Recent Movies

Early Review of Android Cop (2014)

REVIEW BY: Jeffrey Long

Company: The Asylum

Runtime: 86 mins

Format: Screener

Plot: In the year 2045, a Los Angeles Police Department detective and his new Android partner enter the Zone, a forbidden section of the city plagued with an unknown disease. There, they discover the source of the illness and uncover a troubling Government Conspiracy at the center.

Review: I'm still anxiously awaiting for my BluRay copy of Mega Shark vs Mecha Shark, the third movie in the infamous Mega Shark series, to arrive in the mail, however in the meantime the fine folks at Asylum sent my way a screener of another new movie of theirs to review, Android Cop, set to be released this upcoming Tuesday on February 4th.

As you might guess, Android Cop is very much Asylum's glorious return to mockbusters by riffing on the upcoming RoboCop remake. Asylum has landed themselves in plenty of legal troubles over the last couple years because of their mockbusters (The Day The Earth Stopped, Age of Hobbits aka Clash of the Empires, and American Battleship aka American Warships being the top guilty parties), and because of that it seems lately they just don't do as many mockbusters as they once did. In fact, off the top of my head, the last one I can remember them doing was the After Earth mockbuster, Apocalypse Earth, and that was almost a full year ago in just a couple more months. I love their original stuff as well, don't get me wrong, but I've always held a special place in my heart for Asylum's mockbusters. For one, it was what originally led me to them way back in the days of Snakes on a Train, H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds, and Transmorphers. Secondly, it's always fun to see just how close to the real Hollywood blockbuster it turns out and in turn which one ends up being more entertaining. So yeah, of course I was pretty excited to come home from a crappy day at work to find a screener waiting for me for Asylum's much-anticipated return to mockbusting by way of Android Cop.

Much like with Universal Soldiers, we're kind of just plucked down into the middle of the story without much backstory to go off of, which has always been an annoying story format that I hate. We have to kind of figure out the characters and their relationships with one another on our own, in addition to having to pick up on little throw-away dialog lines here and there in order to grasp just what's going on at the point in the story that we're dropped into. From what I could gather in the opening minutes, Android Cop takes place in a semi-post apocalyptic future. I say semi because we do see shots and have scenes that take place in bustling, glistening, beautiful cities of glass, however this portion of the movie takes place in the rubble and debris of a destroyed and radiation-infected Los Angeles, dubbed "The Zone" by our lead cop character as played by Mortal Kombat: Legacy, Arrow, and Spawn starer Michael Jai White. He and his partner are on some kind of mission into The Zone in search of a specific suspect that is moving among the leftover homeless people, crime lords, and mutated cannibals that reside in what's left of the city. During this mission, something malfunctions with a computer-controlled sentry gun at the border and it accidentally shoots and kills Michael Jai White's partner, thus leading to his distrust of anything computerized and mechanical that isn't fully operated by a human.

Before even the 6 minute mark he's retrieved from The Zone, only to be sent right back in with another team for backup where, once again, they're almost all taken out, this time by street gangs, until a new mysterious robotic police officer shows up, decked out in black body armor gear and a tinted helmet visor – the title character himself, the low-rent RoboCop wannabe with no personality and a strong unwavering attitude against law-breakers, Android Cop (named Andy, but honestly Android Cop sounds so much cooler, so that's what I'll be referring to him as for the review). Of course there's distrust towards him on the part of Michael Jai White's character because he simply just does not trust machines anymore, which frustrates him all the more once they reach back to the precinct in the city and he finds out that this Android Cop, the first prototype in what the higher-ups hope will be the future of Law Enforcement, is to be his new partner.

As you can probably already tell since all that makes up only the first 10 minutes or so, the movie moves at breakneck speed, starting off right in the thick of things and hardly letting you even have a moment to breath till the end. The rest of the movie plays out pretty much as you can expect, with the two of them working together on a top secret case that leads them through the underbelly of their city and out into the anarchy-ridden Zone, with Michael Jai White learning along the way to accept his robotic partner and even, eventually, trust him while the Android Cop finds his humanity, as these things tend to go in these movies, while also inadvertently uncovering a vast Government conspiracy that also involves some of the top-ranking officers in the police force and their very own Mayor.

So yeah, the movie is pretty generic, but it still manages to be a hell of a lot of fun, largely in part cause of the fast pace of it but also because it's another example of an Asylum mockbuster done right. It has tastes of what it's mockbusting (really, the whole robotic cop angle and most of the subplots dealing with that is obviously directly lifted from RoboCop, and the fact that its body is black, as is the new upcoming reboot of RoboCop's, so that isn't fooling anyone), but there's so much more to the movie that it does separate from all that - For example, there's a subplot in here where they discover that when citizens are in life-threatening accidents and are rendered unconscious, their bodies are kept on life-support while their consciousness are secretly transported into replica android bodies, but without their knowledge so they never know (a debate as to the legalities and moral issues of that also pops up), meaning there could be potentially hundreds if not thousands of sleeper Androids walking around, just ready to be activated by a corrupt person in a position to do so. Stuff like that in this movie actually reminded me quite a bit of the final few episodes of Power Rangers RPM (sorry, spoiler for those not caught up on a 5-year old TV show). Hell, there was even a plot twist in regards to that, late into the movie that I initially called earlier on, but totally forgot that I had called while the movie went on, so it still came as a surprise to me when it happened, and it was a very logical and welcomed plot twist at that.

Even the CGI effects, though there's not much with this one, which is an odd thing to say about an Asylum movie as they're usually all decked out in crappy-but-fun CGI money shots, the few we do get consist of some very well-done futuristic flying vehicles and a couple decent explosions. The rest of this movie was done with practical effects, from the Android Cop himself to the Mad Max-style spiked cars and mutant cannibalistic savages that populate The Zone. In matter of fact, while on the topic here, it's pretty safe to say that more than RoboCop gets mockbusted, as there are plenty of shades of movies and shows I've already mentioned, such as Mad Max and even Power Rangers RPM (though I'm doubtful that last one was on purpose), while I also got some vibes reminiscent of The Terminator, Nemesis, and even Lethal Weapon at times. Even if for some strange reason the movie is not keeping your interest on it's own, you should at least be able to have a fun game of 'Guess That Homage/Rip-Off' with your pals, which will keep you occupied right to the end.

The acting was also filled with lots of good stuff to entertain – Michael Jai White especially was in top form, as he always is, and was just as good here as he is in anything else. A lot of bigger named actors, when in movies such as this, tend to not really bother trying I find, but Michael Jai White, I tell ya, really seems to be a professional when it comes to these things. He also had excellent, and at times humorous, chemistry with his Android partner, which is saying something considering one of them purposely had no personality of their own. They only part of their partnership I wasn't a fan of, was the actor they got to play the Android Cop, Randy Wayne of Honey 2 and Dukes of Hazard: The Beginning fame. It's not that he was bad at it, on the contrary he played the role perfectly and put into the buddy-cop chemistry just as well as Michael Jai White did, but my issue comes down to the fact that he's just so short and scrawny, especially when standing next to Michael Jai White, that even with the thick robotic body armor on, he came across like a pipsqueak when on-screen at the same time as him, and that guy only had to bring himself to the table to look pretty threatening. There were times when criminals were sweating off their fear when face-to-face with the Android Cop and I was just left wondering... Why? If anything they should have busted a gut laughing at the visual gag that is this duo of a tall muscular man in nothing but a tight t-shirt and this short skinny guy decked out in thick body armor, yet the level of intimidation being felt by them was reversed from how it should be.

Admittedly though, he did look pretty damn cool whenever he was firing guns off, but considering this is a sci-fi action movie, I wouldn't expect anything less when it comes to the gunplay scenes (of which there are plenty). Other than that, the only times in the movie that he actually came across as looking all that badass and intimidating, was when he had his tinted-visored helmet on, something that doesn't happen very often; He's wearing it when he's first introduced and then he doesn't put it back on again until far later into the movie, however it's in a scene that is almost cheer-worthy when he finally does pick it back up and put it on, because you know he's about to kick some ass and shit is gonna get real.

In addition, Charles S. Dutton even shines nicely here as the corrupt Mayor and plays the role with such gusto that I'm sure he probably thought he was in a theatrical movie, because I can just not see such an established actor putting that much effort to good use in such a low budget B-Movie. Not that I'm complaining, mind you - I'll never, ever, complain about top-notch acting in a B-Movie.

Sure, the movie has a bit rushed and sloppy of a beginning, and the Android Cop himself may have been slightly miscast when it comes to his size and overall visual intimidation level, but there is so much other stuff to love in this movie, and so much more of it that's done surprisingly well, that it's easy to overlook those minor issues and not really be bothered by them come the time the credits roll at the end. Android Cop is more than just a good, fun, entertaining return to mockbusting for The Asylum, it's an all around good, fun, entertaining movie, period. I know that unless the word 'shark' is in the title somewhere than it seems like Asylum never does sequels anymore, but I would love to see a second movie with these characters on another case and foiling another conspiracy of some sort.

If this is the caliber of movies we can be expecting from The Asylum during 2014, than this is going to be one hellof an awesome year to be an Asylum fan.

Dead or Alive, you're coming with... oops, sorry, wrong movie.

9/10 rooms in the Psych Ward

Teenage Space Vampires/Darkness: The Teen Space Vampire Saga (1999)

REVIEW BY: Jeffrey Long

COMPANY: Full Moon Entertainment/Moonbeam Entertainment

RUNTIME: 86 mins

FORMAT: Full Moon Streaming

Bill, a dorky high school student and avid horror movie fan, witnesses a UFO flying over his town. When the ship lands the next day, Bill and a team from SETI discover that the alien is a strange vampire creature who wants to cast the Earth into darkness so that he and his people can colonize it for themselves.

REVIEW: I got anxious while waiting for Asylum's newest release, Mega Shark vs Mecha Shark, the third movie in the infamous Mega Shark series, to arrive in the mail so to help pass the time until then, I signed up for Full Moon Streaming - an online streaming service for the full catalog of Full Moon Entertainment movies, both old classics in addition to brand new stuff, and everything in between.

Now, I do plan to get back to my Puppet Master series rewatch here shortly, but I was really in the mood this evening for something I hadn't ever seen before, so I went to Full Moon's Moonbeam subsection (their side-company for 80's and 90's family friendly-aimed movies such as Prehysteria, Pet Shop, and the Josh Kirby: Time Warrior saga – none of which are actually up on the site yet, but were among my favorites of theirs while growing up) and came across a nifty-sounding little diddy that I had never even heard of before, the awesomely-titled Teenage Space Vampires, or the even cheesier (and obvious Twilight cash-grab) renaming it's been given in recent DVD re-releases, Darkness: The Teen Space Vampire Saga! I figured this would be the perfect kind of movie to watch for the first time and do a review on.

The first thing you have to realize, is that this is indeed a family-friendly 'horror' movie, so there's no swearing or gore of any kind, and there's no other kinds of questionable content in that regard, if you're a parent wondering if this movie is ok for your child to watch. With that said, there are indeed a few scenes that children might find a bit creepy or scary so you may want to watch it with them if they're sensitive to those kinds of things. For example, there's a scene that consist of the Turned football players and cheerleaders (among which are a couple of main characters) vamping out mid-game to cause a feeding frenzy and chow down on the other team and the spectators in the stands, or in one scene in particular that reminded me of The Lost Boys we have a group of teens around a campfire at night that get ambushed by a gang of the vampires. In addition to those, we also have a couple scenes that take place in dark underground mines that deal with a nest of vampires lurking in the shadows and led by the Master Vampire that looks far more monstrous than the rest of his minions, so as I said, if your child is sensitive to that kind of stuff, than maybe this isn't the movie for them after all, at least not without you watching it with them to remind them that it is just a movie.

However, in terms of the horror aspect, that's really all there is. Most of the vampire effects are extremely goofy-looking and made worse by the extremely-bad glowing CGI eyes and overly-large and overly-obvious fake rubber teeth. Honestly, everything from the special effects to some of the acting to the production values are all what you would expect from a mid-90s Direct-to-Video low budget children's movie. Actually, anybody that grew up with the Goosebumps TV show already knows what to expect from this in that regard as it pretty much plays out, complete with the all-around general cheesiness expected of such, of the average 22-minute Goosebumps episode, but spread out for feature-length.

Making the acting come across as even worse than it probably initially was, is some distractingly-bad ADR dubbing. It's not present in every scene, but the ones that it is, it really takes you out of the moment as it's delivered in such an incredibly dull and boring way, which is usually in complete contrast with how the character looks as they're saying it. That issue aside though, there is still some decent acting to be found, mostly via Robin Dunn (Species 3, The Skulls 2, Cruel Intentions 2) as the main character of the movie and the always-beautiful Lindy Booth (Wrong Turn, Dawn of the Dead remake, Kick Ass 2) as his older cheerleader sister. The one truly honest-to-god great actor though, that I actually always enjoyed when he was on-screen, was the mostly-unknown James Kee as the leader of the SETI team that comes out to investigate the mysterious going-ons in the town.

I suppose I should step back a bit and explain a little of the plot. The movie starts with a bang (literally) as Robin Dunn's character is woken up in the middle of the night by some mysterious explosion that also set off car alarms in the area and drives the dogs bonkers. Even though his character doesn't look or even really act like it during the movie, we're told he's a dweeb and dork that gets picked on a lot, which only intensifies when he comes across a spaceship in a neighbor's back property – a spaceship that is guarded by several stone gargoyles that seem to be alive (a totally pointless addition as they never even once do anything other than turn their heads to look around). Of course nobody believes him except his goofy best friend, and it isn't long until he starts noticing that his neighbors and classmates are all, one-by-one, starting to act strange and differently. That's when a research team from SETI arrives in town, having noticed the mysterious falling object and wanting to investigate it. They team up with Robin Dunn's character to get to the bottom of things and eventually discover that the town has been invaded and partly-taken over by vampires, which are actually an alien race. They're in this specific town to locate an ancient mystical amulet that when used in the proper ritual can harvest the energy from the sun and moon and plunge the entire Earth into a total never-ending darkness – a vampire's wet dream.

The plot of the movie actually isn't half-bad. At first it seemed a bit sloppily written, seeing as how we see plenty of vampires out during the day thus making the entire evil plan pointless, but they actually explain that away fairly well, as those are only vampire fledglings and aren’t yet full alien vampires, so they don't quite have all their strengths but also don't quite have all their weaknesses yet either. Where the movie kind of comes undone is the above-mentioned bad effects, terrible ADR dubbing, the unbelievability that the main character is a picked-on dweeb (seriously, the guy is taller and more buff than half the 'jocks' in the movie are) and just all around general cheap feel of everything (again, think a feature-length Goosebumps episode on the same budget of the average Goosebumps episode). Luckily the movie is saved a bit by decent to good acting from the core main characters (even if a lot of the dialog they have to work with is pretty terrible), a well-made monster suit for the Master Vampire, and a pretty fun overall plot. It also seems that director/writer Martin Wood has perfected his talents since his time doing this movie, seeing as how he has since gone on to be a main writer and director on such Canadian TV shows as Sanctuary, Andromeda, Primeval: New World, and the various Stargate shows.

Die-hard horror hounds and just adults in general may scoff at this one and roll their eyes during most of it, and I honestly can't blame them because there's not much in this one for that demographic, but for young boys and girls looking to dabble into some family-friendly horror, Teenage Space Vampires, aka Darkness: The Teen Space Vampire Saga is a pretty decent hour and a half, and it's low budget and cheesiness may also help lighten the mood for them a bit when it comes to the few darker, scarier scenes that some kids may find a little troubling.

5/10 rooms in the Psych Ward

The Prophecy II (1998)

REVIEW BY: Jeffrey Long

Company: Overseas FilmGroup

Runtime: 83 mins

Format: BluRay

Plot: Arch Angel Gabriel returns to try to destroy the future hope for the human race he despises so much, with the help of a suicidal teen girl and the opposition of the angel Danyael.

Review: There's just something about religious thrillers that I love. I'm not particularly a very religious person, but I love all that mythology that we hear about while growing up, and its for that reason that, a few issues aside, I really loved the first Prophecy movie (Or God's Army, depending on where you live in the world). That first one was theatrical and all following entries (and there are quite a nice handful of them) were Direct-to-Video, so that probably means they can't stack up to it, right?

Well you could kind of say that I suppose, but then you would be wrong. In The Prophecy II (sometimes found with the subtitle Ashtown and sometimes not), Lucifer spits disgraced Arch Angel Gabriel (as played to perfection by Christopher Walken returning to the role, not scared by the lower budget) out of Hell for reasons that are never really touched upon other than “Not even Hell will have you.”, and the fallen angel resumes his War on Heaven, where he left off in the previous movie. This time, he's after a woman pregnant with a Nephilim, which is a baby born of both human and Angel, as it has been foretold in a new Prophecy made by Elias Koteas' character from the first movie (but played by a different actor here, and back being a monk again) that a Nephilim will end the Second War in Heaven and return peace to the Universe. However, the woman is being aided by the Warrior Angel Danyael, who was the one that actually impregnated her.

Initially I never liked this Terminator-wannabe of an entry nearly as much as I did the first movie, but over the years and upon several re-watches it really grew on me to the point where I actually now enjoy it a bit more, but just by a sliver.

With the first movie I couldn't really argue with anyone that felt it was very slow-moving and boring, however The Prophecy 2 is a much more action-packed and fast-paced entry, as this one is essentially just one long movie-length chase scene. As mentioned, this is the 'Terminator' entry in the series, what with Gabriel chasing a mild-mannered woman through the city during the night in order to kill her before she gives birth to mankind's savior, and the entire movie is pretty much 'run, hide, get found by the methodical bad guy, run, hide, get found by the methodical bad guy, and just keep repeating'. I know that doesn't sound very interesting, and the repetitiveness of it was one of the reasons that I didn't like it very much my first time watching it, but over time and during the course of several re-watches, I grew to appreciate the faster pace of the 'cat-and-mouse' plot because, as repetitive as it gets, there's at least always something exciting happening and the movie never gets dull, making it easier to digest for the average person than the slower-paced first movie probably is.

It also helps, at least for me, that despite the faster pace it still manages to expand upon the excellent world-building mythology that I loved so much in the first movie and couldn't say enough good things about in my review for that one. The strongest point of the entire Prophecy movie series, to me, is the excellent world-building background mythology that keeps getting fed to us in each movie. So much so in fact, that I'm still picking up on missed morsels of it in dialog here and there each movie, even after umpteen rewatches, that just keeps adding to the experience for me and gives me something new each time I watch them. Even after five movies, I feel the potential of this series has only just begun to be tapped and this is a movie universe I would love to keep getting more sequels for, so I can spend more time exploring it.

The characters that populate this movie also keep it interesting and, if anything, I think I actually like more than the characters in the first movie. Once again everyone acts their part perfectly, but this time Christopher Walken, while just as badass as ever, is matched in terms of acting by some of the other actors, who mostly all turn in better performances than you would expect to find in a Direct-to-Video sequel. Jennifer Beals plays the main female lead and while she was pretty bland and forgettable at the start of the movie, once the action really starts getting going and she gets into the thick of the Terminator-esque plot, that's when she really starts to shine, with my favorite moments of her being when she goes head to head against Christopher Walken's Gabriel himself, as those two played off of one another so well. Also, a young Brittney Murphy did an excellent and very enjoyable job for one of her first starring roles, taking on the role of Gabriel's undead slave that he brings back to life after she tries to commit suicide with her boyfriend, as he still yet can't comprehend human technology, nor how to drive a vehicle and needs her assistance, culminating in some pretty hilarious moments. Even Eric Roberts pops up in the second half of the movie as the fellow-famed Arch Angel, Michael – you know, the one that ultimately beat back Lucifer and sent him down to Hell during the first War? Now he's in charge of looking after the supposed-safe haven of the infamous 'Garden' of Eden, which has since gotten a modern-day industrial makeover, and he plays the role in such a way that you're not quite sure if he can be trusted or not, and it leads to one of my favorite and more suspenseful sequences in the entire movie.

This entry is also much darker then the first movie was, both in tone as well as the filming style. Where that one took place primarily during day scenes, this one takes place entirely over the course of one night, and even though in the end when the good guys win, we as viewers (in addition to the characters themselves) are still left with a sense of foreboding doom to come, and ends things off on a bit of a bleak cliffhanger that won't be resolved until the third movie (and final movie for this specific story arc, as The Prophecy 4 and 5 deal with entirely all-new characters and an entirely all-new story). I also still really love the portrayal of the Angels in these movies. For those familiar with the hit TV show Supernatural, they are almost identical to that of how they are portrayed in that show, which is one of the reasons I love them on Supernatural (especially in Season 4 when they were first introduced, it was essentially a season-long crossover between Supernatural and The Prophecy, however now in Season 9 I'm feeling they're dragging the bottom of that well a bit, but I suppose all of that is for a different type of review).

My only big complaint is that with the runtime so short and the movie so fast-paced, it zoomed by and was over before I really had time to process most of what I had just watched, which means it definitely requires multiple viewings to pick everything up, especially where that excellent world-building dialogue is concerned. An extra 10-15 minutes would have been nice to break up the frequency, in addition to the repetitiveness, of the chase scenes and perhaps that time could have been used to give the human characters a tad bit more solid characterization; While the Angels and the whole concept of the various wars in Heaven were all given more-than-satisfactory backstories and characterizations, the human characters were left in the dust a little bit and felt a tad underdeveloped.

While The Prophecy II still has a few faults of it's own, despite my initial gut reaction the very first time I watched it, I actually now feel it's an even stronger and more enjoyable movie than the first Prophecy flick, if only slightly, which is saying quite a bit considering that one went to Theaters and this one was Direct-to-Video. A faster pace, better characters, further world-building, and yet another excellent portrayal of the main villain by Christopher Walken all make this a very worthy sequel in the Prophecy series.

After tying up a couple loose ends from the first movie that promises to make the next entry different from anything that's come in these first two installments, and ending things off on a sort of cliffhanger-style note of forebodingness to come, I really can't see how anyone that enjoyed these first two movies wouldn't be excited to see how the conclusion to this first story arc will play out in The Prophecy 3: The Ascent.

8/10 rooms in the Psych Ward

Rituals/The Creeper (1977)

REVIEW BY: Jeffrey Long

Company: Astral Bellevue Pathé

Runtime: 89 mins

Format: DVD

Plot: Five doctors that are long-time friends go on vacation deep in the Canadian wilderness. After all but one pair of the party's shoes disappear over night, the remaining shoed camper decides to hike out and go look for help. Soon after he leaves, his remaining companions realize that something is very wrong when a decapitated deer head is left just outside their camp. Even though they still don't have their shoes, they decide to follow their friend's trail out of the woods, but their path is blocked by someone who doesn't want to see them leave the forest alive

Rituals, or rather The Creeper as it's called on the various Mill Creek multi-DVD sets (and also the more actuate title, IMO) is a classic stereotypical lost-in-the-wilderness backwoods horror movie in the vein of Deliverance and all the many movies have since borrowed from that, such as the Wrong Turn series among many, many others. What's special about this one however, is that it came beforeall those other ones, minus Deliverance, so while a lot of what this movie does has since gone on to become typical backwoods horror movie tropes, it was actually fresh and new at the time this movie initially came out in 1977. And, for reasons I'll get to below, I actually felt was stronger than all those, including Deliverance.

To begin with, the killer (or killers, it hints at both during the movie and I won't say which it actually is, but for the sake of the review I'll just refer to it as a singular) is wisely kept off-screen for most of the movie. We stick with the main core group of characters during the entire movie and the director only ever lets us see what the characters themselves see and discover only what the characters discover for themselves, never taking us away from them to give us information they don't have or bringing out some random third-act new character to unrealistically deliver exposition and explanations and then leave again. For the sake of the movie, we as viewers are essentially treated as fellow people in this group of friends and we never leave them. Because of this, I feel it adds a whole new layer of tension as it really makes it easier to put ourselves in the mindset of the main characters. We don't ever actually get a solid look at the killer, nor what his reasoning behind hunting these people down is, until toward the very end, leaving it entirely up to our imaginations during the bulk of the movie as to the who and the why.

Alongside the killer himself, the characters also have to deal with surviving the regular dangers of being lost out in the wild in the middle of nowhere, such as getting past raging water rapids, down steep dangerous cliffs, run away from angry disturbed killer bee hives, and careful not to disturb other hungry animals that may be in the vicinity, in addition to battling starvation and dehydration after all their food supplies get ruined. Even if you were to take out the murderous assailant that is hunting and terrorizing them you would still be left with a pretty gripping wilderness survival movie.

Of course the movie wouldn't really be worth a damn if you couldn't stand spending the length of the movie with it's characters, and luckily the movie did great there as well. There's really good chemistry between the cast, even when the characters themselves aren’t always getting along, and they really did come across like very long-time best friends on a weekend camping trip that may harbor the odd negative feeling toward one another here and there, some pent up frustrations if you will, but at the end of the day are still best buds regardless. They were also written in such a way so that the movie really made you unsure as to who, if anyone, would be the sole survivor, choosing not to make any one specific person stand out above the rest, and giving you reasons to care for each character equally. Because of this, it really was genuinely shocking, and even sad at times, whenever anyone got killed off. One of the more unsettling and heartbreaking scenes deals with one of the main characters being discovered hung from a tree, burning to death, while he pleads for help but none of the others are willing to risk getting killed themselves to help him, despite supposedly being best friends.

And yes, there was plenty of death. I won't say how many people actually survive the movie, but I will say that horror fans will not be disappointed here. From being burned alive, to decapitations, to any number of inventive traps set along the way, there's certainly a good number of kill scenes. What is disappointing however, is that while the movie is uncut in any of the rare releases under it's original title of Rituals, it is very much heavily edited for gore under the much-more common title The Creeper, which is the version I saw, so most of the death scenes ended up being very badly chopped up and edited.

Unfortunately, the video quality on the specific release of the move that I saw (Mill Creek's Drive-In Classics 50-pack) was incredibly bad, to the point that any scene that took place at night or in the dark (and trust me, there are a lot of them) were near-impossible to pick out what exactly was happening in them. This was most troubling during the ending of the movie as it made the entire climax pretty much unwatchable and I still don't quite know what went on during that scene. Sadly, other than the very rare and near-impossible to find release of this movie under the Rituals title, this heavily-edited and incredibly-poor video quality release under The Creeper title is probably the only one you'll be able to easily get your hands on.

Rituals, aka The Creeper had the perfect mix of character and heart, suspense and horror, nature survivalism, and beautiful Canadian scenery, all wrapped up in one movie. It actually surprises me that this movie is mostly an unknown one, because I feel it's the strongest in this sub-genre and deserves way more recognition than it has, especially when it comes to matters such as DVD transfers and releases. The only thing that really bogs this down in any bit is, indeed, the terrible low-quality transfer that makes entire portions of the movie, including the most important portion (that being the climax) pretty much unwatchable and the distractingly terrible editing when it comes to the scenes with gore. If you can get through those things though, there is quite a nice little hidden gem of a survival horror movie waiting for you that will definitely stick with you long after watching it.

9/10 rooms in the Psych Ward 

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