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.
Friday, September 13, 2013
This is one we've been hearing about for a long time. It was shot back in 2006, and I think as early as 2008 Netflix was listing it as something you could put in the "Saved" section of you DVD queue. Finally it made it out a few months ago, but it was stuck on "Long Wait" status, so I couldn't get it. I got Amour instead, then became busy and didn't get a chance to watch that, having it at home for almost two weeks (a really great movie by the way), and by the time I got it watched and the DVD back to Netflix, this was finally available, and we're finally doing it now.
Gallowwalkers stars DTVC favorite Wesley Snipes as Aman, a man whose lover is raped by five men, and then dies giving birth to the child that was consummated in the assault. Snipes swears revenge on them, and kills them all. But what connection do they have to the undead-- known locally as "gallowwalkers"-- who are terrorizing the people living in the small desert communities around which Snipes lives, and if they can't die, how can Snipes defeat them?
I really enjoyed this movie. First off, it was really striking visually. It was a mix of a lot of great Western conventions, from the desolate landscapes to the Sergio Leone-style extreme close-ups. The colors popped, the sets were all nice, and the actors all seemed to be on board with the director's vision. This was an out-there concept for a movie, with it having some real macabre elements, but not exactly being a horror movie; yet too many horror conventions to be a straight-ahead Western; and despite being that out-there, the cast bought in, which brought the whole film together. Snipes especially was into this, and it showed. He was the lead, and he relished it, and made the film that much more fun. I didn't know what to expect when I went in, but what I got was a really cool movie that mixed a lot of genres and influences and gave us something truly unique and entertaining.
We haven't seen Snipes on here in over 2 1/2 years, when we did Game of Death, but man, what a way to come back. This is as good a Snipes as I've seen in a long time. I watched the behind the scenes interviews featurette, and the fact that he was in that at all was big, because a lot of times the name actor of the film doesn't do the interviews for that; but beyond that, he sounded really excited to be working on this project, and was also excited that the film was shot in Namibia and hoped it could help build the film industry there. All of that came through in his performance, plus we know from the Blade series that he can lead a film like this, and it all worked. Definitely nice to have him back.
One thing I liked about the approach to this Western is that it felt like it was set in a liminal space. I think even Snipes himself said his character was trapped in a kind of purgatory. A lot of Westerns end up like that by default, but there's always this idea that these isolated areas are somehow a part of the greater United States or Mexico, depending on where they're set. Here it was like these people and this place were not exactly in this realm. Even the ordinary things weren't quite real. Yet even in all of that, at its core this film is a Western, and the fastest gun still wins. It was a really great use of a lot of traditional Western devices.
We had some other interesting people in this. Patrick Bergin has a small role as the hanging marshal in a small town called Enoch's Hammer. I always like seeing him on here. Kevin Howarth played the main baddie. The same way that Snipes seemed to enjoy being the hero, he was great as the villain. Riley Smith played Fabulos, the young gun who Snipes recruits to help him take out Howarth's gang. He was a great second to Snipe's character, where he looked young enough to not be at Snipe's level, but old enough to look like he knew what he was doing. Then there was the great former wrestler Dallas Page, who played one of the baddie's hatchet men. He wore a big metal helmet most of the time, and when it was off his face was obscured by a lot of make-up. Finally, the woman who played Snipe's adopted mother was great too, but I don't know who she is because she doesn't have her picture on her imdb. This is a message to all actors and actresses out there: get your picture on imdb, that's how we find out who you are.
Finally, we've seen Tanit Phoenix on here a fair amount. She was in Lost Boys: The Thirst, and the two Death Race prequels, all three filmed in her native South Africa. This was by far her best performance, but I think that was because she had the material here. The character was written like and had the aesthetic of Claudia Cardinale's character in Once Upon in the West, and from there I think Phoenix was able to bring her style to the role. Especially in the Death Race prequels, there's a one dimensionality to her character, even over two films, so it was good to see her get something more rounded and see what she could do with it.
I think this is a must see, but it is a different film, so if you're not up for that I'd say wait on it. I thought it was great, and I was glad to finally make it happen. As of right now you can get this on the usual DVD suspects, like Netflix and RedBox.
For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0829176/