Tuesday, October 24, 2006

DVD Review

Over at Night of the Living Podcast (the coolest podcast on the Net, by the by) they have an ongoing feature called "Straight to Video Russian Roullette." That's kind of how I feel every time I check out one of these direct to video horror titles. These are the modern equivalents of drive-in movies, so this is where tomorrow's B-movie classics will come from. Every time I watch such a film, though, I run the serious risk of taking a bullet to the head (calm down, people, that's a metaphor). Let's face it, during the drive-in era, for every Night of the Living Dead or Texas Chainsaw Massacre there were twenty films like Movie House Massacre or Curse of the Screaming Dead. I doubt Voodoo Moon is in any danger of being called a classic, but it didn't fire hot lead into my brain pan (metaphorically or literally) and despite a few disappointments it's actual a fun little bit of B movie hokum.

Twenty years ago a young brother and sister were the sole survivors of a demonic slaughter in a small town. The brother, Cole, has spent the years since fighting Daniel, the demon responsible for the murder of his parents and hundreds of others. His sister Heather (Charisma Carpenter) is a successful artist with a habit of sketching things before they happen. When Cole learns that the entity that killed their parents has resurfaced, he recruits Heather, as well as a handful of others who have helped him fight the demon in the past. Cole and his followers congregate at a boarding house near where the mass murder took place, though Cole and Heather's home town is now at the bottom of a man made lake.

Watching Voodoo Moon gave me a sense of deja vu. At first I assumed I had watched the trailer, but I eventually realized I'd actually seen the movie before, or at least parts of it. Voodoo Moon ran on the Sci Fi Channel awhile ago, and I watched several minutes one day while channel surfing. This seems odd, premiering a film on basic cable before releasing it on DVD, but it's become a common practice for the Sci Fi Channel.

I've always loved Charisma Carpenter's name. It sounds like it should belong to an exotic dancer who can build a wicked awesome set of bookshelves. Carpenter was one of the stars of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its spin-off series Angel, and her character of Cordelia was an important part of the Buffy-verse. That's why it's so dissatisfying to see her in this role. She's got plenty of screen time, but aside from functioning as a confidant to the hero, damsel in distress, and eye candy, the part has no substance.

Eric Mabius is a bit hard to swallow as Cole, with his soap opera star prettyboy looks and scar over one eye. It makes him look like a comic book character. Rik Young as Daniel seems a bit too young for the role. Sure, I suppose a demon can take on any form it wants, but I think an older actor could have better portrayed a sense of ancient malice.

In the plus column, Reanimator and Star Trek vet Jeffrey Combs is terrific as Police Detective Frank Taggert who is murdered before he can answer Cole's summons, but doesn't let a little thing like his own demise stop him from helping his friend. John Amos, best known for his participation in The Beastmaster and 70s sitcom Good Times plays a biker named Dutch. Amos is one of those actors whose presence can only improve a film and he does not disappoint here. There's also some decent zombie action, killer corn stalks, and the expression "a murder of crows" will take on a whole new meaning after you've watched this. As I said, not a classic, but an enjoyable time-killer.

1 comment:

Peter said...

Glad what little enjoyment you could salvage from it was greater than my own. Voodoo Moon drug at a pace I thought was going to cause the space time continum to fold itself into the shape of a bullet and lodge existentially in my brain forever.

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