Two Horror Films from Image
Driftwood (January 9/08)
Overwrought and overplayed, Driftwood casts Raviv Ullman as David Forrester - a troubled young man who is sent to the titular attitude-adjustment camp after his parents stumble upon some suicidal diary entries. There, David's initial problems blending in - as well as his confrontational relationship with the institute's sadistic captain (Diamond Dallas Page's Kennedy) - are compounded by the presence of a ghostly apparition that may or may not be his dead brother. Filmmaker Tim Sullivan - working from a script co-written with Chris Kobin - has infused Driftwood with a pointless, downright amateurish sensibility that extends to virtually every aspect of the proceedings, with the underwhelming performances and eye-rollingly broad plot developments only exacerbating the film's many problems. Sullivan's heavy-handed efforts at hammering home an increasingly obvious message - ie these places do more harm than good - ultimately negate the movie's few positive attributes, and it's also worth noting that the more overtly scary elements within Sullivan and Kobin's clunky screenplay fall completely flat (this includes the anti-climactic, painfully drawn-out finale).
Undead or Alive
Set in the Old West, Undead or Alive follows a pair of cowboys (James Denton's sturdy Elmer and Chris Kattan's goofy Luke) as they're forced to evade an army of zombies after robbing a crooked sheriff (Matt Besser's Claypool). The almost overwhelmingly silly vibe with which director Glasgow Phillips has infused the proceedings admittedly does take a while to get used to, with the almost total lack of laughs within the film's opening half hour certainly not helping matters. Yet there does reach a point where one can't help but embrace the relentlessly lighthearted tone, as the palpable chemistry between Elmer and Luke becomes increasingly difficult to resist (their relationship is ultimately reminiscent of Riggs and Murtaugh, except with cowboys and zombies). And while there's exceedingly little within Undead or Alive that's been designed to scare the viewer - the ick factor is pretty high, though - the film primarily comes off as an amiable piece of work that undoubtedly benefits from the inspired casting of Brian Posehn as a blood-thirsty zombie.