Devil's Den (DVD)
Directed by Andrew Dunt
Distributed by Starz Home Entertainment
Okay, stop me if you've heard this one: An assassin, a Spanish Fly dealer, and an ass-kicking demon hunter all walk into a bar ... Sound like the beginning of a bad joke? Maybe, but regardless, that is the formula for the newest From Dusk Till Dawn clone to hit home video. The thing is this one is actually pretty watchable.
Our story begins with Quinn (Sawa) and his buddy Nick (Schub) making their way home to L.A. from Mexico. Quinn has decided that in order to make some extra cash, he is going to start dealing Spanish Fly to his college friends. Nick, disputing the validity of the effect (if any at all) on any taker, bets Quinn that it doesn't work. Time to settle the bet. How, you ask? Pull over to the nearest titty bar and slip any lovely lady boozing a quick mickey. To our horny duo's delight, the Spanish Fly seems to work like a charm as before you know it Quinn's getting hot and heavy with one of the establishment's hottest strippers.
The only problem is this chick is a lot more than horny. In the end, she seems to be a hell of a lot more toothy than anything else. With the help of a mysterious woman named Caitlin (Hu), Quinn escapes the demoness and heads back into the bar to warn the rest of the crowd that there's some strange stuff going on. That's when the shit really hits the fan. Before you can say "The Gecko Brothers," all of the bar's strippers turn into flesh-hungry ghouls. It's a good thing for Quinn and Caitlin that they have some tough back-up who just happened to be at the bar in the form of a samurai sword wielding ghostbuster named Leonard (Foree). Can this ever bickering trio last the night against a horde of hell whores? That's our set-up.
Right off the bat you'll notice one thing about Devil's Den, and that's its overall quality. This is a horror/action/comedy hybrid. For it to work it needs actors with chemistry and a director who knows when to reign his cast in and when to just let them go. For the most part everything is on par. Well, everything except for some of the demonic dialogue. Hearing lines like "How dare you enter my lair" spouted with a slight reverb to denote that it's a demon talking could very well be enough to make you just hit the power button and call it a night. These moments are seriously eye-rolling bad. I don't think there's an actor in the world who could make them seem less cheesy.
Those few instances of horrid writing aside, this flick is a lot of fun. Hu has a great look except for most of her fight scenes (I swear she actually says "HiYah" at one point) and the times when she's firing her guns. Every time she pulled out her firearms, visions of House of the Dead kept floating through my head. Sawa is perfect as the wisecracking kid who just wants to get the fuck out of Dodge, and Foree turns in one hell of a good performance himself, nailing the badass part like only he can. There's no denying these guys have got chemistry to spare, and that alone will keep you watching as Devil's Den goes from kind of cool to mind-numbingly dumb and then back again to kind of cool.
Also, despite a few sticky scenes, Devil's Den comes up a little shy on the gore. Normally this wouldn't be too much of a problem or even that noticeable, but when the first attack starts up, it's impossible to not compare this scene to the orgy of violence that was in From Dusk Till Dawn. I know, I know, judge on its own merits, yadda yadda yadda.
On the extras side of the fence, things also come off a bit on the short side. We get around a ten-minute long featurette detailing your standard making-of stuff, a photo gallery, a blooper reel, and a commentary with the director, producer, and composer. While the commentary certainly wasn't bad as everyone was fairly personable and energetic, this baby was just screaming for one with the cast.
All in all, not a bad watch. Dare I say it; I think I'd even check out a sequel should everyone come back. Devil's Den may be extremely derivative at times, but it's far from being From Dusk Till Yawn. Check it out if only to see Ken Foree slicing up demonic bitches! Who needs Macumba when you're packing cold steel?
Belly of the Beast: The Making-of Devil's Den featurette
3 out of 5
2 out of 5
Discuss Devil's Den in our forums!