Sunday, November 29, 2009

'Dead and Rotting' was a film in need of a bigger budget

Dead and Rotting (2002)
Starring: Stephen O'Mahony, Trent Haaga, Tom Hoover, Debbie Rochon, Jeff Dylan Graham and Barbara Katz-Norrod
Director: David P. Barton
Producers: Charles Band, JR Bookwalter and Trent Haaga
Rating: Five of Ten Stars

Three practical jokers (O'Mahony, Haaga and Hoover) inadvertently cause the death of a witch's familiar while feuding with her. Using dark magic, the witch (Katz-Norrod and Rochon) sets about to gain revenge.

"Dead and Rotting" is one of those movies that deserves a remake with a bigger budget. It has an interesting story with some unexpected twists and good pacing. Most of the actors also do decent jobs in their roles.

Unfortunately, cheapness wafts from every frame of "Dead and Rotting". While a noble attempt was made in post-production to make the film appear as if it WASN'T shot in digital video, there is still a flat quality to the films and a softness to the shadows that still give the sense that it was shot with a couple of camcorders. The special effects and make-up are also barely half a step above Halloween spook-house stuff... not so bad that anyone needs to feel embarrassed but barely passable for a commercial production. This is also one Full Moon movie where they should have skipped the almost-obligatory tiny terror creature; the "homonculus" featured during the film's climax can't even really be called a puppet, and I also doubt that someone shaking it like a ragdoll from just off camera counts as puppeteering. ("Ghoulies" this isn't... it isn't even "Blood Dolls".)

Things aren't all bad, though. The scene where the vengeful witch transforms from an old crone (Barbara Katz-Norrod who does a fine job at playing a lonely, brokenhearted old woman) to a young hottie (Debbie Rochon, who does a fine job playing sexy temptress) is very well staged considering the only effects used are edits and puffs from a smoke machine. Similarly, the revenge of the witch and the slow method by which she takes it is very creepy and the related make-up effects are decently done.

If you want a horror movie with a slightly different twist and don't mind watching a film that was plainly made with very little money, you will probably find "Dead and Rotting" worth the 71 minutes it will consume of your time. This is particularly true if you enjoy that special brand of weirdness that's present in the best movies from Full Moon. This is by no means a good, movie--it's at the absolute low end of a 5 rating--but there's enough raw energy here and Full Moon-style magic to make it worth watching.