After Dark Horrorfest 2007 (DVD Box Set)
Reviewed by Uncle Creepy
Starring (Borderland) Sean Astin, Roberto Sosa, Damián Alcázar, Rider Strong; (Unearthed ) M.C. Gainey, Russell Means, Miranda Bailey, Emmanuelle Vaugier; (Tooth and Nail ) Robert Carradine, Michael Madsen, Rachel Miner, Vinnie Jones; (Crazy Eights) Gabrielle Anwar, Traci Lords, Frank Whaley, Dina Meyer; (Nightmare Man) Richard Moll, Tiffany Shepis, Blythe Metz, Luciano Szafir; (The Deaths of Ian Stone) Michael Feast, James Bartle, Mike Vogel, Christina Cole; (Lake Dead) James Burns, Edwin Craig, Kelsey Wedeen, Alex Quinn; (Mulberry Street) Nick Damici, Kim Blair, Ron Brice, Larry Fessenden
Directed by (Borderland) Zev Berman; (Unearthed ) Matthew Leutwyler; (Tooth and Nail ) Mark Young; (Crazy Eights) James Koya Jones; (Nightmare Man) Rolfe Kanefsky; (The Deaths of Ian Stone) Dario Piana; (Lake Dead) George Bessudo; (Mulberry Street) Jim Mickle
Things start off with a defining moment:
Horror: A genre of motion picture intended to thrill viewers by provoking fear or revulsion through the depiction of grotesque, violent, or supernatural events.
So says the trailer for the latest batch of Eight Films to Die For from the folks at After Dark. This, the sequel to the original After Dark Horrorfest, promises much and honestly has a lot to live up to as the previous batch of movies were all-in-all pretty damned good. So how did 2007's crop fare? Well, there's some definite bad sprinkled in with the good so let's start from the beginning.
As with the previous set I'm going to do things a bit differently. Rather than write new reviews for each film, I'm going to just link to their existing reviews so I can spend my time here giving you the skinny on the supplemental materials that await the eager horror hound.
First up --
Borderland (review here)
Things kick off with a torturous tale based upon the true story of three kids who decide to blow off some steam in Mexico before they head to college. Things are going well for our trio until they end up chosen for ritual sacrifice. Never a good thing. Borderland was a standout film in the festival, and it's packed with solid performances, good direction, and some pretty nasty gore. I'm sure the quality of the film went miles in terms of its DVD treatment as this baby is one of only three films in the set to pack some quality extras.
Things kick off with a commentary by director Zev Berman along with actor Brian Presley, producer Lauren Moews, and cinematographer Scott Kevan. Lively and informative, this audio track is a great listen. Also great are the two featurettes. The first, Inside Zev's Head is a twenty-one-minute making-of that introduces us to the director, his inspiration for Borderland, and what he had to do to get this project off the floor and onto the screen. Zev's a personable yet crazy bastard, and I'm sure we'll see some good things from him in the future. The second and last featurette, Rituales De Sangre, clocks in at about twenty-nine minutes and focuses on the actual case this movie is based upon. As always, fact turns out to be more frightening than fiction, and hearing the gory details about what actually happened will haunt you for days to come. There are also some Miss Horrorfest episodes included, but we'll save talking about them for the time being. Lean, yet mean, this is a good little package for a good little film.
3 out of 5
Unearthed (review here)
Remember that bad sprinkled in I was talking about? Well, it starts here. This is just your typical mad scientist unleashing a monster flick minus all the fun of other films just like it. Part flaccid X-Files episode and truly reminiscent of your average Sci-Fi Original Movie, Unearthed is a shambles of a flick from a really promising director. I cannot help but wonder what went wrong here. Matthew Leutwyler's first movie Dead and Breakfast rocked. What a letdown.
Now remember those Miss Horrorfest webisodes I was talking about? They're here too. As a matter of fact, they're on every single DVD in this set. Basically these five mini-featurettes clock in at about twenty minutes combined and follow the contest to crown the new Miss Horrorfest from L.A. to New York and everywhere in-between. If hot Goth babes is your thing, you'll dig. If not, you'll be horridly bored. I know I was.
2 out of 5
Tooth and Nail (review here)
After an apocalypse caused by everyone running out of gas (I shit you not), the world as we know it turns into a desolate wasteland filled with people trying to survive -- and cannibals. Normally this would make me jump for joy as I love a good end of the world flick, but this is just fucking dull. While there are some really good scenes, most of the film is nothing but people sitting around and talking. Joy. Tooth and Nail is a middle of the road kind of film. It's as mediocre as they come. While not terrible, it is instantly forgettable.
In terms of extras we get those damned Miss Horrorfest webisodes and nothing else. Yawn.
2 out of 5
Crazy Eights (review here)
Six friends attending the funeral of a friend are given a map, which they use to dig up an old time capsule that holds some deadly secrets about their past. Atmospheric, creepy, and at times nonsensical, Crazy Eights is sort of the fest's wild card. Here is a film that could have been really good. In fact I'm really not sure why it isn't. It comes just shy of hitting its intended mark, but honestly you can do a lot worse.
At least we have those Miss Horrorfest webisodes. *blank stare*
2 out of 5
Nightmare Man (review here)
Finally some more fun. While on a road trip, a husband and his emotionally scarred wife who believes there's a killer in a devil mask stalking her end up out of gas and shit out of luck. Good thing for them there's a house full of horny kids nearby that they can use as a refuge. Unfortunately for the kids in the house, our heroine's thought-to-be-hallucinations end up turning deadly. But this isn't just your standard slasher film. Nightmare Man has plenty more tricks up its sleeve and in the end turns out to be one of the best films in the set.
It's no surprise that it also ends up being the best DVD, too. It's stuffed with special features, and if you're a Tiffany Shepis fan, you're in for a real treat. From top to bottom, including the extras, this is her movie. Things kick off with a very entertaining commentary with director Rolfe Kanefsky, Tiffany Shepis, and producer Esther Goodstein. In terms of commentaries this is the best in the set bar none. You'll be lauging the whole time. Me likey. From there we have a seven-minute gag reel, five extended scenes clocking in at about seventeen minutes, a five-minute still gallery, those friggin' Miss Horrorfest webisodes, and two featurettes. The first, Tiffany's Behind-the-Scenes, has (you guessed it) Tiffany following the cast and crew around cracking jokes and conducting interviews. At about eighteen minutes this little fucker is packing some serious fun. Good stuff! Next we get a twenty-two-minute featurette called Creating a Nightmare: The Making-of. This is a more straightforward bit of material that is riddled with just about what you'd expect. It's the F/X stuff that shines here; everything else is pretty much paint-by-numbers but completely competent. This DVD is as stacked as its star. Bravo!
4 out of 5
The Deaths of Ian Stone (review here)
Remember Groundhog Day? You know that flick where the main character lives the same day over and over again? Well, here's the horror version of that. Ian Stone ends his day by dying in more and more gruesome ways. I don't want to go any further indepth because I don't want to spoil anything for you, but make no mistake, this little flick is solid. Great acting and super sadistic gore will keep you glued the entire runtime. Sure, it has its pitfalls every now and then, but for the most part the good far outweighs the bad.
Once you're done, be sure to check out the extras! You need to see those Miss Horrorfest webisodes again.
2 out of 5
Lake Dead (review here)
And here we are, folks, the bottom of the barrel. The stench in the air. The shit on the shingle. The worst of the worst. Know what this flick is about? Bullshit, that's what. I'm not even going into it. Go read the review. This shit just plain sucks. The Miss Horrorfest webisodes are better. Good thing they're here. Jesus Christ.
2 out of 5
Mulberry Street (review here)
After that shitfest it's time to cleanse the palette. Mulberry Street does just that. New York has always had a rat problem. I've seen some there that were as big as cats. It's disturbing. But what would happen if these rodents started spreading a new type of plague? One that doesn't just kill its host but turns them into were-rats? Need answers? Look no further. In a word, Mullberry Street is nothing short of excellent. There's no doubt it is the best of the fest. The filmmakers managed to capture all the true flavor of New York while piling the horror up high, thick, and bloody.
The DVD is also blessed with some solid supplemental material. Things kick off with about nine minutes of storyboard to screen comparisons, two deleted scenes that clock in at around four minutes, some early director sketches, three and a half minutes of make-up tests, three minutes of outtakes, and a short featurette the lets us spend some time with the film's rats. Suspiciously missing is a commentary and a real behind-the-scenes featurette, but at least we got something other than the Miss Horr... oh, screw it, I'm not writing it again.
3 1/2 out of 5
Well, there you have it. Another year, another eight films. While not as good as the 2006 fest, we still get some memorable moments and memorable movies. The best part? You can buy either of these films separately, too. Just follow the links to the reviews for what you want, or click the link below for the whole shebang.
See ya next year!
3 1/2 out of 5