Reel Advice from the Video Store Guy

The Haunting of Rebecca Verlaine | Primal

By Steve Anderson
August , 2008

The Haunting of Rebecca VerlaineThe Haunting of Rebecca Verlaine
***
DVD
Directed by Olaf Ittenbach
Written by Thomas Reitmair, Olaf Ittenbach
Starring Natacza S. Boon, James Matthews-Pyecka, Daryl Jackson, Beli B. Felsenheimer
Produced by Yazid Benfeghoul, Ricky Goldberg, Leo Helfer
NR
91 mins
2008

You know that guy? That guy who has all kinds of funny jokes and great stories and really knows how to be the center of a party but sometimes gets carried away? Yeah, that guy! That guy you wish you could get to quit drinking after three tequilas because BEFORE that he's unbelievable.

Well, if that guy were a DVD, he'd be The Haunting of Rebecca Verlaine. Hands down.

The plot is fairly simple--the Verlaine Commune is suddenly wiped out by a couple guys in clown masks one Christmas night. Founded by a wealthy musician, the Commune now has but one survivor of that horrible Christmas: Verlaine's young daughter Rebecca. After coming out of a coma, Rebecca grows up and sets out to live her own life, having forgotten the night on the Verlaine Commune. At least, until her dad starts appearing on television. And only she can see him. Now, she's got to find out who the guys in clown suits were and get them back to the Verlaine Commune, where the recently dead commies can exact horrific and blood-soaked vengeance.

In fact, a LOT of this movie will be blood-soaked. Normally, special effects in low-budget films like this really don't have a lot of punch, but man, did the Verlaine crew ever know where to pick it up! The Haunting of Rebecca Verlaine, as a result, is horrifically graphic, but also, believable. I can believe that, when a chick gets an axe through her forehead, it looks a LOT like how The Haunting of Rebecca Verlaine showed it. I can believe that those things Rebecca keeps seeing are horribly murdered ghosts. I believe this movie, and that's a long step. Rebecca's hallucinations are constantly and consistently freaky, and the opening dual-nightmare sequence is a tiny packet of joy bursting onto my TV screen.

But there are problems. Make no mistake. The Haunting of Rebecca Verlaine depends so heavily on jump scares that if you've got no adrenal gland at all this movie will bore you to DEATH. And the gore effects that really look like gore? They have a tendency to get wildly out of control. Like wildly. Like splatter on the CAMERA LENS wildly. And then they start tearing arms and shoving fists through people and a couple cops get torn apart for no clear or good reason and then there's the POWER DRILL and--!

You see what I mean. You just want to start screaming at the TV, okay, OKAY! Dial it DOWN a notch, huh? There's a LIMIT, and you people aren't just crossing the line, you are crashing through it like extras from the fucking Dukes of Hazzard!

I can see The Haunting of Rebecca Verlaine shrieking "Yeeeeee-haaaaa!" as it takes a bright orange car with a Dixie flag on its roof off a sweet jump while an ineffectual cop mumbles and screams unintelligibly in the background about how he's "gonna git dem Verlaine boys"!

The ending, meanwhile, is jam-packed with multiple twists, including an absolutely priceless twist at the end. Plus, lots more action and blood-soaked carnage. Lots and LOTS of carnage.

The special features include audio options, Spanish subtitles, and trailers fro The Chambermaid, Live Feed, Experiment, and Magus.

All in all, The Haunting of Rebecca Verlaine is a blood-drenched over-the-top gorefest that depends on a half-decent storyline and lots and LOTS of blood. It should be a fun rental for virtually any horror buff.

PrimalPrimal
*
DVD
Directed by Steffen Schlachtenhaufen
Written by Steffen Schlachtenhaufen
Starring Bethany Davis, Brian Girard, Biz Urban, Jack Grigoli
Produced by Patrick McManus
2008
R
80 mins

Okay, I confess going into this one that I wasn't expecting a whole lot out of it. I have seen very, VERY, few good movies involving sasquatches. In fact, the last time I saw even CLOSE to a good movie involving sasquatches it didn't even involve sasquatches at all, but rather was Lalo Schifrin's "Abominable", which featured abominable snowmen. "Primal", sadly, has absolutely nothing to suggest that it will be anything better. The plot of "Primal" resembles very closely a slew of other movies that are almost exactly like it. Basically, a group of college students loosely connected to an oil drilling firm goes out into a woods where it's likely no human being has before trod. And of course, they'll be running into something out there, namely a host of bloodthirsty protohuman monstrousities that'll be out to kill and eat them. When I said that "Primal" had absolutely nothing to suggest that it will be anything better than any other sasquatch movie, I meant it. "Primal" is packed to the ever-lovin' blue-eyed GILLS with all the worst mistakes a filmmaker can make. For instance, some productions might spend money on squibs and bloodpacks and whatnot when having a camper get attacked by a shaggy mutant beastie--not "Primal"! No sir! When campers get killed in "Primal", the camera shudders like it's going over twenty miles of bad road on a tripod with a missing leg. Oh, and even better yet, the costuming for the sasquatches makes them look like kids in bad Halloween costumes. One particular sequence underscores it nicely as a sasquatch is caught walking and we're looking at its feet. Unless we're supposed to believe that sasquatches have no bones in their feet, we sit and watch as a toe bends at a ninety-degree angle. Which all adds up to one great steaming pantload of a movie. For crying out loud, can NOBODY handle the sasquatch genre? Is this just a complete loss for anyone who tries it? It's looking more and more like that's going to be the case, so I'm at a loss to explain why anyone actually tries it. Worse yet, in a desperate bid to stretch this sucker out, they've tacked on a subplot involving a meth lab. Frankly, you'd have to be ON meth to consider this a good idea. It's a clear waste of time and space, and I can't even begin to imaging why it's here in the first place. The ending is sort of out of left field, but I do give them credit for the unique way in which they rolled the end credits. I like the whole "message board" thing--it's not done often and thus is worthwhile. The special features include English and Spanish subtitles, as well as trailers for "The Eye", "Saw IV", "Catacombs", "Haunted Forest", "Attack of the Sabertooth", "Cerberus", "Komodo Vs. Cobra", "Caved In: Prehistoric Terror", and the really freaky Fearnet commercial.

All in all, yet another sasquatch flop for Lions Gate forces me to wonder why the genre even exists.

Want to receive an expanded version of Reel Advice as an E-Newsletter?? Email to thevideostoreguy@columnist.com with "The Advisor" in the subject line.  Steve Andersen, much to his own chagrin, is a five-plus year veteran of the direct to video market. He has spent an alarming amount of time in video stores and seeks to provide the public with advance information on all the video releases that they may never have heard of...whether they want to hear of them or not. Steve appears in one way or another weekly, biweekly, or monthly on such fine entertainment-related ezines as Film Threat, Dream Forge, Reel Horror, Acid Logic, Chaotic Culture Magazine, Malicious Bitch webzine, and many others. Readers, agents, or editors can email Steve at thevideostoreguy@columnist.com




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