Thursday, February 23, 2012

Hatchet for the Honeymoon - Il Rosso Segno Della Follia (1970)

May contain spoilers

I went with another Bava film for the second of Italian Horror reviews because I've been wanting to watch this for a while. Also while I don't care for the holiday February, among other things, is the month of love and I thought what no better than a bride murderer to bring in the spirit of Valentines Day?

John Harrington is a wedding dress designer by day and moonlights as a serial killer of newly brides by night, and on occasion he'll kill their grooms as well. By each murder John is able to unveil a bit more of the mystery of his mother's murder, which he's blacked out for the most part and likely awoke the demon inside him. Though John is able to cure his urges with killing he struggles with another complication in his life, his wife Mildred. Mildred is a co-owner of the shop and refuses to give John a divorce, despite that she equally hates him. At the edge of his sanity John kills his wife in an attempt to put an end to her nagging. But Mildred will not leave so easily and starts to haunt John long after the murder. Even more intriguing is one of his new bridal gown models, who's been showing an interest in John. But with Mildred hanging around like a bad smell and the police zeroing in on the murders of the young brides his life is becoming more entangled in insanity than he could ever imagine.

John Harrington has very much a pre Patrick Bateman in his self-aware ritualistic murder. His monologue is not unlike Bateman's and the sexual kick he gets from killing virginal brides downed in the wedding dresses he makes, which also draws a reference from Norman Bates with the possible titillating fixation on his mother. I may be making Hatchet for the Honeymoon sound more in depth than it is, while Harrington is disturbed and the original title The Red Sign of Madness (Italian) proves more fitting the film wasn't as breaching as I had hoped. Not to attest that nothing holds interesting as the eloquent yet galling murder of one of the brides in the secret showroom is fantastic, at the least. Also as Santiago Moncada's script starts to ring a common tune of a theme murder he throws in a unique spin with the supernatural haunting of Harrington's wife. Which not only in itself turns on the Italian horror film but also the basic structure of the ghost story, meaning that I liked how everyone was able to see Mrs. Harrington but John himself. Unique and different for sure.

Stephen Forsyth is Harrington, and he's alright as far as acting goes but at surface value there's something about his dreamy, basically suave appearance that creates the insanity to his character. Maybe it's because you expect him more to play the James Bond type than the ravaging murder type. The rest of the cast is all lifeless as far as character development goes, with the exception of Laura Betti as Mildred. It's hard at times to judge an actor when the entire film is dubbed in a voice that doesn't fit the actor. As I felt with Betti, she's probably very good in the original Italian version but the voice in the English is 'off' and distracts her facial expressions. Of course Bava paints the film in a red cinematatic scope but a little flat actually next to his black and white masterpiece Black Sunday. Odd. Still lovely to look at, the makeup and costume design to the ghost wife in particular is capturing picture.

After that picture I'm fairly confident that Mary Harron drew inspiration in this film for American Psycho. I wonder if Bret Easton Ellis drew any inspiration from it though? This review feels a bit pretentious from my end, I apologize, but I'm only saying how I feel. I've noted all good qualities as the film is good but it still felt a bit average to me. Not really gory to compete with my favorites but not a bad watch. Bava is able to effectively capture the maddening sense of blurred reality and sure I'll say it, surrealism in John's actions and desires. But it's still just okay, and I have no idea why. As others I wouldn't recommend for those just becoming introduced to Bava, but rather as an average watch for a casual [horror] movie night.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Press Release: The Prospector's Curse

As usual I'm posting this late but I was again surprised when I got a press release, and not from Skip. When I asked, after of course agreeing, I got this as a response: " I've been scouring the internet for every legitimate looking horror blog".  If I get 1000 followers I still doubt that I'll ever get use to that. Director/writer Josh Heisie offered to let me view upon completion which means another Horror Short for all of you. 

The Prospector’s Curse

February 19, 2012
A western-themed horror film entitled “The Prospector’s Curse” has wrapped production near the remote town of Ponty Pool, Ontario.  Set during the Klondike Gold Rush of the 1890’s, the darkly comedic short is Written and Directed by Josh Heisie (‘Mail Order Bride’), Produced by Bruno Marino (‘Anything Goes’) and is currently in Post Production in Toronto, Canada.
The talent lineup for “The Prospector’s Curse” includes David Roberts (‘Curious and Unusual Deaths’), Johnny Quinn (‘Mind’s Eye: The Series’), Amanda Ives (‘I Hate Toronto: A Love Story’) and Robert Nolan (‘Worm’).
Rounding out the creative team are Director of Photography Michael Jari Davidson (‘SICK’), and Special Effects Makeup Artist Carlos Henriques (‘Red: Werewolf Hunter’) of The Butcher Shop.
There’s blood in them there hills!

The vengeful corpse of an old prospector haunts two gold thieves as they struggle for salvation.

Theodore “Tubby” Ellsworth and Jack smith are two criminals on the run, lost in the untamed wilderness.  When they stumble across a mutilated Prospector, dying on Indian ground, they promise to give him a Christian burial.  The fugitives break their oath and steal the old man’s gold…but that night, the Prospector’s corpse returns to make them pay!

Related Web Pages

Josh Heisie                             
Bruno Marino                        
Michael Jari Davidson           
Carlos Henriques                   
Dave Roberts                        
Johnny Quinn                        
Robert Nolan                        
Amanda Ives                         

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Press Release: "Longreach" Sneak Peek Ready for Horror Fandom

Another press release. If Skip keeps sending me these people are going to start mistaking me for a legit writer.

“Longreach” Sneak Peek Ready for Horror Fandom

MASSACHUSETTS (Feb. 18, 2012) –On the heels of critical acclaim and success of its Rondo Hatton Award nominated cult hit “Microcinema,” Harvest tide Productions today released a sneak peek of its upcoming horror web series “Longreach,” now in pre-production as it secures funding. 

“‘Longreach’ is about a righteous society,” said writer-director William DeCoff. “Minus the behaviors of righteous men. We at Harvest Tide are very excited to bring horror fans quality web entertainment for a real thrill and a great value.”

The “Longreach” storyline follows the demise of widower Daniel Jedrek, the sergeant at arms for the New England chapter of the Longreach Association. Located on a small island off the coast of Massachusetts, it is the oldest chapter of the nefarious organization in North America. Longreach is ancient and worldwide—and extremely wealthy and charitable. Its members also eliminate society's undesirables by questionable means. In this story, Jedrek has been ordered to capture and deliver innocent people as prey to twisted Dawn Aiden, the wife of Reverend Aiden who is one of the leaders of the New England chapter. As he struggles with his conscience, Jedrek begins to slip further and further from reality while Reverend Aiden begins grooming Jedrek's 10-year-old son Sam to take his place under the suspicious eye of Jedrek's daughter Alecia.

The “Longreach” sneak peek stars Sarah Nicklin as Alecia Jedrek; William DeCoff as Daniel Jedrek; Emily King as Dawn Aiden: Skip Shea as Reverend Aiden; and Timmy DeCoff as Sam Jedrek; and features Jessica Sonneborn, Jenny Chen, Kachina Dechert and Peter Barbaro.

Harvest Tide Productions, founded by Skip Shea, William DeCoff, William Smyth and Emily King, produces and distributes quality entertainment content for targeted niche audiences and other ancillary products.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Women In Horror: Scream Queens Part II

February is an odd month; it doesn't follow the basic calender system, it gets an extra day every four years; a groundhog has his day; it celebrates African Americans, women, and throws in the most pointless holiday of the year, Valentines Day. BLEH. Not that all these things are bad by any means, it's simply that they have nothing in common but the month of February. It is Women in Horror Month however, in relevance to this blog. Few people are still uncertain of my gender but I am a woman, who loves horror so it all works out.

I'm not really sure what to do for Women in Horror month, I do know I'll be posting randomly throughout the month, on Follow Friday no less, but in specific I cannot say. Regardless thereof I thought I'd address a few not forgotten Scream Queens on my top five list last October. It's not so much as I didn't consider them Scream Queens it's just that they slipped my mind.

Rose McGowan (Scream, Planet Terror, Charmed)

I'm a tad bit disappointed in myself for missing Rose McGowan on my Honorable mentions list. I love Scream and Planet Terror and as to how I managed to forget Robert Rodriguez's zombie film staring a one-legged-gun Rose McGowan is quite disturbing and disappointing. Regardless how can you not love her? She's beautiful, funny, and she plays the throwaway friend and the final girl, rare for most Scream Queens as they are usually typecast as either or. McGowan also has a long running stance on the TV show Charmed, which really isn't quite horror but like Ghost Whisper it has its moments.

Ingrid Pitt (The Vampire Lovers, The Wicker Man)

I'm not entirely familiar with Ingrid Pitt, besides knowing that she played in the Carmilla adaption The Vampire Lovers and segarded a legacy as a Gothic horror icon as seductive vampire Marcilla and as Countess Dracula. Hammer Horror actress Pitt survived the Holocaust in a Nazi concentration camp to go on to become one of the most gorgeous and voluptuous horror actresses of all time. Ashely Greene has nothing on her.

Barbara Steele (Black Sunday, Dark Shadows Revival, Nightmare Castle)

I'll admit back in October I was ignorant to Barbara Steele as a Scream Queen, having not seen Black Sunday until as of recently. But it's easy to say those wide eyes of hers have locked me into addiction as I'm not now seeking out her films, especially those with collaboration from Bava. Steele is stunning and admirably a great actress, playing the innocence and the evil so well. Captivating beauty she's the Italian Horror Scream Queen.

Honorable Mentions: I feel that Daria Nicolodi is also unregarded as a Scream Queen. Maybe not the final girl so much but in recognition shes in a good portion of Argento films including, Opera, Phenomena, and his essential giallo Deep Red, as well as Bava's Shock. Maybe not a Scream Queen so much as just a honorable woman in horror.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Blue Velvet (1986)

Jeffrey Beaumont has returned to his small suburbia home town to help out with his ill father. When he's walking home from the hospital one day he comes across a severed ear in a field. Being the proper raised college boy that Jeffrey is he takes the ear to the police in search of answers. But when the police reply with ambiguity and he realizes that they've been quiet about all they know he seeks out answers for himself. His romantic in the police chief's daughter Sandy leads him to Dorothoy Vallens apartment, a lounge singer who's dark secrets take Jeffrey on an erotic and dangerous journey to a man named Frank Boothe. However, Jefferey doesn't realize that he's no longer in his safe suburbia and has entered Frank's world, a dark place rooted with childhood trauma and wielded by a man with a short temper.

A arch in the psycho-sexual thriller from the preeminent director of the bizarre. Blue Velvet sets you off balance from the opening sequence of bright red roses against a white picket fence and ocean blue suburban sky as the cadences of "Blue Velvet" linger in the background. The uncanny temper is at play in the film's script, acting, and optics as there's nothing quite right in a David Lynch film, and the term Lynchian creates a genre of it's own. This is my first Lynch film to be quite honest, I'm familiar with the term Lynchian and know of Eraserhead and his series Twin Peaks (both on my list to watch), but this is the only actual exposure I've had. That being said I get it, he precede's logic and perceives the abnormal, but in ingenious way that it doesn't really qualify among other scripts that are driven by the macabre. The score to Blue Velvet is for, lack of a better phrase, the cherry on top of a deeply disturbed film. I could of done without the love music to Sandy and Jeffery's characters but the off-set rhythm to the score when Jeffrey leaves Dorothoy's apartment and of course the haunting flow of the title song "Blue Velvet" tightens an already tense halo.

I don't care to think in absolutes as I believe that limits how I percieve things but if you're not bothered or intrigued by Dennis Hopper's performance you have no taste in acting, and are likely a sociopath. Hopper takes a risk and plays Frank Booth with an over the top performance but in that it feels so real, your under the belief that this man is undoubtfully delusional. There's a tinted hilarity in the portrayl as well which adds to the more unsettling nature of it. Kyle MacLachlan is awful, I'm sorry but his performance did not seem sublte, often he was stiff and monotonic as well as a little troubling, and not in a good way. He upset me with his leering stare and soft voice, maybe if he was playing a child molestor this would have been a good acting exploit but he's suppose to be the unsought out college hero. Isabella Rossalini is almost as delusional as Hopper in the lost sanity of Dorothy, you see the victim but also the disturbed woman that's taking over, as well as other layers. Complex photography intertwines with the plot to create a very delude sense of reality. The apartment scene is disquieting in it's unimaginable play out. Lynch takes the script and the viewer to a place absent of safety.

Execution in surrealism is hard and often falls to the absurd and unrealistic. Lynch knows surrealism likely better than he knows reality. Blue Velvet is weird but rhythmically strung with tension and moments to make you feel lost, as Dean Stockwell's lip syncing of In Dreams pulls you from the film. I was also a bit lost as to where to place this film, I almost wanted to say giallo but ill-fitting as even though Jeffrey goes about his own investigation there not enough blood or close ups of murder. Then I possibly thought Suburban Gothic but PissedOffGeek on twitter rebut that with his insightful depiction that though Jeffrey lives in Suburbia there's never any danger there, it's all in the urban constants of the apartment where the real horror occurs. Therefore all I can conclude is that the film doesn't fall under any category as it is a class of its own, hence Lynchian. Blue Velvet is an important cinematic piece that should be seen by not only horror lovers but film addicts as well. I was captivated and seduced by Lynch's use of medium and therefore loved it. It's unlike any viewing experience and commands that attention of being unique. Not everyone will like it per say but everyone needs to see it. 

Monday, February 13, 2012

Press Release: Indie Horror Short "Microcinema" Nominated for a 2012 Rondo Award


Indie Horror Short “Microcinema” Nominated for a 2012 Rondo Award

MASSACHUSETTS (Feb. 13, 2012) – Massachusetts-based Harvest Tide Productions first online and internationally self-distributed horror short independent film “Microcinema,”  written and directed by Harvest Tide Productions co-founder Skip Shea, is nominated for the 2012 Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Award ( The fan-based Rondo Awards, created in 2002 by David Colton and Kerry Gammill, recognize outstanding achievements in the horror entertainment genre.

“Harvest Tide and the cast and crew of “Microcinema” are very honored and excited to be nominated for a Rondo,” said Shea. “It represents the voice of the fans and this is an important acknowledgement of our work. We stand among some of the great creators and producers of horror entertainment, media and content throughout the industry.”

Starring Alex Lewis and Aurora Grabill, “Microcinema” is the story of Peter Martell, a highly educated well-to-do young man with too much free time on his hands. He spends it watching snuff films. One day he makes the bold decision to cross the line from observer to participant, aspiring to bring a philosophical element to his own kind of snuff films. Ready to go to work, he tracks his first victim into a haunted New England wood, where the boundary between participant and observer takes a different turn.

In 2011, “Microcinema” scored on several best-of lists and gained momentum as a cult favorite and a hit with horror reviewers. Chris Conduit of The Conduit Speaks, put "Microcinema" as the best horror short of the year giving it his Conduit Award.

Danielle Holman writing for Truly Disturbing Horror, listed "Microcinema" as one of the five best horror films saying, "Skip Shea’s seven-minute short film is deserving in the ranks of the big films as it’s able to accomplish more in less than ten minutes than an hour and a half feature length film." In her Bleeding Dead, she has called “Microcinema” "…one of the most important horror films of our time."

“Microcinema” wowed critics and audiences last year at several horror film festivals and screenings within the few short months of its release. Screenings in 2011 included the 1st Annual Danish Horror Film Festival: THE TURBINE at Spinderihallerne, Vejle, Denmark; All Things Horror Shudder Fest at the Somerville Theater in Somerville, MA; Short Horror Films at AS220 in Providence, RI; the Massachusetts Independent Film Festival; and before Canadian horror film fans at Fright Night Theater presents: ABSENTIA & Microcinema at the Staircase Cafe Theater in Hamilton, Ontario.

“Microcinema” was originally a storyline for one of the episodes of Harvest Tide’s new horror web series “Longreach,” written by William DeCoff. “Longreach” follows the demise of Daniel Jedrek, the sergeant at arms for the Longreach Association, an ancient global charitable organization that takes charity to extremes. The Harvest Tide production team – Shea, DeCoff, Will Smyth and Emily King – agreed that “Microcinema” stood on its own in the burgeoning new online entertainment and media arena and delivers a brutal and gruesome tale to horror film fans. 

"Microcinema” is now available on the film’s website for under .99 cents. “The best horror for under a dollar.”

“Microcinema” writer/director Skip Shea has produced, written and directed six short films:  “Mail;” “Video Diary: Last Entry;” “They Serve Breakfast Here All Day Long;” “Putting On Its Shoes;” “Nostalgia;” and “Choices.”  “Mail” was selected for the invitation-only 11th annual Pawtucket Film Festival. Shea’s work took the runner-up award in the comedy short screenplay competition for his script “The Bar” at the 19th Annual Woods Hole Film Festival. The film is in pre-production. He also produced, wrote and performed the very successful one-man theatrical show called “Catholic (Surviving Abuse & Other Dead End Roads)” which debuted in New York City in 2005. The show went on to have a successful run at the Jimmy Tingle's Off Broadway Theater and toured the East Coast. Shea is also a published poet whose piece “Songs of Mourning,” a memorial to those killed in the September 11 attacks in New York as well as to his daughter Shawna Shea, was selected by New York City jazz musician Jon Faddis to be performed at the 9/11 10th Anniversary Commemorative Concert performed at Symphony Space by the New York Chamber Music Festival.


What the critics are saying about “Microcinema” 

"The film is brave and unrelenting. It is a breath of fresh air to a lot of the common horror tricks that are being trotted out time and again." -Alexandra West, Scare Tactics Blog.

"Skip Shea is an adept director with equal ability to write, his short film gets more across than most full length films.  4 out of 5 Stars" - The Bleeding Dead Film Reviews. 

"You will not be expecting to see the events that unfold in this shocking short film." - The Horror Spot

"The script itself deserves kudos for completely drawing your attention to the one aspect we would expect every horror film to contain and then suddenly shocks you with an element you rarely see in this genre."  The Scariest Movies Online 

"I figured I was in for one of three things:  a really solid work, a bite size film that left me feeling nothing, or one of those that makes me want to substitute rat poison for the salt on my dinner table.  Those are the three categories all art falls into for me, always.  Yet, when it was all said and done, Shea's vignette carved a whole new icky slot out just for itself. 9 out of 10 Stars" - The Conduit Speaks

"Brilliant. 8.5 out of 10 Stars" - The Gruesome Hurtzogg Horror Movie Review Podcast.

"4 out of 5 Stars" Char Hardin 

"What I find particularly interesting about Microcinema is its plot and how it seems to blend together torture, voyeurism, and a lot of other really weird horrific topics like snuff films." - Horror Society 

"Microcinema Doesn't Disappoint" - Victor Infante, The Worcester Telergram & Gazette

"The new indie horror romp Microcinema and it is a doozy." - Truly Disturbing Horror

"Interesting short that starts as your usual slasher/serial killer fare before taking a wicked little turn." Shaun Sjolin Cenobiteme Blog

"Unicornsblud Horror Review Stamp of Majestic Approval"  Unicronsblud's Horror Reviews

“Twisted and sick but with a new vision.” - The Dr. Chris Radio of Horror

Skip is far to nice to me, he lets me in on all the Microcinema updates as well as quoted me in several press releases. I've said so many things about the film in the past that its hard to quite sum them up, but basically they all amount to it's creator. I'll likely say it till the day I die but please watch Microcinema, it needs to be seen. 

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Horror Short: Waffle (2010)

Written and directed by Rafael De Leon Jr
Staring Kathryn Neville Browne, Kerri Ford and Andrea Shannon Young
Director of Photography Anthony DeRose

There's something a little off about Wendy, and it becomes apparent when her classmate and new friend Dana comes over to Wendy's house for dinner one night; her mother foul and overbearing and Wendy seemingly a psychopath. However not all madness is unprovoked and when the true nature of Dana's visit is revealed at dessert a horror of its own comes to life. I'm aware that the film only runs a few minutes in length but the plot seemed very one note, the characters not really, but as to why the reason Dana was at Wendy's house could of been adjusted to something a little bit more engaging or maybe something horrifying. Again the aim is to 'shock' the audiences, and it does, but a little forthcoming because you know there's something not right with Wendy. The concept is how at surface value and within a person there are truer more darker natures but it really just felt a bit bland for me.

I attest that the obtuse execution laid in the writing by De Leon Jr, who was fair as a director but tried a little too hard to create a disturbing use of dialogue. Acting also contributed to the dull script, a good portion of it being overacted, especially by Browne who played Wendy's mother. Even in the cover art the photography for Waffle is what I like the best, a very dark contrast of colors paired with this distorted strawberry pink creates a very nice visual piece of lighting to look at. Also by keeping the camera off Wendy's face for the majority of the film proved effective when a direct shot of her face is revealed, taking you back at the very least. Waffle isn't a horrible film by any means, nothing like Bunny Boy, but overall I found it to be a little dull and fairly mediocre. Not a waste of five minutes but not a need-to-see short film either.

You may follow the film on its blogspot and watch out for its appearances at film festivals around the world. 

As a side note I'm running a little short on short films so if you have one you'd like me to review please email me at, or contact me by my twitter.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

TDHorror Retro Review

"The casual use of internet in this is almost staggering, as Gage takes almost a very ‘eighties’ approach and goes looking at the weird piercing club before checking his daughter’s last internet use. If this was set in current times that computer would be the first thing torn apart in looking for Genevieve. In that it likely proves the most horrifying as Captain Howdy’s torture chamber does hold a few aversions in his approach but nothing in light of how easily she is lured to his house."

The rest of the review is here. Hope you like. 

Thursday, February 9, 2012

After.Life (2009)

Anna's life has begun to fray as she seems to be a little lost in her job, relationship, and the generality of her life. As life is though it gives Anna no time to mend the broken and she dies in a car accident, leaving behind a grieving boyfriend. When she wakes up in the basement of a funeral home, being prepared by the funeral director Elliot, she's afraid and bemused by what's happening. Understandably addled, Elliot explains to Anna that this is what happens after a person dies and that he's been given a gift to speak to the dead to help them pass over. Anna can't leave the feeling though that she's not quite dead, despite an autopsy proving dead-on-sight to her car accident. Trying to convince her Elliot's only response is frustration and his only solution is for her is acceptance. Her boyfriend Paul however is also not convinced that Anna is gone and finds suspicious in Elliot's character. As Anna's funeral draws closer there is no indication as to what really happened to her, leaving you to question is Anna dead or alive?

The film does have genuine creepy moments but overall it suffers from a lack of intrigue. The characters are uninteresting, dully pulled by the happening and the mystery of Anna's death. Maybe it was just me but I felt that so much more time had passed than that suggested in the film. Anna had till Friday to get her together, I believe which was only three days away, instead it felt like two weeks had passed. Also ridiculous was the use of CGI in unneeded scenes. In visual perception it wasn't quite as clear, there are shots of beauty and then shots of nothing special. A common thing I hate in films is when they try far too hard to create a color scheme and it's painfully obvious, here it isn't so vibrant but the noticeable color of red was throughout. It didn't compliment against the morticians green walls but overall it wasn't bad to look at.

The script isn't bad and as said the concept has some weight to it, but falls flat and never really picks up. As does characters, most are just unlikable and account for nothing more than that. Christine Ricci plays out most of her role a la nude, a favorable asset to you male viewers I'm sure. She does what she can with the cold Anna and is consistently good throughout. Liam Neeson is the man to shine here though, his character is by far the most interesting, a little bi-polar and psychopathic with his very polite manner to the living and his low patients towards the dead. I wouldn't go as far to say he's creepy, more or less odd with his lurking at love ones saying goodbye and his ability to speak to the dead. Paul is prone to fits of alcoholism and crying, all understandable as he's really the only one appropriately mourning over Anna. Justin Long is fine in the role, he seems heartbroken enough, if not more so than those around him.

At the end it just feels useless. In doing research I peaked on the film's IMDB discussion board and there are rather intriguing opinions and analysis's of the film from fans as to what it all means. I even saw one in how this film could be a literal interpretation of how the brain dies slowly and what people really experience in near death experiences could be similar to Anna's story, or in likes too. But those still prove far more interesting than the film. I've also seen a few comparisons to another film of this supernatural thriller nature, Dead Awake, but the difference is Dead Awake is awful, where as this mostly just boring. Not my recommendation for a psychological thriller but it's not an entire waste neither.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Rage (2010)

 WARNING: Contains Spoilers

As Dennis Twist leaves his suburban home early one morning to run a few errands all seems fairly prosaic, in a good way. He's got a beautiful wife, nice home, and appears to be a friendly enough guy, offering to help out his neighbor with a chainsaw problem. Dennis irreproachable image however is shattered to the viewers when we see that he's been having an affair. With intent to break it off Dennis heads into town but on his way his day turns sour when he blindly incites the anger of a motorcyclist. The biker taunts and stalks Dennis for what starts as a simple case of road rage but soon accelerates to a violent horror as the biker is now intent on killing Dennis. But when Dennis thinks he's escaped and heads home he's unaware that he's not only put his life in danger but his wife's as well. Chris Witherspoon's independent film draws heavy influence from the Steven Speilberg classic car thriller Duel in it's first hour and then climaxes to a bloody finale.

I had apprehension beforehand in viewing Rage. The heavy influence to Duel turned me off a bit as I didn't care for Duel at all. Also Rage is in every way an independent film, having been written, produced, directed, photographed, and even acted by one man, Chris Witherspoon. I'm much more nervous in reviewing independent films because they aren't big studio films that I can piss all over, these are films that are trying to get out to the public. The last thing any independent filmmaker needs is a bad critical review, even from a little blogger myself. That doesn't make them insusceptible to my critism though, independent or not if I don't like it I will say so. All that's irrelevant though because I quite enjoyed Rage. As mentioned Witherspoon was able to create a tense thriller in which he took liking to the similar plot in Duel. Not to set you on the idea that Rage is Duel because Rage has a much different tone to it. It effortlessly changes from thriller to slasher film, my favorite aspect about it, the former which instills the tension that the latter shatters with intensity. I genuinely found the biker to be quite scary in his rage, he remained faceless for the entire length of the film but still after certain scenes and images of his walk stay with me. The bedroom scene is by far the most tragic. It captures, in effect to shame, the death of a marriage and may be the scene to make the film. 

Though the affair is a fault to his character it doesn't distract from the likeability of Dennis or the overall sympathy that the script offers. His dewy-eyed stealing of the parking space from the biker is much more innocent than that of Weaver's arrogant cut-off of the trucker in Duel. Rick Crawford is quite good as Dennis. A little weak with his line deliveries but repairs it with an exceptional use of his eyes, which Witherspoon as a director knew to take focus too. In a collaborated effort the two are able to draw so much emotion, and not with just Crawford but Audrey Walker and notably the biker as well, to almost tell the story on it's own. It's quite phenomenal when watched on a second viewing to see how often the use is and how effective it is. It's the visuals in Rage that arrest the viewers though. Again Witherspoon served as DP and it may arguably be his strongest aspect in film, he uses a compilation of different techniques to create a photographed display of emotion. The camera and film used creates this odd post modern grit that I'm particularly drawn into, as I don't like HD but this offers the more high tech version of 16mm film. He also picks up the vibrant colors of the filming location and Dennis's stunning red car.

Usually I don't pick up or take too much notice to sound unless it's prominent and in this I noticed there was a unique way of sound lays. Specifically a scene towards the end where the starting of a chainsaw lapse's over the sound of a phone ringing, making a very provoked sense of fear. As well as early on in the film where it switches in conversation from a clear range of hearing to a muted sense, not sure if that was intentional or by accident but it was really quite fascinating to listen too. The last half hour to Rage is the best though as it really just explodes what ever suspense it carefully built up before hand. This is all acclaim to Witherspoon as every job he was a part of was executed to absolution. It's notably hard in straying the line between paying homage and directly ripping a film off. Though Rage has many moments that are pulled from Duel (i.e. Dennis inner commentary, never seeing the bikers face) it's still its own film and superlatively good. If you a fan of Speilberg's classic undoubtedly you'll appreciate the references but if not it's an antsy small budget thriller that doesn't show its limitations.