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Agent Z
06-02-2003, 01:43 PM
HORROR (2002)

Written and Directed by Dante Tomaselli

Starring:

The Amazing Kreskin as Reverend Salo, Sr.

Lizzy Mahon as Grace Salo

Danny Lopes as Luck

Vincent Lamberti as Reverend Salo, Jr.

Christie Sanford as Mrs. Salo

Jessica Pagan as Marisa

Raine Brown as Amanda

Kevin Kenney as Kevin

Chris Farabaugh as Fred

And featuring Felissa Rose as the Art Therapist

Color/77 minutes/Rated R


I went into Dante Tomaselli's sophmore effort, HORROR, with a bias. I expected to be disappointed. Dante's first effort, DESECRATION, was horrible in nearly every major area: writing, acting, direction, and production. I had a difficult time finishing DESECRATION....and I expected to have the same experience with HORROR. All the signs pointed to more of the same for HORROR: another shoestring budget, a majority of the acting ensemble from DESECRATION back in the fray, and Dante's press clippings promising yet another "disjointed, nightmarish film with an ambiguous plotline". Oh boy....

HORROR is basically two converging plotlines. One storyline involves five teen inmates escaping from a drug rehab center and embarking on a journey to meet up with the mysterious Reverend Salo, Jr. in hopes of "salvation". The pack of inmates is led by Luck, who, along with a few of the others, prepares for the journey to the reverend's home by indulging in several hallucinogens from a "gift" bag of drugs supplied by the reverend the day before their escape.




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The other storyline revolves around the Reverend Salo, Jr's daughter Grace (can these character names get any more symbolic?), and the systematic drug addiction forced onto her by the Reverend Salo, Jr. and his creepy, subservient wife. Grace's only help comes from talks with her late grandfather, Reverend Salo, Sr., who may, or may not be communicating to her from the grave.

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HORROR really gets started when the van of inmates arrives at Reverend Salo, Jr.'s home and all Hell breaks loose....literally. What is the reverend's real motives? Will Grace be saved? What role does Grace's grandfather play in her family's past? What is real and what is a hallucination? And then there's that mysterious, ominous black goat..............



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To say that HORROR is ambiguous is an understatement. Like DESECRATION, HORROR is open to interpretation (and lots of it). As promised, HORROR ends up being, for the most part, a disjointed series of images and scenarios lifted from other horror films (EVIL DEAD, NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, SLEEPAWAY CAMP...among others). In a film that ultimately relies on style to carry the viewer through, HORROR succeeds where DESECRATION failed, by being just a bit more polished in its set-up and delivery.

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While some of the set pieces were lacking and derivative (the zombies were just too Romero-ish and made me think of the better original source), there were quite a few images that came across very well......including a sequence with Luck's girlfriend in a creepy attic (nice use of shadows!)......and a great flashback scene showing Reverend Salo, Sr. using his power of suggestion to "cripple" a non-believing audience member.

Another pleasant surprise with HORROR was with the improved acting from all involved. Danny Lopes (Luck), who made me cringe at times with his delivery in DESECRATION, came across very well here and brought a great charisma to his character. Lizzy Mahon (Grace) made her character very sympathetic and believable. And The Amazing Kreskin (Reverend Salo, Sr.) was very impressive...he was quiet and understated in his scenes with Lizzy, and he just ate up the scenery in those "power of suggestion" scenes! Oh, and the always lovely Felissa Rose has a nice little turn as an Art Therapist......although if you sneeze and blink, you may miss her......



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If you enjoyed DESECRATION, then you will probably love HORROR...it's basically the same approach, but with a more polished end result. For those unfamiliar with Dante's style, if you can forgive the low budget roots and Tomaselli's habit of lifting from other classic horror sources, then you will be rewarded with a nice, stylized visual journey that's more hit than miss. HORROR is definitely a sign of an improving storyteller......and it deserves at least one viewing from genre fans.

Agent Z
06-02-2003, 01:45 PM
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Elite Entertainment's DVD

Widescreen Presentation: Aspect Ratio 1.85:1

Dolby Digital 5.1

Video: The non-anamorphic image quality was very good. Nice sharp transfer with deep blacks and vibrant colors. While there was grain throughout, I attributed that to HORROR being originally filmed in Super 16MM.

Audio: Strong and clear. Nothing spectacular, although I did enjoy the trippy opening music during the credits.

Agent Z
06-02-2003, 01:49 PM
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Extras:

Commentary by director Dante Tomaselli: Very informative commentary! Dante gives HIS interpretation of the many plot points...along with the usual highs and lows of budget filmmaking, including an account of his near-death car ride to a shooting location!

Behind-The-Scenes Footage: Very pedestrian approach to behind-the-scenes coverage with video footage of actors being prepped and locations being set up. Very little actual conversation is caught. Not bad, but could have been better.......

Still Photo Gallery: Behind-the-scenes photos of the make-up work and candid shots of the director and actors. 30 photos in all and worth checking out.

Rare Backstage Peek at The AMAZING KRESKIN Giving Cast Members Suggestions: With the exception of Dante's audio commentary, this is my favorite extra: video footage of the Amazing Kreskin prepping some actors backstage by using his "power of suggestion" (don't call it hypnosis!) on them....and basically reducing them to incapacitated blobs, struggling just to crawl along the floor!

Never-Before-Seen Clip From Tomaselli's First Short Film, DESECRATION: Ironically, this outtake is more effective than anything in the entire feature length DESECRATION. Go figure.....

HORROR trailer: I never understood why they make trailers like this. This trailer for HORROR shows WAY too much of the film and gives away several key plot points. Avoid watching this trailer until AFTER you've already seen HORROR.

DESECRATION trailer: Not quite as bad as the HORROR trailer in terms of showing too much, but you're probably better off watching the trailer after you've already seen DESECRATION.

mcchrist
06-03-2003, 10:31 AM
Excellent review, Codez... I'll definitly give this a shot.

Grim
06-03-2003, 09:02 PM
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That guy looks like that tattoo guy from Backstreet boys.:lol:

Anywho, great review. The movie sounds neat, I'll have to check it out.

Maupin
08-06-2003, 07:50 AM
Very nice review.

Desecration is the worst horror DVD in my collection. I might give this one a chance, but old memories die hard... Never buy unknown horror DVDs based solely on 1 or 2 Amazon.com reviews.... :(

spook
08-13-2003, 10:26 AM
Nice review but....nah...the film stinks!
I really wanted to like this.
I sat through DESECRATION and, although I thought it was pretty bad, it did have originality and it was a first effort from someone who might end up being good.Therefore, after hearing about this I thought I'd give it a go.
Yes, it does look more professional and the acting isn't bad but it just seems to add up to a big nothing. I got about 2 wee jumps at some of the makeup, face effects, but I didn't think there was any mood of dread or even interest.
The goat, although a nice idea, looked just like...er.....a goat! I didn't think it was scary at all. The zombies were dumb and a few of the characters did all the usual really annoying things like wandering into a dark, menacing room and calling out continually..".[blank]..are you there? This isn't funny!".......Too right it isn't funny! Mind-numbingly annoying maybe, but not funny.God..I hate that in these kind of films!
I like movies where it's not all spelled out for you and intriguing plots that can be interpreted on different levels but this is all so incoherant that its boring.
Like a moth to a flame I guess if Dante makes another one, I'll want to give that a go as the guy certainly has imagination and some of the shots are nicely done...Its just the pacing, story and build up that lets him down.
But hey!...What do I know! At least he's out there making movies and trying!!
Sorry, Dante!