The Direct to Video Connoisseur

I'm a huge fan of action, horror, sci-fi, and comedy, especially of the Direct to Video variety. In this blog I review some of my favorites and not so favorites, and encourage people to comment and add to the discussion. If you click on an image, it will take you to that post's image page, which includes many more pics from the film and other goodies I couldn't fit in the actual review. For announcements and updates, don't forget to Follow us on Twitter and Like our Facebook page. If you're the director, producer, distributor, etc. of a low-budget feature length film and you'd like to send me a copy to review, you can contact me at dtvconnoisseur[at] I'd love to check out what you got.



Hi everyone, it's been a while since I checked the page, and I wanted to make a few announcements.

First and foremost, it appears a dubious site has claimed the old url, meaning any link in any review that goes to the old mattmovieguy url is corrupt. I'm in the process of trying to remove them all, but it's a lot! It's best not to click on any link without hovering over it first to make sure it doesn't have mattmovieguy in the url.

Second, it appears since my last trip to the blog, Photobucket has decided to charge for third party hosting, meaning none of my images are appearing anymore. That's simply an aesthetic issue, but still annoying.

Thank you all for your patience, and again, hopefully this will all be fixed soon.


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Children of Wax aka The Killing Grounds (2005)


I think I first got wind of this film when Netflix recommended it to me after I put something else in my queue. A lot of times what they recommend is some Nicolas Cage or Will Smith sack-of-asscrack, but every once in a while they recommend something like this that has some potential.

The Killing Grounds takes place in Berlin and focuses on the tension between the Turkish population and the local skinheads. Daniel Bernhardt plays a Turkish ganglord who, with his younger brother, is fighting a group of skinheads trying to muscle in on his turf. Then some children are found dead. They're Turkish, but have been painted white. The Turks and local police blame the skinheads, but detective Armand Assante, himself playing a Turk, is called in to investigate, and he thinks there's more going on here. He's right, but can he get to the bottom of things before a war breaks out between the two gangs.


I kind of dug what this movie was going for. I liked the idea of having racial tensions in Berlin as a backdrop. Those kinds of things are often only depicted in American cities. On the other hand, the storyline focusing on the serial killer bordered on too Lifetime-y, and the one about the gang war can't decide if it wants to be an action film or a drama. That's never good, because we know in the end it's the action that suffers, and no one wants that.

This is the eighth film reviewed that featured Daniel Bernhardt in it. That's good for most among actors not in the DTVC Hall of Fame. That may change with all the Ice-T in the pipeline and the fact that I'm running out of Bernhardt to review. Anyway, in this he plays a Turk, which wasn't made clear immediately, so I thought maybe he was an Israeli. Boy, do I have egg on my face. He has like one or two decent fight scenes, and they weren't even that decent. For someone who kicks as much ass as he does, he needed to do it more here. Complete waste.


Armand Assante was solid as a man of Turkish decent growing up in Germany. Considering he grew up in New York City, it was amazing how well he made us believe he was at home in Berlin. I'm curious to see him play Nietzsche in When Nietzsche Wept, which I heard was a horrible movie. He's a great professional actor who always seems to turn in a quality performance, and it's kind of surprising he found his way into a stinker like this. According to imdb, he's always working, so it can't be that. It's possible that the part intrigued him, which, if that's true, would be really cool.

Whenever a film takes place in a non-English speaking country, there's always the issue of what to do about the language. The Pianist probably did the best job, having all the Polish characters speak English, and the Germans speak German, to keep them as foreigners. In other cases, like this movie, you have the deal where they want everyone to speak English, but then have the characters say occasional terms in their native tongue, like a Scheise! here or there. That makes no sense. I understand not putting the film in German in order to make it more accessible to the US, where you'd get the most cash; but it looks silly if they relapse randomly. It's like they're speaking English to each other as a second language. Any bad movie director looking to set a film in Europe, watch The Pianist.


I don't know what Udo Kier was doing in this. He plays the serial killer, which makes sense, because Kier likes playing villains; but he must be getting scripts for much better work. How could you not want Udo Kier in your film? Exactly. He's Udo Fucking Kier. Maybe he dug this gig because it was close to home in Germany, but that doesn't make any sense either, because imdb says he lives in LA. Maybe, since he's in this so little, he was shooting something else near by, and figured he'd make a little extra cash. God, I hope so.

The reality is, this is a snooze fest that'll first sedate you, then anger you when you realize you spent money to watch it. Don't be that guy or girl, don't spend money on it. Take the money you would've spent, and get yourself something nice: you deserve it.

For more info:


  1. Great Site!

    If you enjoyed The Killing Grounds, you got to watch the DTV classic Dot.Kill with Armand Assante!

  2. Thanks, I'm glad you dig the site, I'll have to check out Dot.Kill some time.

  3. the quality of this movie is just... ridiculus... it wasnt turned in berlin, it was turned in bulagry, and its realy easy to see the difference. sometimes you even see some bulgarian traffic-signs.

    even in the german version, the police radio is in english.

    the actors have a bulgarian accent, even those who play german cops.

    the uniforms of the cops dont fit!

    and so on.

    its just about the badest movie i ve ever seen! and also the story is just interesting if your prettymuch brainfucked. from the beginning on you can tell, that the skins werent the killers. its just obvious.

  4. The idea of wanting to explore racial tensions in Berlin was a noble one, but the execution was sauteed in wrong sauce, and that's where it falls into your bad category for me.