Thursday, July 8, 2010

One A Week Reviews #34: Creature of Darkness

A title reviewed for Exploitation Retrospect. The bastards made me suffer this so you don't have to!


It's one thing to be a paint-by-numbers Creature-Feature for the Syfy Network, but what does it say about you to make those films look like they should be in the AFI top 100?

Well, CREATURE OF DARKNESS is just such a movie. From the beginning's bad CGI, like something out of an early 2000s flight simulator, to a later background composite less convincing than the kind of primitive 1970's Chromakey Sid and Marty Kroft would have used, right out of the gate this has the feeling of “why bother?”

A multi-culti group of twentysomethings go on a retreat to land right by a USAF bombing range to ride their ATVs and help now-puffy and thirtysomething “star” Devon Sawa deal with his nightmares. Of course, these bad dreams relate to that location at that particular time of year and bad juju that happened to his Uncle there, who warned him NEVER to go to THAT location at THAT particular time of year.

No, you're right. That doesn't make a lick of sense. Sawa here is joined by Sanoe (who the hell) Lake and Matthew Lawrence (If Lawrence brothers were Baldwins, he skips Stephen and Billy and goes right to Daniel levels of fame) and together the star-wattage is, sadly, neutral. I'm not sure of the point of a C-grade, no, make that Z-grade Sci-Fi film that presents you with special effects and breasts you can't see because the film is timed too dark.

When the girls aren't sunbathing in the shade, characters are driving their ATVs into magical sinkholes that appear when convenient to the plot. The stupidest character not only shoots his gun and hits one of the vehicle's gas tanks, but he then throws a flaming log that winds up setting off the flowing gas and blowing the bike to kingdom come. Seriously? Stupid.

About the only thing the the film has going for it is the alien when he's presented as a practical effec. With the bad CGI animation he comes off like a intentional homage to Ray Harryhausen. Mostly shown in closeup of his grimacing mouth, the critter is a cross between a mantis, a grey, and Alice Krige's Borg Queen, then dressed up like the JEEPERS CREEPERS monster. Thanks to plot exposition by Sawa's story of his uncle's convenient brush with this monster, we find out it's a spine-flinging “Catcher” collecting for what we can only assume is his outer-space zoo. His desire for unique and unblemished specimens makes this young knock-off United Colors of Bennetton crowd especially attractive to him in the one flash of intelligence the script shows.

Needless to say there's a predictable body-count and some action broken up by long periods of chat without any sense of urgency. There are choices made that make absolutely NO logical sense and plot holes created with no rhyme or reason in the story. There was at least an opportunity to showcase the “unique specimens” concept and explore just WHY the government didn't interfere with something that left gored bodies on their land. If these points do ever get explored, may they at least be by a movie with more going for it than this one.

To paraphrase Dorothy Parker, “this is NOT a movie to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force.” 

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