Saturday, October 21, 2006

Fallen Angels with David Hess, directed by Jeff Thomas, sneak peak premier at Screamfest LA at the Chinese Theater

Here in LA we are very noncommittal, so a friend told me last night, and I could not agree with him more. All week I've been putting off Screamfest events, and then finding them to be sold-out when I finally decide to head down there. Fallen Angels was guarantee to be a star-studded premier with favorite classic actors of mine, and since the showing was at noon, I had a good feeling about there being some tickets still available day off. Not wanting to be shutout again, I headed down to the Chinese Theater box office and threw down $12 for a ticket at about eleven. Immediately after purchasing my single ticket, one of the producers of the movie gave me two free tickets. Oh, if only I had talked to her a minute earlier. I was able to give one to a friend, still asleep back at my house on the couch, but was unable to find a home for the second. We tried to find someone on the boulevard to give it too, but the costumed street performers were scaring everyone away. Note: the Superman, the most "famous" of the performers attending this screening as did the low-rent Pinhead in a rubber halloween store costume, which is fitting, as Bob Keen who worked on the Hellraiser movies did some of the special effects for this movie.

I'm sure one of my roommates would have come to this screening had she known that Adrianne Curry and her husband, Mr. Peter Brady, would be there posing for a pictures with everybody on a small Fallen Angles red carpet mockup before the movie. Curry appears briefly in the film. Also in attendance were Reggie Bannister (Phantasm) and David Hess (Last House on the Left, House on the Edge of the Park), who sat directly in front of myself and my friend Patrick. Many other cast members were present, and though I am not so much of an expert on non-horror stars, all of the older actors in this movie are screen veterans. The lineup for this movie is huge and director Jeff Thomas remarked before the movie that he did a good job placing these names and faces in roles where they were not appear to be just making a cameo. I agree with him, though the Reggie Bannister scene does stick out. It's pretty funny. He plays opposite WWE star/Playboy covergirl, Christie Hemme.

This movie has no distributor yet. It is clearly not meant for the big screen and suffered a bit from such large projection. I'll cover the flaws first. After nearly every line, heavy music drops. Example: "Birds don't ever nest in here" and then a "dun-dun-dun" type of heavy music hits, lots of low strings and some pretty bad sound effects. The first third of the movie moves too quickly. There are tons of characters and plot elements introduced, many of which are not needed to support the story, which really does not start to make any sense until half way through the film. At that point, when characters are giving some good talking time, the movie starts to get interesting. There is some great dialogue here, great acting, and lots of spiritual talk. I would go so far as to say that this is perhaps the most Christian-themed horror movies I have seen that is not from the Excorcist family of films. Now I'm sure that me saying that will rub some of my readers the wrong way, but I assure you that the sentiments and the cheese, which is laid on thick, is the best part of this movie. Some time after the 80's we got rid of all the sincere, yet syrupy sweet, stuff. That was refreshing at the time, but after 15 years all the irreverence has gotten boring and predictable. Nothing is worse than someone trying to shock and be cutting edge when they are just delivering the same rehashed shit packaged as rebellion. I can't stand it and am ready for some straightforward bullshit as opposed to bullshit that pretends not to be trying hard cause it's so damn cool.

Of course this movie is extremely gory. I love blood baths, but again, this movie is best with the dialogue and story and not all the action scenes with Cenobites running wild really worked for me as I watch about three horror films a week and am pretty familiar with that kind of stuff. The film is set at an Ohio prison, abandoned, the same prison where the Shawshank Redemption was shot. This movie has David Hess in a role unlike any you have never seen him in before. I have no idea what his fans will think, personaly it made my day, but without question it will have even the detractors talking. He deserves to be listed much higher-up in the credits as his role is very important and well, I for one went to see this movie just because he is in it. One theatergoers said Hess was "born to play" this role. Hess said he preferred funnier roles (like Krug?), but later did reveal that he may have had some say into the specifics of what made up this character. I really should give it away, shouldn't I?

Overall I have to give this movie a mixed review as some of it is rather messy, but it does contain some very different elements and delves deeply into discussion about what the director would call the "spiritual" - losses of faith, existence of God, inhumanity, a kid getting thrown into the fire by an angry Catholic Mexican mob, etc. We shall see how this stuff flies in a post-ironic world. Me, if I had the same vision of the director, I would lay it on thick, church bells and all. Other people would say "you can't do that". I'd say, "fuck you, I'm doing it", because I like overkill to the max, really nailing the point home and then some. Like I said above, I'd have a much more positive experience with this movie on DVD, the lighting and picture quality (and perhaps the sound mix quality -maybe that's why I did not like some of the FX) are not high enough for projection in a theater.

Also starring in this movie, Bill Mosley (TCSM 2, Devil's Rejects), Michael Berryman (original Hills Have Eyes, Devil's Rejects), Michael Dorn (Lt. Warf), Kane Hodder (an associate producer to the film as well), and Kevin McCarthy (Ghoulies III).


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