BARE BONES: DREAD (2009)

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DREAD (2009)

Dread is a dark film that surprises by having deeper things going on than the deceiving coming attractions would have us believe. It’s a simple but gruesome tale, of college students doing a study on fear…and what could possibly go wrong with that?

The film, written and directed by Anthony DiBlasi (Extremity, Last Shift), from a story by Clive Barker, is actually well made and tries to accomplish something beyond just portraying unpleasantness and pain. DiBlasi gives his sometimes cruel and brutal film, some depth and emotional resonance. That’s the difference between this and the recent trend of torture horror. The violence in the last act is part of the downward spiral the story slowly makes and is not done for it’s own sake, or to outdo the last torture themed flick. It’s not the subject of the film, but an unfortunate result of a character’s unraveling. There are cruel moments, but they are brief and have impact. We feel horrified for the victims, not numbed, as they are people and not just subjects for some SPFX team’s expertise. Not an enjoyable film, on an entertainment level, but an interesting one that was released as part of the After Dark Horrorfest and produced by Barker himself. Stars Jackson Rathbone, Shaun Evans and Hanne Steen, who all perform the material well.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 star rating

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TOMB OF NOSTALGIA: RAWHEAD REX (1987)

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RAWHEAD REX (1987)

(Remember, clicking the highlighted links brings you to other reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

Rawhead Rex is a 1987 British horror based on a short story by Clive Barker. It has a pagan demon (Heinrich von Schellendorf) being unleashed from his tomb in Ireland when a farmer removes a protective stone. The creature goes on a killing spree, claiming victim after victim, till he murders the son (Hugh O’Conor) of an American researcher (David Dukes), who vows to find a way to destroy the monster once and for all.

Flick is lamely directed by George Pavlou from a screenplay by Barker himself. The director fails to bring any scares or intensity to the tale, even with Rex reigning bloody terror on Ireland’s trailer parks and tourists. You’d think that with this local legend being so well known in a small town, to the point of being included in a church stained glass window, that a local farmer would known better than to remove the stone that has imprisoned the beast for centuries. The creature himself is extremely rubbery and when it roars, you can see actor Heinrich von Schellendorf’s own mouth inside it’s maw. The monster is dressed like he’s a member of a Danish heavy metal band, complete with mohawk and there seems to be little rhyme or reason for his killing. It’s very random. There is also little explanation as to why or how Rex gains control of a local priest (Ronan Wilmott) by pissing on him. The acting from a cast of basic unknowns is quite underwhelming and despite the amusement of abundant gore, the make-up and visual FX are all quite cheesy. The climactic confrontation with Rubberhead Rex is also silly and we get little explanation as to why things work out the way they do. It seems made up as they go along…like the rest of the movie, to be honest.

I never understood the love for this flick. It has a decent fan-base and is fondly remembered, but I am not a fan. A recent revisit didn’t change my mind, even with laughably cheesy FX and a lot of 80s nostalgia. It’s not scary. It’s not intense. It has a very thin story that really doesn’t go anywhere and it’s creature is too rubbery and silly looking to be the least bit effective. There is a lot of bloodshed and heads ripped off, but otherwise, little to recommend. For it’s fans only.

 

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 2 rubbery Rexs.

 

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