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You’re Killing Me, The Disappointments Room, Shark Night, Frankenstein vs. The Mummy, Cowboys vs Zombies, and The Frankenstein Theory
Weekly Horror Bulletin Newsletter 224
We’ve got our usual lineup of four movies and a short film this week— This time, it’s a wild assortment of weirdness!
This week, we’ll watch the brand-new ”You’re Killing Me,” followed by 2016’s “The Disappointments Room.” Then we'll take a dip into “Shark Night” from 2011 and do battle with “Frankenstein vs. The Mummy” from 2015
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For our bonus reviews over at horrorbulletin.com, we have:
• “Cowboys vs. Zombies: The Devil’s Crossing” (2014)
• And “The Frankenstein Theory” (2014) a very weird British “whodunit” about a mental case.
We’ve got two announcements this week pertaining to our books:
1. NEW! “The Horror Guys Guide to the Films of Peter Cushing” is available now at all the usual places, including our web store: https://brianschell.com/b/cushing. This is one of our biggest books yet, looking at all fifty of Cushing’s horror films and eight of his other influential movies.
2. FREE! ”The Horror Guys Guide To The Halloween Films” is available now, exclusively at our web store, https://brianschell.com/b/halloween. The eBook version is completely free. Enjoy! Note that it’s also available as a paperback, but that one’s obviously not free. Also note, that there are a couple of other free books on the site as well!
Check out all our books!
The Horror Guys Guide to:
Here. We. Go!
The Disappointments Room (2016)
• Directed by D.J. Caruso
• Written by Wentworth Miller, D.J. Caruso
• Stars Kate Beckinsale, Mel Raido, Duncan Joiner
• Run Time: 1 hour, 31 Minutes.
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
This was a slow burn that smoldered, and then it was over. It’s a case of a mediocre script happening to good people. It has a great setting, a talented cast with chemistry, and realistic special effects. It just fails to launch.
Dana, David, and Lucas drive down the road and sing as they go— credits roll.
Night falls, and it’s raining; they’re still driving, wondering if they’ll ever arrive. They eventually get to an old, dark house on a dark, stormy night. Great start, right? They all want a fresh, new start in their new home. That night, as they all sleep, Dana hears a child crying, and it’s not hers.
The following day, Dana overhears Lucas playing with a cat that came with the house. Dana explores the grounds, photographing the many ruins and damaged buildings they now own. They go into town, and Marti, the woman at the ice cream store, is ridiculously overcome with joy that someone will finally live in that old house.
Dana and Lucas see a scary dog in the backyard that’s always gone when they look a second time. That night, Dana encounters more weirdness in the garden and the house’s tower room. She finds a large wardrobe upstairs, and there’s a secret door behind it with a locked door. We see someone in there, but they don't. David suggests calling the doctor because Dana looks upset.
Dana gets some old photos of the house in the mail, and one of them contains an old man and a dog just like the one we’ve been seeing.
Dana finds the key to the hidden door and goes in. She almost immediately locked inside. She freaks out and then goes to sleep until nightfall. A ghost appears and says, “He doesn’t want you here,” and then the door opens in the morning. She goes downstairs and argues with David about who locked the door. They didn’t, and he seems to think she wasn’t gone for an unusual amount of time. He asks if she’s having trouble sleeping, and Lucas asks her if she’s getting sick again.
We see that Dana and David had another baby, Catherine, who clearly isn’t with them anymore. Ben arrives, a local man who offers to help them with repairs. Dana doesn’t like him, but David’s all in on getting more help. Dana finds an old newspaper article about Judge Blacker’s daughter’s death way back in the day. Dana decides she wants to move out, but David straightens her out.
Dana goes to the library and talks to Ms. Judith, an old woman who knows everything about the town. “Dana, it sounds like you have a disappointments room. When children who were born with certain difficulties were considered embarrassing, sometimes it was decided to keep that child’s very existence a secret.” These children were prisoners in that room for their entire lives. David goes to town for a few days, and Ben latches onto the idea that Dana’s going to be alone every night. He has ideas, but she soon shuts him down.
We get a deformed-children montage as Dana reads up on secret rooms. Lucas and Dana see a girl in a yellow dress up in their room. Dana watches as the dog tears Lucas apart, but then it’s just her imagination. Then she does find the cat, torn apart. She tells Ben to dig up and check out an old grave she found on the property—it’s just an animal, right?
We flash back to Dana’s past suicide attempt and then we see David talking to a psychiatrist in town in the present. He thinks she’s regressing since Catherine’s birthday was just this week. Dana is not taking her meds.
Ben digs up the grave, but the old, dead judge whacks him with a shovel. Dana finds the grave and cries, and then she finds Ben hanging from a tree. Meanwhile, friends Jules and Teddy come to dinner. Dana goes up to the disappointments room and “sees” the girl’s mother kiss her goodbye before the judge beats her to death with a hammer. “We have allowed this curse to linger too long.”
The judge looks at Dana and whispers, “You are a miserable mother, and you will fail again. A daughter, and now a dead son.” David gets locked out while the judge tries to smother Lucas with a pillow. Dana whacks the judge repeatedly with a hammer until he’s a bloody mess. David rushes in and rescues Lucas… from Dana. There’s no judge there. He obviously thinks she’s crazy. We get a flashback to how Catherine died, and she still blames herself.
David says they all need to just leave the place and go home. So they all leave. The end.
The title alone begs for a bad review. It, um, didn’t disappoint. The title, I mean. The movie sure did.
Does every horror film need to alternate between real supernatural things and someone not taking their meds? Or is everyone on meds, and I’m out of the loop?
The ending is upper abrupt—I fully expected another act or some kind of climax since there wasn’t one. It was a slow burn that never burned; it fizzled out about when the opening credits rolled. On the plus side, it did live up to its name.
You’re Killing Me (2023)
• Directed by Beth Hanna, Jerren Lauder
• Written by Walker Hare, Brad Martocello
• Stars Anne Heche, Dermot Mulroney, McKaley Miller
• Run Time: 1 Hour, 34 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
There’s a lot of good here. The acting, cinematography, settings, and special effects are all top-notch. But the story is contrived, people make choices that aren’t logical, and sometimes some simple communication would fix things up - it’s not a great script.
From the publisher:
Don't miss McKaley Miller, Anne Heche and Dermot Mulroney in the pulse-pounding thriller YOU'RE KILLNG ME. When Eden attends a heaven or hell party hoping to get a letter of recommendation to an elite university from the wealthy parents of her classmate, the party quickly turns into a fight for her life. YOU'RE KILLING ME is available now to buy or rent.
Detective Mitchell comes to class and says he’s investigating the disappearance of one of the girl students. Eden walks out of school as the credits roll.
Eden walks up to Schroder and asks him if his dad, the congressman, is still on the board at Penbrook. She wants him to put a good word for her or a recommendation. He’s a snob and says that’s not how this works. She asks him if he’s still having a Heaven & Hell party tonight, and he says that he is. Eden tells her friend Zara that they’re both going to that party tonight, invited or not.
The two arrive at the party wearing angel wings. Eden says she has a plan, and this will all be over quickly. Zara says that Schroder sucks and is a snob. They walk inside and are told to put their phones in a box because the congressman is there. Or because it’s his house. Or some contrived reason to deprive our duo of their phones. They have a quick dance montage, and then Eden spots Schroder. Zara talks to Gooch, Schroder’s friend, and tries to get him alone.
Gooch and Zara actually seem to hit it off. Eden sees a girl outside screaming, “Did any of you see my sister?” Tanya is out there screaming at everyone. She’s the sister of the missing girl the cop was talking about. Eden drives Tanya home and then returns to the party.
Schroder asks Eden for “her pitch” to get into Penbrook. Zara gets drunk and wants to go home, but Eden takes her upstairs and puts her to sleep in a bedroom. We see Gooch in the bathroom getting very, very high. He notices the unconscious Zara and approaches…
Downstairs, Schroder agrees to get Eden her letter.
Upstairs, Gooch is taking selfies with the sleeping Zara, and Eden catches him in there. Gooch leaves his phone when he runs out, and Eden finds an incriminating video of Tanya’s missing sister, Melissa, on it. It’s got Gooch, Schroder, and Kendra, the girl who collected their phones on it, but the battery dies before she sees where things ended. Meanwhile, Gooch is downstairs telling Schroder about his missing phone; the two of them, along with Kendra, come upstairs. How dumb do you have to be to leave an incriminating video on your phone that doesn’t even have a passcode to unlock it? Gooch dumb, that’s how much.
She admits to the bad kids that she saw the video. She threatens to start screaming unless they slip her a charger under the locked door. Schroder goes downstairs, cranks up the music, and ends the party, sending everyone home.
Zara wakes up, confused, and sees Gooch outside her window, which she opens for him. Eden knocks out Gooch but still doesn’t tell Zara what’s going on or why she’s acting like this. Would “Those guys maybe killed Melissa” have been too much to say?
Elsewhere, Eden’s dad talks to some of the kids who were just at the party and learns that the party has ended.
Now locked in the bathroom, the girls have Gooch tied up in the bathtub, and they dangle a hairdryer over him to get the others to go away. Schroder cuts the power. Kendra tries climbing the ladder to the bathroom, but she falls and gets impaled on her own knife.
Eden climbs down the ladder, and she tells Zara to follow her before the others break in the door. Eden finds Kendra on the ground and takes her phone to call 911, but it’s locked. Schroder finds Kendra but refuses to call 911 till they get Gooch’s phone back.
Back in the bathroom, Eden tells Zara what she saw on the phone, but she still hasn’t seen the end of the video. Zara, who’s soberer now, wants to give the phone back to Schroder, and the two argue.
Eden’s dad arrives at the house to pick her up. He hears the girls fighting upstairs. Schroder beats him over the head until Zara gives him the phone.
Suddenly, the congressman, Schroder’s dad, comes in and wants to know what’s going on. Everyone has a brief, tense standoff, and Schroder’s mother and father smile and look at each other. Everyone tells dad and Astrid, Schroder’s mother, what’s been going on. Then they find Kendra upstairs, dead.
Everyone is still sitting around downstairs talking, no one is calling for the police, not even Eden’s dad, who was clearly assaulted. Astrid fixes everyone some drinks. The congressman pulls out his checkbook and offers to fix everything for all of them with generous payoffs and a job contract for Eden’s dad that would set him up very well financially, and of course, a glowing recommendation for Eden to get into college. Eden still wants to see what’s on the phone, but Zara says it doesn’t really matter anyway.
Eden insists on watching the video, so we see that. Schroder ran over Melissa with his car with Gooch and Kendra there. Then they panicked and threw her body off the bridge. Back at the house, all the good guys have been drinking spiked drinks, and they all pass out. The congressman and his wife go all villainous on them, gloating and monologuing.
Everyone goes for a drive in the country (Why wouldn’t they just kill them all while they’re asleep?). Eden and Schroder talk in the car once she wakes up - though she can’t really move - and he says his mother wouldn’t allow him to go to the police. The congressman gets Eden’s fingerprints on the knife that killed Kendra, who is in the trunk, and then Schroder uses it to kill Gooch. They load everyone into one car and then push it into the river.
The next morning, Eden and Zara wake up on the bank. Apparently, Eden’s dad drowned in the car. Eden has another plan, but Zara ain’t having that.
We see the congressman watching the news reports about the “accident” as Eden comes up behind him with an ax. He seems resigned to his fate. Mrs. Congressman puts up more of a fight, stabbing Eden, but Astrid meets an electrifying end.
Schroder comes home and finds both his parents dead and grabs a gun. He comes outside after Eden, who drives right over him. They’re both wheezing and bleeding, and Schroder is about to kill Eden, but then Zara shows up just in time and whacks Schroder over the head with the gun, which finally kills him.
Would anyone really go to all that trouble to go to a party to hook up with a guy so that his father might write you a recommendation letter for a college that you haven’t been accepted to yet so that you just might get some classes with your high school friend?
The acting is quite good as are the cinematography and design. It looks great. The problem is the story itself is super contrived and unbelievable. So many of the actions, choices, and situations are just ridiculous.
And in the end, Eden and Zara are probably still going to prison for murdering the congressman and his wife.
Short Film: Jameson (2023)
• Directed by John Humber
• Written by John Humber
• Stars Brad Carter, James Grixoni, Tony Doupe, Taylor McKinney, Jasmine Wright
• Run Time: 11 Minutes
• Watch it:
A man chops logs next to his cabin in the woods. He very obviously leaves his ax outside. He then goes out hunting in the woods to bring home dinner, but he finds only dead animals out there.
We cut to a group of hunters outside, and an alarm goes off in the man’s cabin. One of the men comes out of the woods, claiming to be alone, but we know he’s lying.
Our guy is clearly very prepared for this…
What’s scarier than monsters? People alone in the woods! Well, sometimes.
It all looks really good; the acting is fine. It’s always clear what’s going on, but we don’t really know why until the end. It’s good!
Shark Night (2011)
• Directed by David R. Ellis
• Written by Will Hayes, Jesse Studenberg
• Stars Sara Paxton, Dustin Milligan, Chris Carmack
• Run Time: 1 Hour, 30 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
It’s basic entertainment, and it’s not too bad. There are shark attacks, of course, and there is an attractive cast of victims. Don’t think deeply about the science. But it has enough going for it to be a moderate thumbs up from the Horror Guys.
A couple swim on a beach. The guy gets out for a beer, and the girl is attacked by a shark. She’s pulled around just like the first girl in “Jaws.”
We cut to a university, where Gordon, Nick, and Malik argue about nonsense in their dorm. Malik invites him up to Lake Crosby to celebrate his passing grade. It’s at Sara’s house, so Nick can’t refuse. Malik also plans to propose to Maya this weekend. Blake is a nude model for the art classes. Sara, Maya, and Beth get in the car and they all head to the lake house.
Before they arrive, they all stop at a snack and bait shop. The shopkeeper is creepy. Red, the redneck in the parking lot, is racist, and his friend Dennis has crazy eyes. Sara knows the guy, and they went to high school together. They narrowly avoid a fight.
They take a boat out to where they’re going and get into a chase with the sheriff’s boat. Turns out, the sheriff is one of Sara’s dad’s friends, and he congratulates them for outrunning him. They briefly unpack and get ready to hit the beach. Malik tells Nick that Sara hasn’t dated in three years; she just hangs out with her dog. We get a shark’s POV of the dog swimming…
Malik is an expert water skier, and he shows us what he’s got. The sharks are watching too, and Malik soon loses an arm. Nick’s almost a doctor, so he works on saving Malik’s life. He dives in to find Malik’s severed arm, thinking they ran over him with the boat motor. He finds the arm, but he also finds a shark.
They load Malik into the boat and head back to the mainland. Malik’s bleeding overboard, and the sharks make the boat tip. Maya falls overboard and is eaten. They lose control of the boat and have to bail before they run into the highly explosive gas pump.
That night, Red and Dennis, the rednecks from earlier, show up in their boat. They quickly tell the two what happened, and they want to help. They decide to go back to the marina and call for help. Beth and Gordon decide to go along. Red thinks maybe a shark blew into the lake from the hurricane last summer.
Sara tells Nick about a boating accident from her past where she disfigured Dennis, her boyfriend at the time. Distraught, Malik grabs a spear with his one good arm and decides to go shark hunting. He spears a hammerhead right in its hammer-head. They find a camera mounted to the dead shark. What?
We see that Dennis and Red are up to no good. They stop the boat and put a sonic thing in the water. Is it a shark beacon? They insist that Gordon get into the water, but he says there are sharks. Red asks, “Who do you think put ‘em there?” Gordon swims to a tree and climbs out, but the great white shark is a good jumper and gets him.
The guys on the boat order Beth to undress, and she stabs Red. Dennis says there are 350 species of shark, and he’s only seen 46. They have been collecting different species of shark in this lake—it had nothing to do with a hurricane. They watch a bunch of little sharks eat Beth.
Meanwhile, Blake and Malik head to the mainland on a jet ski. Malik spots a shark following them and jumps off to sacrifice himself or commit suicide. A gigantic shark leaps out of the water and bites Blake’s head off.
Sheriff Sabin stops over just for a drink and sees the dead shark on the beach. He calls Fish & Game to look into it. Nick faints. Sherman the dog also faints after eating whatever Nick had. Sara overhears Dennis calling the sheriff on his radio—he’s in on it. Dennis arrives and shoots Sara with a tranquilizer gun.
The sheriff takes Nick to torture, while Dennis takes Sara. The sheriff explains that they put cameras on sharks to get footage for TV’s “Shark Week.” He thinks people will pay top dollar for the real thing. Dennis accuses Sara of tearing his face off with a boat motor and then lowers her into the water in a shark cage.
The sheriff gloats a little too hard. Nick sets the sheriff on fire, and the sheriff falls into the water. Chomp! Nick sees Dennis’s boat out a way and jumps into the water to swim there.
Nick puts a pistol to Red’s head and demands that Dennis raise Sara’s cage up. Instead, Dennis stabs Red and throws Dennis overboard. Dennis releases the cage, so Nick has to buddy-breathe with Sara, at least until Dennis attacks him. A shark eats Dennis.
Nick gets a gas cartridge spear and makes the big shark explode. He rescues Sara and they get back on the boat, along with Sherman the dog. We do get one final leaping shark because it’s a cliché and we can’t pass that up.
We noticed right off the bat that this was PG-13, which didn’t seem right for this kind of film.
Crosby Lake, Louisiana is a real place, but it’s a freshwater lake, and ocean sharks don’t really do fresh water. Sharks don’t jump like that. This is not a documentary.
The story is about as by-the-numbers and predictable as horror movies get, but it has lots of attractive, wet people in swimsuits. It’s not terrible, and it’s not boring, but watch it for what it is—there won’t be any Academy Awards for this one.
Frankenstein vs. The Mummy (2015)
• Directed by Damien Leone
• Written by Damien Leone
• Stars Ashton Leigh, Constantin Tripes, Brandon deSpain
• Run Time: 1 Hour, 55 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
This was surprisingly good, with a full treatment of each monster. The reason they are brought together is way out yet plausible at the same time, it’s a clever script. Effects, makeup, everything was all around entertaining.
Two shady-looking men meet. “There’s another list here. It’s imperative that the specimens be intact.” He adds that this’ll be the final time. Credits roll.
“Professor F” gives a lecture on the “Philosophy of Medicine” while we alternate cuts of him working in his filthy-looking lab. “We are gods and gods are us; the boundary is an achievement. The two most powerful things are to give a life or to take a life.”
Elsewhere, Professor Naihla Khalil gives a lecture on Egyptology. Quite a few of her students believe aliens built the pyramids. After class, Victor gives her a big hug; they’re dating. He asks her how her recent expedition worked out—she brought something interesting back.
She shows him the mummy of a king. Professor Walton wants to take the mummy to England for dissection, and Naihla’s not happy about that. Victor notices that the mummy’s ears have been cut off, which is unusual. A scroll in the Userkare’s tomb says the mummy’s soul is still trapped inside his body, and there’s a curse. Old man Walton says the curse is nonsense.
The school’s janitor is Carter, the creepy man we saw before the credits. Carter encounters a homeless man, and they have a conversation. Carter stabs the guy and saws the top of his head off.
Naihla and Victor talk about religion; she assumes he’s a Satanist, but she doesn’t really understand what that means. She believes in the supernatural, but he doesn’t. He admits that he became a doctor because his mother committed suicide; people shouldn’t have to die! This leads to kissing and a sex scene.
Back at the lab, Dr. Walton works on the mummy’s body. He finds a rune embedded in its chest, and when he pokes it, it shoots out gas that knocks out the old doctor. When he wakes up, Walton starts acting strangely. When assistant Isaac comes in, Walton cuts his throat and drips the blood onto the mummy.
The next morning, Naihla enters the lab, and the mummy’s still on the table. Walton says he hasn’t seen Isaac since last night. Walton then gives a lecture to a class, but he keeps having headaches. He offers Lenora an internship position if she comes by the lab this evening.
Victor’s working in his lab, and he narrates notes about his own experiments. Things are progressing nicely. “The serum works! Final reanimation of a body is a go upon delivery of a specimen.” Carter comes to the door with a brain but wants to “renegotiate our agreement.” He wants $30,000 instead of the promised $5,000. If he doesn’t, Carter will expose him. Soon, Victor has two bodies in his lab. Except the brain has been smashed. Fortunately, Carter has one that he can use.
We get a quick surgery montage, and then Victor throws the big switch. The body on the table twitches and convulses. When he turns the power off, nothing happens. It’s not alive. Meanwhile, Naihla waits for Victor to call about their date.
In the mummy lab, Lenora arrives to talk to Professor Walton. Walton tells her Userkare’s full history just before the mummy sits up and grabs her. Userkare rips out her heart and eats. He shares some with Walton. He sees a picture of Naihla and wants her.
Victor cuts up and disposes of Carter’s body, but when he returns, the experiment is gone. He soon finds it wandering around, and it bites him before he can chloroform it. He screams, “It’s alive!” He then chains it to the wall. It looks like a zombie, but he can speak; he asks for water. He can read too.
Detective Brynner comes looking for Lenora, and he asks Naihla what she knows. She asks the old man about Lenora and Isaac; Walton was the last person to see both.
William, a student, wants to assist Victor. He’s found out about Victor’s weird history in Europe, trying to reanimate corpses. Naihla sees the bite mark on Victor’s wrist, but he doesn’t want to explain anything. She follows Victor into an abandoned building on campus.
Victor brings the monster a sandwich, and his table manners are atrocious. Naihla opens the door and sees everything. She runs away, and Victor chases her. He has to explain what he did, but she’s not supportive of his success. Meanwhile, the monster in the basement breaks his chains and gets out. An ambulance driver spots Naihla and Victor and goes inside to explore. The monster kills him quickly.
Victor is soon captured by the monster, who remembers that he was Carter. He wants Victor to transfer his brain into a young, healthy body.
Detective Brynner sneaks into the mummy lab and looks around. He finds Lenora’s body, but the mummy finds him and pulls his brain out through his nose.
Frankenstein’s monster knocks on Naihla’s front door, and she soon finds him in the house. He starts to rape her, but she stabs him and runs outside—right into Dr. Walton, who injects her with something and puts her into his car.
Soon, Walton and Naihla go into the mummy’s room, and she gets a look at him. Userkare thinks she’s the sorceress who forced his soul to be immortal. He wants her to free him.
She speaks Egyptian to him and promises that she can break the spell. Walton says she’s lying and slaps her, but the mummy obeys her command and kills Walton. The mummy takes Walton’s nose, tongue, and ears as well as other parts you don’t want cut off. Naihla finds the dead detective’s gun and shoots the mummy before running to Victor’s lab and releasing him.
The mummy, however, has followed her to Victor’s lab. The mummy punches Victor’s guts out. He’s about to stab Naihla when Frankenstein’s monster interrupts.
The two undead monsters fight with knives as Naihla tries to get Victor outside. Frankenstein pulls the mummy’s beating heart out of his chest and smashes his head.
The monster comes over to Victor and Naihla, but Victor looks dead. Without Victor to transfer his brain, he’s trapped in that ugly body. No, Victor’s not dead; he smacks the monster in the forehead with a meat cleaver. He asks her to destroy all the evidence of what he’s done and then dies.
Later, student William wanders through the burnt wreckage and finds Victor’s lab notes and voice recorder…
Max Rhyser, as Dr. Frankenstein, doesn’t look old enough to be out of medical school, much less teaching university courses or cheating death. Boomer Tibbs, as Professor Walton, is really cool—he looks like Peter Cushing merged with Julian Richings.
The “dead” mummy prop looks really good. The mummy’s makeup is pretty good, too, although Frankenstein’s monster just looks like a zombie (which he is, more or less). He grew on me as the story progressed. The gore is very well done.
This was actually far better than I was expecting. It’s a bit long, but it does fully deal with both monsters. The “VS” part of the title makes you think there’s going to be a big battle, but there’s not much of that. It brings to mind “Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man” (1943). There wasn’t really much of a battle there, either, but it was still fun. It’s more about the monsters than the battle.
They never show us how Naihla’s going to explain all the dead bodies with no evidence of the monsters.
Cowboys Vs Zombies: The Devil’s Crossing (2014)
• Directed by Carmelo Follo
• Written by Carmelo Follo
• Run Time: 1 Hour, 25 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
It wasn’t awful, but it was middling in pretty much every way. It’s a post-apocalyptic return to the Western style rather than the Old West, which is a forgivable way to have a lot of anachronisms on a low budget.
Mr. Shadrach Babcock digs a grave as another man walks up to him. “You don’t usually bury them. You of all people should know these things happen.” The other man, whose face is unseen, is the devil (or maybe Death). He hands Shadrach a list of names. Credits roll.
We soon see that it’s some kind of apocalyptic western world. A bunch of dirty men hang out in a shed and make jokes about Wade McDermott, the outlaw. Shadrach walks in to warm his hands. “You McDermott? I’m here for you.” He kills four of the men and then drops the papers with their names next to their bodies. He asks about another man and is told that he’s in town.
Meanwhile, the other man is in town and kills a prostitute. He comes out and orders a whisky and makes fun of Shadrach who’s drinking milk. He’s Wade McDermott, a known killer. He kills a man in the street then comes back to laugh at Shadrach again. Within minutes, men drag Wade out, crying like a baby. A big bloody crying baby.
Meanwhile, one of the town drunks wanders out behind the barn to puke. He sees someone he knows who’s walking all twitchy-like. Yes, it’s a zombie, and she’s not alone. The drunk is soon eaten alive.
Death rides into town, literally. He’s followed by hordes of zombies. He goes inside to talk to Shadrach. Death asks how the saloon got its name, “Wailing Banshee.” A man explains that after the great war, there were more bodies than survivors, so they buried them in heaps and built mounds over the bodies. The town is named after Banshees, which have something to do with the mounds. Death says his name is Louise (Luis?).
Death says that Shad was one of his finest employees, but pickings have been sparse since the war. They have a contract that can never be broken, but Shad has recently disobeyed him. Shad is a “collector” who works for Death. The two argue for a while, but then someone notices the town is crawling with zombies. Shad says the contract is over, but Death disagrees.
Death leaves, and Shad starts shooting zombies. Some of the townspeople come out with guns and help. Patrick gets bitten, and Shad explains what happens when a zombie bites you. There’s the usual arguing and denial as Shad explains his job. He made a deal with the devil to collect murderers. Shad refused to kill one man, McDermott, and now the contract is broken. The zombies are here to punish Shad.
There’s a long scene of combat and fighting. There’s a long stretch where it’s nothing but four characters shooting at zombies. Finally, it comes down to Shad versus the zombie-McDermott, and he doesn’t die easily.
Louise/Death comes back to taunt Shad, and he wants McDermott, who isn’t a zombie anymore, murdered. Shad challenges Louise to a duel and shoots the old man several times.
On the way out of town, Shad shoots McDermott anyway. “Not for Louise. That was for me.”
Why did Shadrach pick McDermott, of all people, to refuse to kill? He obviously had it coming from the first scene.
Well, it was one of the movies of 2014, that’s for sure.
My guess is that they wanted to make a real western but couldn’t afford it, so they left in all the anachronisms and called it an apocalyptic future. They didn’t have any real outlay for costumes. It’s so low-budget that there are no actors listed on IMDB.
There are a lot of zombies, but it’s so dark that most aren’t made-up in any way. Everyone walking around with dirty faces was just excessive—don’t they have water or mirrors in the future? I’m not talking about cowboys, I mean the townspeople who supposedly live in buildings. Why are they all dirty-faced?
What little gore there is well done, but there’s not enough of it. The dialogue is awful and the acting isn’t much better. It’s far from the worst film we’ve seen, but I definitely wouldn’t recommend it.
The Frankenstein Theory (2014)
• Directed by Andrew Weiner
• Written by Vlady Pildysh, Andrew Weiner, Mary Shelley
• Stars Joe Egender, Haydyn Foster, Brian Henderson
• Run Time: 1 Hour, 27 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
It’s an interesting found-footage drama, with a unique quest that they are on. It takes some time to get going, but once they are on their way it’s more watchable. Kevin liked it a lot more than Brian.
We get an intro that explains this will be a found footage film. Jonathan Venkenhein is being interviewed, and we hear that he’s brilliant. He has some old letters from his grandfather, a man who met Victor Frankenstein, which are the basis of the famous novel. “Frankenstein,” the book, is a nonfiction story. Annie interrupts the interview—she doesn’t want the film crew there. The film crew leaves, and they make jokes about Frankenstein in the car. Credits roll.
The interview resumes later, and Jonathan explains about the Illuminati and the key to immortality. He blathers on and on about boring stuff, culminating in his suggestion that Frankenstein’s monster is still alive and out there somewhere. Annie says that Jonathan is obsessed “with this bullshit theory.” Vicky and the reporters are planning a trip to the Arctic to do more research on Frankenstein.
We cut to the whole crew going to White Horse in Canada. Jonathan has a bad drawing of some kid’s eyewitness account of seeing the monster. They’re going to see Clarence Malusky, who also has claimed to see the monster. Clarence turns out to be a weirdo meth dealer. He tells the story about meeting a tall scary man. That interview goes quite… badly.
Next, they go to Deline in the Northwest Territories, where it’s icy. Karl, the man who rents them snowmobiles and acts as their guide, warns them about the cold, the polar bears, and maybe even walruses. Jonathan gets a call from Annie; she’s leaving him while he’s away. They hear wolves, but Kurt says they aren’t interested in them; “It’s the bears you have to worry about.”
Cameraman Eric wanders at night in the dark and gets a jump scare from Karl. Jonathan thinks he can feel the monster’s presence out there. The gang finds an abandoned yurt about 60 miles from the nearest real house. In a few shots, we see someone wandering around the tree line. Jonathan claims that the number of unexplained deaths in the region is statistically significant.
Karl agrees with the statistics but thinks it’s just a bear that killed those people. Karl tells a story about a polar bear attack. That night, the wolves go crazy, but then they hear something else growling out there. Jonathan says, “I think that’s him.”
In the morning, they find one snowmobile smashed, one missing, and one remaining. Karl says it had to be a man. Karl takes his rifle and goes after the guy. Jonathan tells Vicky that he needs proof that Frankenstein is real and wants to meet him. After several hours, Eric and Brian take the remaining snowmachine to go looking for Karl. They find what’s left of him anyway.
Everyone wants to leave, but Jonathan isn’t having it. He’s financing this whole thing, and he wants to stay. Luke is going to take the snowmachine and try to find a road somewhere to get help. That night, the creature comes back to their camp.
The next morning, they find Luke’s snowmobile and helmet, but no Luke. Brian finally finds Luke, but the creature kills Brian. The remaining trio goes back to the yurt, but the creature is already in there. As the sun goes down, they finally get a glimpse of the giant man by the yurt. Jonathan calls for the monster to come to him while the others try to get into the yurt using the night vision on the camera. Eric is killed next.
Jonathan finds the camera and meets up with Vicky; they’re the only ones left. We hear Jonathan outside, talking to the creature, and it sounds like it goes really bad for him out there. The creature tears the door of the yurt off, comes inside, and kills Vicky too. It carries out her body and the little rag dog we saw earlier.
If you can make it to the point where they start their trip, it’s OK, but the first twenty minutes or so make it really hard to slog through. We never do get to see the monster clearly.
Whenever Kris Lemche, as Jonathan, came on the screen, I checked the time on my phone. He’s so incredibly boring and monotone that it really kills… everything. Every scene halts when he speaks. He’s supposed to be playing an obsessed science nerd, so maybe he’s going for a sort of “autistic” flavor, but wow, is it hard to watch. The other actors are all fine, and they’re the only reason this is even remotely bearable.
The location scenery is really nice. That’s the only nice thing.
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