Directed by John Schneider
To address the elephant in the room, yes, this film was written and directed by that John Schneider, the man who became a superstar playing Bo Duke on “The Dukes of Hazzard” and had an enviably recording career as a musician. But now Schneider has turned his substantial talents to the horror genre and brings us Smothered.
Certainly more of a horror-comedy, the premise for this film is really fun. Led by Kane Hodder, a group of horror icons are convinced to blow off a day of signing autographs at a convention to haunt an RV park for a hefty payday. And a series of unfortunate events occur, leading to our heroic icons finding themselves in one seriously bad situation. Smothered is very entertaining in the fact that it brings us our horror heroes, the folks that we’re used to seeing haunting our dreams, and presents them to us in an entirely new light… Kane Hodder as a romantic leading man and R.A. Mihailoff afraid of the dark and clutching a Chihuahua throughout, just to name a couple.
And this is indeed the strength of Smothered. The comedy and the horror come from the fact that our horror heroes are no longer the stuff of nightmares but are regular, vulnerable people just like us. And in most cases they’re even more vulnerable than us. Smothered shows us that our heroes are indeed just regular people… with a couple of iconic horror films under their belts. And as comedians these guys really pull it off. Mihailoff and Don Shanks are both hilarious, and Hodder and Bill Moseley also do a great job in their roles. Really impressive. And we can’t forget about the lovely Brea Grant as DD. That’s how you spell it, two D’s. Watch the movie; you’ll get it.
Not only was the casting brilliant in Smothered, but the script was quite impressive as well. Tight and truly funny, Smothered turned out to be a tribute to the horror fan. There are plenty of quietly placed nods to lovers of the genre throughout the movie, including a phone call from John Kassir (the voice of The Crypt Keeper) shaking down Hodder for moneys owed and plenty of references to some of our favorite films. This “Holliston”-esque treatment will certainly score with the horror community.
With a well-placed cast and entertaining script, Smothered was able to hide some of its shortcomings. There are a number of effects used, and they are hit and miss at best. A little more attention to the details on the make-up and gory F/X would have gone a long way toward polishing this film. Also, some of the acting is a little stiff in points, but it’s nothing that really bogs things down at all. In fact it’s a little reminiscent of the 80’s horror films that Smothered is indeed at least partially a tribute to.
Schneider certainly put together an entertaining project with Smothered, one that will be appreciated by horror fans. The use of the traveling group of horror icons in comedic roles is pretty genius, and honestly, Schneider might have gotten the ball rolling on something here. Will it be too long before we see a new version of “The Surreal Life: Horror Icons”? (If wrestling can have “Legends’ House,” why can’t these guys be next?) The cast is great, and the story is a lot of fun. A couple of pimples here and there don’t slow this one down. Horror fans will dig it.
3 1/2 out of 5