama than a straight horror film. Not that there is anything wrong with that!
Truth be told, the film’s turn from serial killer flick into a layered character study might have been its kiss of death, but this slight genre switch is rendered a minor issue as the film’s central narcissistic antagonist is played by Aidan Bristow. Bristow is an actor you may not have heard of before this review, but you will hear his name more and more over the years to come, I promise. The guy gives (no pun intended) a killer performance as the film’s resident serial killer Noel Rose, and time after time surprised me with how chilling, charming, or downright vulnerable he chose to play any given scene.
Bristow’s performance is, in the end, the major element the film has going for it. But that said, as a fan of found footage, I was smiling ear to ear at first-time director Colin Bemis’ understanding of what makes a found footage suspense sequence work.
In Strawberry Flavored Plastic director Colin Bemis is confident and content to allow full emotional scenes to play out with the camera directed at nothing more than a character’s knees. Why is this so important? Because it keeps the reality of the film going. Too many found footage directors would focus on the actors’ faces during such emotional scenes – no matter how contrived the camera angle was. In this film, however, Bemis favors the reality that says, “If you were really in this emotional state and holding a camera, you would let it drop to your side.” I agree, and it is small touches like that which make the film feel authentic and thus – once the shite hits the fan – all the scarier.
On the dull side of the kitchen knife, the film does feel a bit long even given it’s short running time, and there doesn’t seem too much in the way of visceral horror to be found within. Again, graphic blood and gore aren’t a must in a fright flick, but a tad more of the old ultra-violence would have gone a long way in selling our main psychopath’s insanity and unpredictability. But all the same, the film does feature a rather shocking sequence where our main baddie performs a brutal home invasion/murder that puts this film firmly in the realm of horror. In fact, the particular POV home invasion scene I’m talking about holds about as much horror as you’ll ever wish to witness.
In the end, Colin Bemis’ Strawberry Flavored Plastic is a must-see for fans of found footage and serial killer studies such as American Pyscho, Creep, and Man Bites Dog. I recommend giving it a watch once it premieres. If only to be able to point to Aidan Bristow in the near future and tell all your friends that you watched (one of) his first movies.
Lead actor Aidan Bristow turns in a star-making performance in Colin Bemis’ Strawberry Flavored Plastic, a found footage film that plays out like Man Bites Dog in Color before introducing a new element to the charming-serial-killer subgenre and becoming more character study than a straight horror. Think American Psycho meets Creep.
Who Goes There Podcast: Ep 148 – Inside (2017 Remake)
We’ve all heard the old saying, “in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Well, I’m here to tell you that’s only partially true. It seems there is a third certainty that had been omitted from the original quote, “It is certain, if you enjoy a movie, at some point someone will remake that movie.” Now is the time when one of my favorite movies gets reimagined, “for an American audience”.
In the late 2000’s an explosion of “French extreme” horror films was released. Martyrs and or High Tension can often be found on any number of lists of the “most fucked up horror movies ever”. Unfortunately, the vastly superior Inside is often forgotten (as well as Frontier(s), but that’s a whole ‘nother rant). Now, ten years after it’s initial release, Inside has been Americanized. Don’t worry, we watched it so you don’t have to. You’re welcome.
Mommy says you’re not dead. Is that true? It’s the Who Goes There Podcast episode 148!
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Totem Review – It’s Not Always A Bad Thing To Look Up From The Bottom Level, If You Like That View
Starring Kerris Dorsey, James Tupper, Ahna O’Reilly
Directed by Marcel Sarmiento
Following the untimely death of a family’s matriarchal figure, a young woman finds out that managing to hold all of the pieces in place becomes increasingly more difficult when otherworldly infiltrators make their presence felt. We’re going to have to work our way up this Totem, as
17 year old Kellie is the leading lady of the home following the passing of her mother Lexy, and with a needy father and tiny tot of a baby sister, she still keeps things in working order, regardless of the rather large hole that’s been left in the dynamic due to the death. Kellie’s dad after a while decides to ask his lady-friend to move in with the family, so that everyone can move onto a more peaceful existence…yeah, because those types of instances always seem to work seamlessly. As fate would have it, Kellie’s sense of pride is now taking a beating with the new woman in the mix, and her little sister’s new “visitor” is even more disturbed by this intruder – only question is, exactly who is this supernatural pal of sorts? Is it the spirit of their dead mother standing by to keep watch over the family, or is it something that’s found its way to this group, and has much more evil intentions at hand?
What works here is the context of something innately malicious that has found its way into the home – there are only a couple moments that come off as unsettling, but the notion of having to weave through more than half the film acting as a sullen-teen drama is rather painful. The presentation of the “broken family” is one that’s been done to death, and with better results overall, and that’s not to say that the movie is a complete loss, it just takes far too much weeding through at times stale performances and even more stagnant pacing to get to a moderately decent late-stage conclusion to the film. Under the direction of Marcel Sarmiento (Deadgirl), I’d truly hoped for something a bit more along the lines of a disturbing project such as that one, but the only thing disturbing was the time I’d invested in checking this one out. My best advice is to tune into the Lifetime channel if you want a sulky teen-melodrama with a tinge of horror, or you could simply jump into this one and work your way up…but it’s a LONG way to the top.
Sulky, moody, and ridden with teen-angst buried in the middle of a supernatural mystery – SOUNDS like a decent premise, doesn’t it?
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