Voodoo Moon (DVD)

Voodoo Moon DVD review (click to see it bigger!)Starring Eric Mabius, Charisma Carpenter, Jeffery Combs, Rik Young, John Amos

Directed by Kevin VanHook

Released by Anchor Bay Entertainment

This is my first run-in with prolific Sci-Fi Channel original filmmaker Kevin VanHook, and I wish it could say it was well worth the wait. I wish I could tell you guys that we’re looking at a new voice in horror, someone who, with a few more films under his belt, could go on to deliver a truly memorable scare flick.

Sadly, such is not the case. You can tell the man enjoys what he’s doing, maybe even that he has genuine affection for our genre, but if Voodoo Moon is any indication, he’s like a mule with a spinning wheel; he has no idea how he got it and danged if he knows what to do with it.

Our story finds a young man named Cole (Mabius) returning to his home after years abroad studying all manner of dark and white arts. He’s on a mission to destroy the manifestation of evil, who just keeps showing up around the globe in a new guise (a word that is fine when written, but sounds very clunky coming out of Mabius) every time. He’s gone back to enlist the help of his sister, Heather (Carpenter), who apparently has some psychic ability that allows her to foresee events, and to assemble a cast of random characters he’s met during his travels who have all agreed to help him if he ever needed it.

Meanwhile, evil keeps body jumping and doing naughty things such as pushing one of Cole’s friends, Frank (Combs), down a flight of stairs, breaking his neck. Such an inconvenience doesn’t stop Frank though, and he proceeds to travel to Cole’s place as a slowly rotting, broken-necked zombie, which leads to one of the most annoying under-usages of Jeffrey Combs I’ve ever seen. Of course before he dies he gets to monologue to his wife with incredibly dramatic flourishes, which will likely having you chuckling without even realizing it.

Voodoo Moon DVD review (click to see it bigger!)So back to the plot; right … well, Cole has all these powers that he can use to stop evil, including the power to float, but then evil (who finally shows up as charming Brit named Daniel, played by Rik Young) can do cool stuff, too, and eventually they have this big fight but… well, before that there is just a whole lot of talking going on and not much else. Cole pontificates to his sister, gets counsel from the woman who owns the house they all converge in back in their hometown (played by the always awesome Dee Wallace), the rest of the characters sit around and bullshit with one another, and eventually Heather ends up chatting with the personification of evil for about 20 minutes before it finally dawns on her what’s going on.

There are many annoying issues in Voodoo Moon; the lack of action is only one. When there are practical effects, they look great (as they were supplied by the folks at Almost Human), but any digital effect is so glaringly obvious that, even if somehow you became deeply engrossed in the plot, it would take you right out of the story as soon as it shows up onscreen. The motivations of the characters are also severely questionable throughout, save for those of Frank, who is given the aforementioned unnecessarily long backstory that does very little other than pad the running time, but why are the rest of these people coming to help Cole? It’s never explained, other than that he helped them at some point, and is even more annoying when they turn out to be nothing more than glorified red shirts when the evil guys show up. And why did evil all of a sudden decide to show up back in the sibling’s hometown, which was filled in as a reservoir for the surrounding area a few years previous?

The long and short of it is that Voodoo Moon is just a dull story with minor flares of cool stuff happening that don’t really make it worth your time when it’s not. Carpenter is very easy on the eyes, and the rest of the cast is actually quite solid; it’s just too bad they had such a dull story to work within the confines of. Don’t tell that to the crew of the film; they seem to think they’ve created something very special.

Voodoo Moon DVD review (click to see it bigger!)Or at least that’s what comes across on the DVD’s first and longest featurette, “You Reap What You Sow: Making Voodoo Moon.” Clocking in at just over 10 minutes, it’s basically a fluff piece for everyone to talk about how cool they thought the movie was and how cool they thought VanHook was and basically just saying a whole lot of nothing. It does amaze how those involved could actually watch the movie and still have such good things to say about it afterwards; I guess it takes all kinds.

There’s also a 7-minute featurette about the make-up and visual effects of Voodoo Moon, though the primary focus is on the latter. A bit sad, considering both how bad they turned out and how much cooler it would have been to listen to Almost Human chat up their creations.

Some deleted scenes round out the extra features, serving to give a bit more backstory on Heater and Cole as well as a slightly longer version of the scene in the cemetery that still doesn’t make any goddamn sense until you realize that the gardener who gets killed by the cute little girl is VanHook himself, and then it all becomes clear.

That is abut the only useful information you’ll get from VanHook’s scattered commentary track, though there may have been more that I just tuned out because he speaks so rarely throughout the movie you begin to wonder if maybe he hadn’t dozed off, too. Yet another example of a commentary that would have been much more interesting with at least one other person in the room, and it doesn’t help that when Kevin does have anything to say, it’s not really all that interesting.

So at the end of the day I guess I got what I expected from a direct-to-DVD release from a man who at least usually gets his films shown on the Sci Fi Channel. I really want to know what the hell IDT/Anchor Bay is thinking with some of these titles; remember when they were the ultimate in badass horror DVD companies? I guess all things come to an end, and they’re still doing a pretty good job with the Masters of Horror series, but man, it’d be nice if they could pawn off these crappy films to someone else for a while.

Special Features:
“Black Magic: The Stunts, Make-up and Visual Effects of Voodoo Moon
“You Reap What You Sow: The Making of Voodoo Moon
Deleted scenes
Photo and still gallery
Screenplay on DVD-ROM

1 1/2 out of 5

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Johnny Butane

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