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Reel Advice from the Video Store Guy

The Slaughter | The Attic

By Steve Anderson
February 1st , 2008

The SlaughterThe Slaughter
****
DVD
Directed by Jay Lee
Written by Jay Lee
Starring Jessica Ellis, Zak Kilberg, Billy Beck, Terry Erioski
Produced by Calvin Green, Judy T. Marcelline, Michael J. Zampino
96 mins R 2007

Any time you can fire up a movie and catch "Cthulhu Fhtagn R'lyeh" in the first two minutes, man, you know you're in for something.

Lovecraft movies--indeed, anything connected with Lovecraft--run the full gamut from great and terrific titles like "Re-Animator" and spiral all the way down to godawful and horrific titles like Ulli Lommel's slow death that was "H.P. Lovecraft's The Tomb", now officially the low-water mark of Lovecraft filmmaking, forever taking "Dagon" off my chopping block.

And indeed, this one will be no different, spending its first three minutes on a bunch of naked chicks chanting and stabbing something frantically with big old curvy knives and fast-cutting clips of facial reactions and murder whilst raising a demon up from the ground.

Said demon will then run amok in a most predictable but surprisingly rousing fashion and later rip to shreds a coterie of college students who have taken on the job of cleaning an abandoned house.

For the first time in a long time, "Re-animator" is actually at risk as the top of the Lovecraft heap. They are going to run positively amok with this. I'm not sure how the woman who originally owned the house died...but that coat rack looks to be lodged someplace extremely unpleasant. I rewound and frame advanced this bit like four times, and I believe it's entirely possible that she may well have died with a smile on her face, if you follow my meaning. Which might well distract you from the small goof that takes place as someone actually walks past the window in the background.

It's like somebody just looked at Jay Lee and said, "Three words, Lee--Over. The. TOP. Got it? Over the fucking top. We want an insane movie for insane people who are going to scream their black little hearts out with glee." And indeed, Lee provided. This is insane, and over the top, and everything else.

Better yet, "The Slaughter" will actually manage to be funny on several occasions. In fact, watching it puts me very much in mind of a certain early Sam Raimi film that became a cult classic. Now, I don't make comparisons like this lightly...but I believe very firmly that "The Slaughter" could be considered the "Evil Dead" of its era. I have no problem with being quoted on that either--watch it and see for yourself. See if you spot the shades of Raimi going on here.

The ending features an actual comparison of the various types of zombies, although it's only a Romero classical versus Snyder revision zombie battle, and ignores the Fulci zombies, the Re-Animator zombies and the Return of the Living Dead zombies. Among the sheer hordes of other types of zombies out there and there are a LOT.

That and a really kickass twist ending. You're gonna love it.

The special features include English and Spanish subtitles, along with deleted scenes and outtakes, plus trailers for "The Slaughter", "H.P. Lovecraft's The Tomb", "Acts of Death", "Holla", "Curse of Alcatraz", and "Hardrock".

All in all, wow. I'm actually pretty impressed by this, and see a lot of solid things in it. Especially for something so clearly low-budget and shot with just basically the one set of the house. A serious competitor to the throne of top Lovecraft, we might just be we're looking at a brand-new Raimi in the making here.

 

The AtticThe Attic
**
DVD
Directed by Mary Lambert
Written by Tom Malloy, Bob Reitano
Starring Elisabeth Moss, Tom Malloy, John Savage, Catherine Mary Stewart
Produced by Aimee Schoof, Isen Robbins, Tom Malloy, Russ Terlecki
R 2007 85 mins

I'll confess to having mixed emotions when I slapped "The Attic" into my DVD player. The fact that it had someone from "Pet Sematary" attached to it was definitely a point in its favor, but the last time I saw something from Slamdance On The Road, The Other Side, it frankly was not that great.

So now I'm looking at it and wondering, for once, lightning will strike twice. But in which direction?

The plot is almost worrisome in its simplicity--just your standard class-X haunted house story--with the wrinkle that only one person who lives in the house can actually see any of the stuff that's going on. So naturally, all the old questions of sanity and hallucination rear their ugly heads. Most of the problems seem to center around the attic of said haunted house, so that at least gives us a focus to work with.

On the one hand, it's good to see something so simple again. It's not very often that we get a straight haunted house story, but then, can it provide sufficient depth on its own to make it worthwhile?

The answer? Not so much. It's not that there's not a lot to like about "The Attic"--you can really see the gradual decline as the engine behind the haunting takes force--it's just that it's really too straightforward. It gets sort of predictable, especially if you have a lot of experience with prior horror films. If you know what you're doing, then you'll know what they're doing. You'll get the feeling that you've seen this all before, and the worst of it? In places...you already have seen it.

The ending is a hallucinatory intermingling of images and plots--plenty twisty but at least slightly confusing. It leaves more than a few questions unanswered, but the lack of answers actually makes things a bit scarier.

The special features include Spanish subtitles and trailers for "The Attic", "The Other Side", "The Unknown Trilogy", "Hack!" and "Night Junkies".

All in all, if you're into haunted house fare then you'll find plenty to enjoy in "The Attic", but for those who have experience in the genre, you might be more bored than anything. Still, it's worth a rental if you can't find much else good.

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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