Beyond the Wall of Sleep (2006)

Directed by Thom Maurer & Barrett Klausman
Written by Thom Maurer & Barrett J Leigh
Based on a story by H.P. Lovecraft
Starring William Sanderson, Fountain Yount, Kurt Hargan, Rachel Mellondorf, Rick Dial, Marco St. John, & Tom Savini

First of all, I was raised to believe H.P. Lovecraft’s stories were scary. Some of the elements could have been disturbing if the main actors weren’t made of wood, with all the affectation and believability of the maple tree down the street from my house.

When certain revelations were, uh, revealed, instead of making me say, “Wow! What will happen next?” I mostly looked at the clock and said, “Wow! Can’t they wrap this crap up already?”

The whole back and white film noir thing interspersed with time lapsed, MTV-style Nine Inch Nails videos for “horror effect” really fell flat. I kept thinking I was watching Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein, except without the cast, humor, and acting talent. And Mel Brooks’ special effects were mostly better besides.

Coolness: There is a big creature from another dimension surrounded by severed heads. I guess that’s sorta cool.
Dorkness: The entire story hinges on the stereotypes of inbred Appalachian backwoods families being more sinister than they really are. Trust me. I know a thing or two about this.
Bottom line: Take two ambien and call me in the morning.

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Electric Zombies

Written by Richard Novosak and John Specht
Directed by John Specht

Starring: Trust me, who gives a crap?

I assume the team had to use electricity to tape this film, so at least half of the title holds water. But they didn’t see the need to use real microphones, or decent music, or convincing actors, or (apparently) a script. There was a lot of fading to black (probably using the Sony HandiCam built-in Fade To Black tool), and a lot of talking cell phones, which apparently had something to do with the strange behavior of the characters. If I could have picked out the dialogue from the background noise, I might have been able to tell for sure.

Perhaps the “Zombie” half of the title refers to any poor soul who sat attentively through the entire film. “Patient In A Coma” might also suffice.

Coolness: Because I have NetFlix, the coolest part of this film was RETURNING it. Oy!
Dorkness: So far off the scale, it hurts my liver.
Bottom line: Break out your own Sony Camcorder and an hour and a half worth of tape, and you too can be in the industry…of CRAP.

Headhunter

Written & Directed by Paul Tarantino
Starring Mark Aiken and Kristi Clainos

Imagine, if you will, a horror movie made just for Lifetime. You know, the cable channel for women. The main character hates his job and is emotionally detaching himself from his girlfriend. He is referred to a female headhunter who lands him a better-paying piece-of-cake job, but it’s working the graveyard shift, which further takes him away from his girlfriend. She, of course, suspects there’s another woman. Well, there is, but when the other woman is undead, does that really count? On Lifetime, it does.

And rather than telling one complete, growing, terrifying story, the film is edited into little bite-sized morsels that fade to black without really needing to, except to maybe give the audience a chance to discuss their feelings and/or spoon.

The biggest horror is the laughable makeup effects. I think they had some leftover rubber masks left over from Halloween at the local drugstore, on which the visual effects are based.

This is not to say it’s all bad. The film’s idea is cool, and the acting isn’t as bad as, say, a high school production of Annie. Besides, one of the driving scenes takes place on Mulholland Drive in the Santa Monica mountains above Malibu. I guess that’s only cool because I know where that is. Never mind.

Coolness: there is nakedness.
Dorkness: it’s still a Lifetime-style movie, only with nakedness. And cursing.
Bottom line: At the time, I didn’t feel like Tarantino stole an hour and a half of my life that I’ll never get back, but now that I think about it (or reflect on my feelings from the evening), he did steal an hour and a half of my life that I’ll never get back. SOB!