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Three Horror Films from Anchor Bay

Abominable (May 22/07)

Thoroughly uneven yet undeniably entertaining, Abominable casts Matt McCoy as Preston Rogers - a recovering paraplegic who has returned to his cabin in the woods for the first time since his wife's tragic death. Trapped within the confines of his small room, Preston spends his time peeking at his neighbors with high-powered binoculars - a hobby that comes in handy after an eight-foot monster starts to wreak some serious havoc. Writer/director Ryan Schifrin does an effective job of infusing the proceedings with a sense of style that generally masks the shoestring budget, while the filmmaker's tongue-in-cheek sensibilities ultimately lend the proceedings a lighthearted vibe (one that is, thankfully, punctuated by several appreciatively gruesome moments). McCoy delivers a thoroughly compelling performance that cements his status as a lamentably underappreciated character actor, though there's little doubt that he's occasionally overshadowed by scene-stealing cameo appearances by folks like Lance Henriksen, Jeffrey Combs, and Paul Gleason (the latter is especially entertaining here, and - at one point - can be spotted drinking from a mug that reads, "Don't Mess With The Bull"). And although the movie sort of peters out as it approaches its increasingly conventional finale, Abominable certainly stands heads-and-shoulders above the majority of its straight-to-video horror brethren.

out of

Dark Corners (May 20/07)

Dark Corners is yet another tedious, egregiously confusing horror flick that seems to be aiming for a David Lynchian sort of tone but instead winds up an entirely interminable piece of work. The story, which has something to do with two women (both played by Thora Birch) who are plagued by nightmares, doesn't at any point make a lick of sense and one consequently can't shake the notion that writer/director Ray Gower is making all of this stuff up as the movie progresses (the infuriatingly nonsensical conclusion only cements this feeling). Gower's reliance on heavily-stylized visuals - coupled with his penchant for writing unusually laughable bits of dialogue - quickly transforms Dark Corners into a headache-inducing ordeal, while the almost uniformly amateurish performances (even Birch, so good in Ghost World, seems woefully out of place here) lends the production a distinctly low-rent, straight-to-video sort of vibe. And while the emphasis on random acts of brutality is certainly appreciated (a shocking moment cribbed from The Exorcist III notwithstanding), Dark Corners is ultimately far too incoherent and downright silly to come off as anything more than a failed experiment.

out of

Dead and Deader (May 22/07)

While Dead and Deader isn't even remotely as awful as some of writer/producer Mark A. Altman's previous efforts - ie House of the Dead II and Room 6 - there's little doubt that the relentless emphasis on cornball jokes and egregiously quirky supporting characters ultimately renders the film's few positive attributes moot. The movie stars Dean Cain as Bobby Quinn, an American soldier whose entire platoon is seemingly wiped out during a routine mission in Cambodia. Back at home, Bobby awakens during his own autopsy and quickly realizes that he's been infected with a parasite that transforms its host into a zombie. Director Patrick Dinhut does an effective job of infusing the film with several inventive gross-out scenes (including a zombie whose arm gets stuck in a meat-grinder), but there's little he can do to combat the flat-out atrocious dialogue offered up by screenwriters Altman and Steven Kriozere. Such problems are exacerbated by the inclusion of several overt plot holes (ie Cain's Bobby is arrested by a skeptical higher-up, even though he's just killed a half-dozen zombies and left a small room covered in green blood) and the presence of a sassy black guy who lives up to virtually every stereotype that one could possibly imagine (that he says "oh, hell no!" goes without saying). Cain's predictably charismatic performance generally ensures that Dead and Deader remains reasonably entertaining throughout its mercifully short running time, though one can't help but marvel at Altman's continued success within the straight-to-video horror genre.

out of

About the DVDs: All three films arrive on DVD courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment, armed with anamorphically-enhanced transfers (Dark Corners is the exception to this, despite what the packaging says). Extras on each disc prove to be plentiful.
© David Nusair