Reviewed by Uncle Creepy
Starring James Gammon, Brad William Henke, Adam Kaufman, Catherine Mangan, Paul McCarthy-Boyington, Michael C. Williams, Misty Rosas, Joe Unger
Directed by Eduardo Sánchez
Distributed by Universal / Rogue Pictures
Sit back, dear reader. Get comfortable. You're about to read a scathing review. Venom is coursing through my veins, and it's time for me to start spewing. Please be aware, my anger is not directed at the film Altered in any way. Instead, it's aimed solely at the big studio buffoons who dropped the ball by sentencing this gem of a movie to direct-to-video hell in lieu of a well deserved theatrical release. More on that in a bit. First let's tackle the movie itself.
Several years ago a little flick called The Blair Witch Project turned the indie scene on its ass. After becoming the highest grossing independent feature of all time, the film soon suffered a lot of backlash from people who felt duped that it wasn't for real. In fact, for whatever reason it's almost en vogue now to dislike the movie. What a fickle audience we are. Sigh. Anyway, love it or hate it, The Blair Witch Project stands as a sterling example of the power of independent cinema by offering proof positive that you do not have to buy into the mainstream Hollywood machine in order to make an uber-successful movie.
Finally, after nearly a decade, Blair Witch co-director Eduardo Sánchez is back with another disturbing trip into the woods, one that yields not a witch of ancient lore, but something else not of this earth.
People have been claiming to have been abducted by aliens for several decades now. While some are obviously kooks in search of a little anal action, there are a few cases that offer evidence that quite frankly cannot be explained. Altered introduces us to a small group of friends who fell victim to just such an occurrence. After being probed and prodded, our heroes were returned home with a bad case of the old "I want revenge" syndrome. For several years they've hunted their then captors, until one fateful night they finally catch their bounty. But now what? They've got one of the creatures all tied up but have absolutely no idea what to do with it. "I never really thought we'd really catch one," says one of our payback seekers. But was it too easy? Could it be a trap? Maybe the aliens have a different agenda.
For those wondering, yes, Sánchez can direct a non-documentary style film and still deliver the goods; Altered is an old school gooey blast of a movie. There's so much right about this film it's hard to know where to start. The acting is way above average (keep an eye out for a near unrecognizable member of the Blair Witch alumni, Mike Williams), the special effects are stellar, and best of all -- the creature is not a silly looking CGI mess. Oh, the joys of practical effects! I'll take a dude in a rubber suit any day over the now standard out-of-place looking poorly rendered cartoons we've grown tired of seeing populate our creature features. And let me make special mention of the gore. Holy shit! Parts of this movie made me, a truly jaded motherfucker, cringe. In fact, Altered sports the best intestine tug-o-war™ that I've seen since the George A. Romero masterpiece Day of the Dead.
There's no question this movie is the shit; yet, there are a couple of minor things that keep Altered from the greatness that it could have attained. For instance, some of the characters who get completely mangled live on for way too long after they've been attacked. I'm sorry, but evisceration is never followed by conversation on the part of the victim. These scenes, while well acted, convey a kind of silly feel. Speaking of silly, the ending is a little on the questionable side as well. Not to spoil anything, but if you're hiding from a group of aliens who are laying siege to your home, you may not want to hide in a bunker with a hatch that's painted canary yellow. It's just kind of conspicuous. Other than that there's nothing in Altered that looks or feels even remotely direct-to-video. So the question beckons, why didn't it get a theatrical release? I'll sum up the answer for you in just five short words:
Studio executives can be schmucks.
I cannot help but wonder what the fuck is wrong with Universal. Here's a studio who birthed some of the greatest horror franchises ever starting way back in the Thirties, and now they couldn't market a horror movie if their lives depended on it. Hey remember all those cool ads for Slither? No? Me either. Wait! How about their near non-existent ad campaign for George A. Romero's long awaited return to the zombie genre, Land of the Dead? No commercials. No billboards. No press. No posters. Now that's how you keep the public uninformed! It's genius I tell you! One would think that they're ashamed of the genre, despite it bailing their asses out of near bankruptcy in the Sixties. Carl Laemmle, Jr. must be spinning in his grave. For more on this truly sad state of affairs, check out Sánchez's four-part blog on MySpace. It's infuriating.
And what of the supplemental material? Ha! The true question is where is the supplemental material? I'll tell you where, on the film's official website and on its MySpace page. What the fuck, man?!? Throw us a fucking bone here! The DVD opens with the usual "Views and opinions expressed in the commentary are not that of ..." jazz, but there is no commentary. Hell there's not even a trailer. All we get are five minutes of deleted scenes. Gee. Thanks. What a score. *bangs head on desk in hopes of making the pain go away* Unreal.
How third-rate cookie-cutter tripe like Rogue Picture's own Cry_Wolf can get a theatrical release and this can't is beyond me. Maybe Sánchez should have hired Bon Jovi as his lead and surrounded him with a cast of fresh-faced 16-year-olds. That apparently they can market. For shame.
If there is a God in this world, this movie will sell huge on DVD and finally find its audience. I say we make it happen if only for spite. Clickify the link below. Order it for yourself and for your friends. Show the studio how clueless they really are, and do so with a clear conscience. Despite its few shortcomings, Altered is a must see.
Be sure to click here to listen to Johnny Butane's audio interview with director Eduardo Sanchez to learn more about the film!
4 out of 5
1 out of 5
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