Reviewed by Johnny Butane
Starring Leon Blum, Jude Hickey, Christin Sawyer Davis, Jalene Mack, Morgan McCarthy
Directed by Stacy Davison
I know the title may lead you to believe that the film is about a haunted website but you’d be wrong. What Domain of the Damned is, however, is one of the most ambitious low-budget indie horror films that I’ve seen. Why Davidson had to release this well-stacked DVD on his own instead of it finding distribution, when every film made by someone Uli Lommel keeps getting released, is indicative of what’s wrong with our genre today.
Domain of the Damned is the story of a drifter with a dark past named Jerod (Hickey) who wanders into a small town looking for work. The only work available is at the local haunted house, the kind of haunted house I wish they had near me during the Halloween season, so of course he takes the work. Opening night of the house sees the usual local patrons looking for scares, as well as a group of drunken DJs from the local radio station and a girl looking for her lost nephew. None of them have anything in common save for the fact that before the night is over, they’ll get a real glimpse of hell.
While the haunted house is in and of itself impressive, full of lots of great attractions that some real work was put into, the things living in the basement of the attraction are the real scares and when they break loose, hell comes with them. Couple all this with a curse hanging over the head of Jerod that will force him to come face-to-face with the Angel of Death, and you can begin to understand why I can say this is one damn ambitious indie film.
Don’t get me wrong, Domain still suffers from the pitfalls most independent horrors have; sub-par acting, questionable ADR, choppy editing, but most of these can be overlooked because it’s just got a helluva lot of heart. It’s clear that Davidson and crew crammed as much as they possibly could into this film, everything from great gore gags to badass prosthetic effects to an incredibly sharp-looking (again, for an indie) CG monster.
Hopefully now that Domain has some form of release more of you will get out there and check it out. If you’re sick as hell of all the low-budget zombie or ghost movies and crave for a film that wants to show you wall-to-wall monsters, this baby will not let you down.
Despite (or maybe because of) the film being self-released, the DVD is packed with more than enough goodies to make it worth your time. To start off, there are two commentary tracks, one with Davidson solo and one with Davidson joined by Art Director/FX man Mike Oliver, Make-up Supervisor/Star Morgan McCarthy and Key Grip Spencer Selph. Obviously the solo Davidson one is more technical while the cast/crew commentary is more anecdotal and fun, but both are full of info as to how they managed to put together a film that belies its budget at ever turn.
Then there’s “Texas Creature Feature”, a series of still photographs narrated by Davidson which details how most of the makeup and CG effects were accomplished. This is a great resource for anyone out there who thinks they just don’t have the money or resources to make their vision a reality cause if these guys can do it, so can you.
“Blood, Sweat & Duct Tape” is a 45-minute making of featurettes that has both still photography with narration as well as a ton of behind-the-scenes footage shot by Davidson and friends. This is one feature I think could’ve used a bit of trimming, I don’t think stuff like this should ever be longer than 30 minutes unless it’s Full Tilt Boogie, but it is robust and isn’t repetitive what’s come before it, so it’s worth a viewing.
If you’re curious about Domain of the Damned, if you really want to see what can be done with very little money and a helluva lot of ambition, I recommend you click here to get your copy of it now. Again, it’s not a perfect film, but it is a good remedy for the glut of low-budget schlock we find ourselves staring down on a daily basis. And if nothing else, it’s got some truly kick ass monsters!
3 1/2 out of 5
4 out of 5
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