Written and directed by Tom DeNucci
Filmmaker Tom DeNucci made his directorial debut with last year’s Woodhaven Pictures film, Self Storage. It was a decent three-act movie that was funny, gory and actually quite charming. DeNucci and Woodhaven return this year with a much more ambitious movie in Army of the Damned.
DeNucci wrote the script in addition to directing the film, and the cast of actors he was given to work with was as eclectic as one could imagine. There were veteran actors and newcomers. There was a rock star, a pop star, a porn star and a handful of wrestling superstars. And somehow DeNucci managed to take this uncategorizable pool of talent, focus it, and come up with an entertaining film.
Army of the Damned is the tale of a police house call gone horribly wrong. The officers (Tommy Dreamer and Thea Trinidad) discover something unspeakable in the house and call Officer Bridge for backup (Sully Erna). Bridge is being featured by a reality tv show and the crew (Jackie Moore and Joey Fatone) follows him to the house, thus giving Army of the Damned a similar setup to [REC]. From there things go from bad to worse for our police force as spirits rise and blood spills.
Much like his previous movie, Self Storage, DeNucci again creates a fun atmosphere here. Sure, there are some things that could have been ironed out, some consistency issues and some of the actors are more seasoned than others, but that’s a small price to pay for having such a fun cast. And DeNucci certainly manages to get the best performance possible out of the entire crew. He also knows how to pop an audience, when SWAT team leader Tony Todd rolls into the movie on something that looks like the Batman Tumbler vehicle, or when another certain horror veteran blows away a baddie at a critical time in the film, as an audience member you want to cheer. It’s not easy to evoke that kind of response from a crowd.
Erna makes a very nice transition from his usual spot as frontman for Godsmack to the silver screen. His character, Brick, is a no nonsense guy who takes his law enforcement job very seriously. Dreamer and Trinidad (both real-life professional wrestlers) are great as the seasoned veteran and rookie, respectively, of the force. And we mustn’t forget fellow wrestler Maria Kanellis whose fiery red mane lights up the screen as a member of Tony Todd’s SWAT team.
As a writer, DeNucci is quite comfortable adding elements of comedy to his horror and Army of the Damned is no different. He brings the humor from several characters including police force members Rhodes and Sobecheck (David Chokachi and Tom Paolino) and Fatone’s reality tv cameraman, Dave. But the big laughs come from the big guy, Nick Principe. As a petty criminal apprehended by the police, Principe’s character, Donald, is an absolute riot.
Army of the Damned is a good time. It’s not going to blow you away with an intricate story line or bring you to tears with emotion, but it is what it is, an hour and a half roller coaster ride of action, impressive practical F/X (wonderfully conceived by Ben Bornstein) and fun. You’ll cringe, you’ll laugh…hell, you might even cheer out loud.
3 1/2 out of 5