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.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Hallettsville (2009)

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I've had this film in my Netflix Instant Queue for I don't know how long. It's always been pushed aside for something else-- even in some cases other Gary Busey films-- with the mindset that I'd get to it some other time. When I knew I was going to review Dead Tone, with another DTVC Hall of Famer, Rutger Hauer, I figured this was as good a time as any to finally watch this one too. It ended up being a perfect juxtaposition to that other film.

Hallettsville is about a kid who wants to check out his family's ranch in the Texas town of the same name. He brings some of his friends with him, and his ex girlfriend who wants to reconcile their relationship. The problem is, the land is haunted, after a deranged man killed all the kids in a one-room school house that used to sit on the ranch house's property back in 1901. When his friends start dying, the only one he can turn to is the town's sheriff, one Mr. Gary Busey.

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Quality wise, this is lacking compared to Dead Tone but soul wise, this has Dead Tone in spades. Sure, it's a lower budget indie style horror film, and the story and kills are a little iffy, but at the very least you had something made by someone who loves horror films and made something that exuded that love. You won't see the people involved writing bios of themselves on imdb letting us know that they "conquered the horror game" or the "rap game". It may not be great, but it was made for all the right reasons, and for that alone you got to respect them.

Unlike Hauer in Dead Tone, Busey in Hallettsville was used slightly more. He really only appears for a second in the beginning, when he pulls over the kids; but then at the end of the film he comes in and plays a big part, pretty much saving the day. More than anything, despite an overall low level of Abusiveness due to his small role, in the scenes he was in he maximized the Abusiveness to give us a final respectable Abusive Scale number of 6.5, making it fairly Abusive. Man, it's been too long since I pulled out the Abusive Scale.

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One big problem this movie had was its ten-minute long epilogue. I'm not sure if maybe the two girls and Busey, who were all featured in the epilogue, had a certain amount of screen time written into their contracts that needed to be fulfilled, but it was just weird. Had this been a theatrical release and I had to take a leak, I'd want to kill someone. Luckily, on Netflix, I can just press pause. Still, even at 87 minutes, when the last ten is epilogue, you really gotta know when to wrap it up.

One girl in this, whose real name I think is Brooke Baker (it was hard to tell because on imdb she doesn't have a picture, and I couldn't remember her character's name, so I had to do a process of elimination) was a total hottie. According to imdb, she doesn't have any other credits, but this only came out a year ago, so we'll see what happens. Not to keep harping on Dead Tone and Deon Taylor Entertainment, but a mover and shaker like you with his hands in the rap game and the movie making game should've been able to come up with better talent than what you had, and to have this low-budget indie deal cast a girl much hotter than any of the women you could get was kind of interesting. I'm just saying...

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Finally, this was shot in part in Hallettsville, and in part in Austin, TX, a city I've always wanted to visit. I've been to San Antonio, which is close, but no cigar. As a Mainer who grew up within an hour of Boston, Texas has the feel of a foreign country to me, as does a lot of the US. It's one of the things that makes the US so cool, that you can have a Boston, a Maine, and a Texas all within the same national borders. Also, though, I feel it makes for a great diversity of creepy places to set horror films, and underlies the importance of filming these things in something at least close to the location of where they're set. Replacing Texas for Vancouver might be cheaper, but had that been done in this case it would've made a bad horror film into a bad horror film with no charm or redeemability. One of the things that made Busey so great was you could see the Goose Creek, TX coursing in his veins, which you often don't see when he's working in another part of the country. The same could be said for shooting movies based on Steven King novels in Maine.

If you have Netflix Watch Instantly and are looking for a bad horror film, this is a great choice. 87 minutes and great Busey (even if it's in a smaller role), plus some fun but not-so-great low budget horror, and you have a recipe for success-- at least you do for me. In any case, it's more fun that Dead Tone.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0760169/

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