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Dark Angel (aka I Come in Peace) (DVD)

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Dark Angel (DVD)Starring Dolph Lundgren, Brian Benben, Betsey Brantley

Directed By Craig R. Baxley

Distributed by MGM Studios


I first became aware of this movie in the summer of 1990, I believe, as it was being previewed on “Entertainment Tonight”. It immediately caught my interest because it was a Dolph Lundgren movie and for the fact that to this day the only memory I have of that preview is of the bad alien, played by Matthias Hues, behind the wheel of a police car, with the driver’s side door missing, and how calm and collected he looked as he drove it. I also remember his white eyes.

The next memory I have is seeing it in the theater and the reels in the final twenty minutes getting fucked up. Brian Benben’s head was on the bottom of the screen and the rest of his body was on top. I went out to the lobby to find someone to correct it, but there was no one around. I left with intentions of seeing it again a few days later. Never made it to that second screening, for as I headed off to the theater, I remembered there were two friends waiting for me at this local hangout, one of whom became my eventual girlfriend, and at the last minute I blew off the movie to hang with them.

Okay, that ends the nostalgia portion of this review; now on to the movie. Anyone who remembers this sci-fi/actioner may know it under the title I COME IN PEACE. I had no idea it had another title until Anchor Bay released it on VHS in the late 90s. DARK ANGEL is apparently the name it originally went by, but when it finally got released here in the States, it was changed at the last minute to the phrase the bad alien utters right before he kills. I prefer the US title; it’s a better fit than its original moniker.

Dolph Lundgen plays Jack Caine, a Houston detective who pretty much plays it fast and loose with his job, disappearing for days on end and showing up for work when he pleases. This attitude also wreaks havoc on his love life; he’s got a thing going with the coroner, Diane Pallone, played by Betsy Brantley. To make matters worse, in the opening act a stakeout goes horrible wrong, resulting in the death of his partner by the White Boys, white-collar criminals who deal in drugs, money and guns.

And just when things couldn’t get any worse, some really weird shit goes down at that stake out when Lundgren decides to deviate from the plan and apprehend a couple of drugged up douchebags who try to rob the convenience store he’s parked next to. But that’s not the really weird shit. While he’s doing that, and right after his partner was just killed, the remaining White Boys who are left to mop up the body are taken out by an alien who kills them with his nifty device that reminded me of the one the alien used in WITHOUT WARNING. Except here the weapon isn’t a biological organism but a lethal looking CD that flies across the room and ricochets off walls and bodies as it completes its mission of slitting everyone’s throat.

The Feds show up and partner Caine with by-the-book G-man Arwood Smith, played to perfection by a favorite actor of mine, Brian Benben. Yes, he’s basically the comic relief, but when the shit hits the fan, he’s able to kick ass and shoot a gun, even an alien one, competently I might add.

The bulk of the flick is about Caine and Smith trying to get along, eventually becoming friends as they track a series of mysterious deaths, ones that result in the bad alien pumping human victims with cocaine to stimulate the production of endorphins in the brain, which are then sucked out by more alien tech and stored in a portable freezer fanny pack. See, this alien is basically nothing more than a drug dealer, and these endorphins are his version of extraterrestrial crack-cocaine.

Caine and Smith aren’t alone in their hunt either. An alien cop has followed the drug dealer to earth, and while Caine and Smith are doing their detective work and bickering, these two are trying to blow each other into the stratosphere with their alien guns. Trust me, these guns are cool! Wish I had one. Interesting to note IMDB actually has names for these two outer space interlopers: The “drug dealer” is called Talec, and the “cop” is called Azeck, but nowhere in the film are their names uttered.

This has always been a favorite Lundgren movie of mine, and I wish it had gotten a better transfer on MGM’s MOD (Manufacture-On-Demand) Program. The transfer they burned is dark. I wouldn’t recommend watching it in the day, especially in a room where the sun is cascading in. I watch all my movies at night, however, in a room where the only light is from the television, but I did manage to put it on when I first got it, as I always do, just to see how the transfer looks.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not unwatchable; it just could be better. There are some audio issues, too. Mainly in the scene after Caine and the police are in the club looking over the dead bodies of the White Boys. There’s some hissing for a few moments, but then it goes away. DARK ANGEL is also available in the UK, and I’m curious now as to what that transfer looks like. Making a mental note to some day pick it up and compare.

The trailer is also included and that, too, looks as dark as the film.

Movie

5 out of 5

Special Features

1 out of 5

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American Psycho Meets Creep – Strawberry Flavored Plastic Review

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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.

Until then, check out the film’s trailer HERE, and follow the movie on Facebook.

  • Strawberry Flavored Plastic
3.5

Summary

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.

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Who Goes There Podcast: Ep 148 – Inside (2017 Remake)

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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!

If you like what you hear, please consider joining our Patreon subscribers. For less than the cost of a beer, you get bonus content, exclusive merchandise, special giveaways, and you get to help us continue doing what we love.

The Who Goes There Podcast is available to subscribe to on iTunes right here. Not an iTunes user? You can listen on our Dread Central page. Can’t get enough? We also do that social media shit. You’ll find us on FacebookTwitterInstagramTwitch, and YouTube.

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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

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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.

  • Film
2.0

Summary

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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