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]yahoo.com. I'd love to check out what you got.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Dead Tone aka 7eventy 5ive (2007)

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I first had this film in my Netflix queue under its original title, 7eventy 5ive. I actually think I had it on there twice, under that title and the Seventy Five, neither of which is spelled right. Anyway, it ended up in the Saved portion of the queue, where either films that will be released soon go, or films that are out of print go, and I figured, since it wasn't a new release, it was there for the latter reason. Then mysteriously some film called Dead Tone rose to the top of my Saved queue with a release date of February 9, 2010. I didn't think anything of it, because I have so many movies in my queue that I lose track of them. It was only when I looked it up on imdb before I reviewed it that I learned the truth: it was 7eventy 5ive re-released as Dead Tone.

Dead Tone is about some kids having a sleepover while their parents are having a cocktail party in the same house. They make some prank calls, call the wrong guy, and he shows up with an axe and murders all their parents. Ten years later, some twenty-somethings are being murdered in a similar fashion, and detective Rutger Hauer learns someone is killing the kids whose parents were murdered back then. Now a group of kids, some of whom were there that night, go to a secluded mansion for a party, and one of them is a total asshole who (inexplicably) convinces them all to play the prank phone call game-- with the same disastrous results.

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As much as this is a bad Scream rip-off that didn't get the point of why Scream was good, as a slasher film it didn't seem any worse than say the new My Bloody Valentine or Friday the 13th films-- or really any bad teen slasher film. Former NFL player Kyle Turley was the killer. How much scarier can you get than a former NFL player wielding an axe? You can't escape him, he can out run you, out fight you. There were some great kills too. These are the things you look for in a great horror film, and it had them. Even if it was a little off in the execution and didn't quite work, I can think of many, like See No Evil, that had a better fate than Dead Tone.

That made me wonder why it wasn't held in any better regard, why it was relegated not only to DTV-dom, but this kind of lowest of the low that gets re-released with a new name in the hopes maybe someone would rent it. Sure, the original name was stupid as all get out, which probably necessitated a reboot, but still, I needed some answer as to why this was lost in the shuffle. One thing I realized while watching it was that the only redeemable character was the rich dude who owned the mansion, and the film tried everything it could to cram him into the heel role. The truth was, the guys that were supposed to be the heroes or the ones we wanted to root for were total assholes that deserved the axe much more than the so-called heel. That then leaves another question: why would you not make your heroes cooler characters? How could you not see this flaw during the movie making process?

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That's when I went on imdb for a little info on who made this bad boy. I found a name, Deon Taylor Entertainment, which had a bio, written and submitted by them, that extolled the virtues of one Mr. Deon Taylor. It spared no expense telling us how great he was, how he conquered the "music game", how he had a career in the NBA and still tears it up in the NBA Entertainers League. Now I'm seeing a pattern. I'm seeing Deon Taylor pitching his film, telling people it's the greatest thing ever, because he's the greatest thing ever. I can see him wanting heroes that are assholes like him, thinking they're the bomb when they aren't, like he probably thinks his movie's the bomb, when it isn't. And through all this, I can see distributors at the big dogs thinking "get this guy out of here so I don't have to listen to him again!" (I'm just as sure as I said all of this that if Mr. Taylor reads this he'll call me a "hater" who lives in his parents' basement while Mr. Taylor is out stacking cash. It works as a security blanket to insulate one from criticism, but sometimes criticism is what it takes to make movies that are likable.)

The main reason why I even considered this film is Rutger Hauer, and, as you can imagine, it was a good old fashioned Rutger Hauer bait-and-switch. I feel kind of dumb, because this is the newest Rutger Hauer film I have up here, and it came out in 2007 (or 2010). He just turned 66, so one would think he'd have a ways to go before he was done, but it just seems like these small roles are more par for the course with him. I can understand that on some levels, but when he does a movie like Dead Tone, there's almost a Kinski-esque element to it, like he's taking the worst movie with the shortest shooting time for the most money.

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And there was some money involved in this film. In the opening credits, listed as producers, I saw some famous athlete names, a few of which are above. You had former Sacremento Kings Bobby Jackson and Mitch Richmond, former Denver Broncos Ray Crockett and Steve Atwater, and my personal fave, former Pats linebacker Willie McGuinest (I still have his jersey from the 1996 season, my only Pats jersey). I'm sure they could pony up some cash for Mr. Hauer's services. As far as other actors you might recognize, Flavor Flav was some kind of host to open the movie, playing himself. Cherie Johnson, from Punky Brewster was one of the kids. Other kids included the wannabe wrestler from The Gingerdead Man as the rich kid who owned the mansion, Aimee Garcia from George Lopez (never saw the show, so I didn't recognize her), and then this dude Austin Basis, who for some reason I forgot to capture an image of, but it was killing me the whole movie trying to figure out what I knew him from.

This is neither cute low-budget horror film or fun teen slasher film. It could've been both, but the hubris of its director/producer/writer killed it. I'm sure he's telling people he also conquered the "movie game", but he didn't even come close. Anyone can remake Scream with none of the charm, satire, or creativity, and with all of the stupidity-- you don't need a super sized ego for that.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0462160/

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