Neglect. Rape. Christmas Birth. A Perfect Storm for EVIL to be Born! “The Curse of the Werewolf” reviewed! (Scream Factory / Collector’s Edition Blu-ray)


Set amongst the simple, yet sometimes divisively barbaric, culture of Eighteenth Century Spain, a beggar stumbles into the castle of a cruel king whose throwing a lavish wedding reception with his lords. The King’s young bride takes pity on the beggar as his force to be the occasion’s jester to obtain scraps of food and wine, but when the King retires with his new wife, he orders the beggar to be imprisoned. Forgotten to the point of insanity with his only visitor a lovely mute jailkeeper’s maid, the haggard and disheveled beggar goes mad with ravenous intentions and when the maid is punished for disobeying the now elderly, but still cruel, King, she is locked away with the beggar who rapes her. When the maid is released next morning, she kills the King and escapes into the woods to live like an animal until she’s barely found alive by a nobleman named Don Alfredo. Nursed back to health by Don Alfredo’s servant, Teresa, and discovering that the maid is pregnant, Don Alfredo and Teresa tend to the maid until the eventual birth on Christmas Day, an unholy time to give birth to a child according to superstition. The maid dies shortly after giving birth and the child, named Leon, is then raised by Don Alfredo and Teresa as their own, but carries with him a terrible curse stemmed from the maltreatment of his parents and being born on Christmas Day that transforms him into a bloodthirsty werewolf when the moon is full. When a priest advised that only love will restrain the beast from emerging, young Leon must be continuously shown affection, but when a young man, Leon leaves home to live his life, but the beast within him returns to ravage the village’s population.

Let’s travel back in time to the groovy year of 1961 when the renowned Hammer Horror direct, Terence Fisher (“Horror of Dracula”), was accelerating to the height of his career into what would be the United Kingdom’s very own colossally cult production studio, Hammer Horror, that economically constructed violent storied horror concepts splayed with a brilliant crimson blood inside an orgasmic gothic melodrama circulating around most of the classic monsters like Dracula, The Mummy, and Frankenstein, but, in this review of a new collector’s edition of Scream Factory’s Blu-ray release, Fisher wrestled with the hound from Hell, the werewolf, in “The Curse of the Werewolf” that was penned by Anthony Hinds, under the pseudonym of John Elder, as his sophomore credit behind “The Brides of Dracula.” English studio locations were transformed, not under the light of a full moon, to fabricate a mock village of Eighteenth Century Spain with the immaculate details to the sets and costumes, surely recycled from previous Hammer films, to offset the inherent English accents on a broken Spanglish vernacular. Fisher and Hinds upend common werewolf narratives, spinning a wildly tangent rendition of Guy Endore’s already highly taboo tricked out horror novel, “The Werewolf of Paris,” and drape it heavily with Gothicism.

Playing the shapeshifter werewolf is Oliver Reed who at the time was relatively unknown, playing a few bit parts such Plaid Shirt (“Wild for Kicks”) or my personal favorite, Man With Bucket on Head (“No Love for Johnnie.”) Yet, Reed exuded animalistic qualities, such as his dark features and somber eyes, that made him ideal for the role by appearances alone. The thespian in him didn’t quite fit what I believe Fisher was trying to flush out for his beast as Reed held back with a stoic reserve rather than a man desperate for salvation or death, but no one could deny that Reed wore the werewolf makeup like no other, a fine tuned testament of makeup artist Roy Ashton’s creativity that intensified an already beastly framed actor. “The Kiss of the Vampire’s” Clifford Evans took the role of being the wealthy socialite and surrogate father, Don Alfredo, who took the responsibility of raising a cursed child as his own with much suppression love as he could muster to stave the beast from returning. The legendary actor who starred in countless crime-dramas step outside his niche and into horror, even if at the time horror was considered a schlocky exercise of distaste content for a cheap thrill. As Don Alfredo, Evans wages his worth solely on the prospect of being a gentled hearted father-figure doing the right thing even if it’s detrimental to himself and the veteran actor triumphs taking an aloof man with little responsibility to his village, let alone his home, and turning him into taking the matter of his adopted son’s affliction into his own hands when he fails to cobble another solution together. “The Curse of the Werewolf” holds many other fine support performances from “Circus of Horror’s” Yvonne Romain as the mute jailkeeper’s maid, Catherine Feller, Richard Wordsworth, Warren Mitchell, Anne Blake, and John Gabriel.

“The Curse of the Werewolf” is driven not by the snarling teeth action or the transformative body horror one expects of Lycanthropy features. Instead, Hammer’s film rides a story high without being arbitrary with nonsensical waning on the centerpiece of the story, the curse, coursing the path that led to Leon’s fate that was no fault of his own. Leon’s throat-ripping moonlight rendezvous was bred from cruelty and circumstance of severe class division that reaps the life from those in the same blue collar social class as Leon, leaving the higher, wealthy class virtually unscathed by the curse’s wrath in a cruel ironic twist of events. With the story leading the charge, special effects and makeup take a backseat without only some immature fangs and shadowy lurking to sate the need for creature presence. When Roy Ashton’s vision of the half-man half-beast does make a full presentation of Oliver Reed in the full hairy beast getup, complete with a furrowed brow, elongated lower canines, and large wolf ears that were connected with bristly, greyish brown hair down the side of his lower jaw, the werewolf is worth the wait for some of the best practical werewolf makeup from the mid-20th century and surely was the inspiration for future werewolf films, such as “Wolf” with Jack Nicholson. The novelty of “The Curse of the Werewolf” still remains ripe despite being nearly half a century young, giving the beast a meaningful, if not also pitiful, existence to empathize being damned on two fronts: a wretched, cursed soul and being the target of a village mob.

Can love soothe a killer heart? Find out in Scream Factory’s collector edition Blu-ray of “The Curse of the Werewolf” with a new 4K scan from the original 35mm negative and presented in a 1080p high-definition widescreen format of a 1.85:1 aspect ratio. Rendering with clean textures and superb details, the image has remarkable vibrancy and hue balance in it’s tinctured technicolor. The transfer is virtually blemish-free, suggesting that the original negative aged well, with agreeable natural grain to complement the film stock. Scream Factory has produced the best looking version of this classic Hammer release. The English language DTS-HD single channel Master Audio renders, again, scot-free of aged distortion with the high-definition eminent boost to providing even clearer dialogue and untarnished ambient clattering during more turbulent scenes of laughter or beastly disarray. English subtitles are optional. A collector’s edition wouldn’t be complete with a slew of bonus materials and, boy, does “The Curse of the Werewolf” have brand spanking new material for the special features that include a new Roy Ashton tribute piece by his friend and “Little Shoppe of Horrors'” writer Richard Klemensen and new audio commentary with film historians Steve Haberman and Constantine Nasr. Plus, interviews with actors Catherine Feller, Yvonne Romain, Mike Hill, art director Don Mingaye, art department member Margaret Robinson, and filmmaker Jimmy Sangster in “The Making of The Curse of the Werewolf” featurette, a look at Lycanthropy that discusses whether man’s inner wolf can be a transformative source of mental will, a still gallery, and the theatrical trailer. The package is illustrated with Oliver Reed’s snarling werewolf persona by Mark Maddox, who designed Scream Factory’s “The Thing” release, and comes in a nifty cardboard slip cover. All in all, Scream Factory brought new life into the re-originating and re-orientating “The Curse of the Werewolf” that is, perhaps inarguably, the best Hammer upgrade to date.

Own “The Curse of the Werewolf” today!

EVIL is a Slice of Deep Dish Hell in “Creepy Tales of Pizza and Gore” reviewed! (Bayview Entertainment / Screener)


Pizza, that delicious concoction of bread, marinara, cheese, and your topping of choice kneaded and pieced together in a gooey circular of staple culinary awesomeness, has somehow found its way baked into an Italian-sans-meatball horror anthology that promises an equally saucy taste of crusted blood red gore. Five varied, harried tales of horror molded into a gruesome and terrifying VHS-style that will send chills down your spine as you swallow your first piping hot bite of pizza will either have you hungry for more or hurling out your pepperonis. These tales of macabre include the cursed audio tracks of a deadly screaming ghost, the grisly torture and murder in the name of Satan, the tragic and supernatural deaths of two ill-fated lovers, a wooded creature stalking stranded motorists, and a VHS tape that seeks revenge on its former, ungrateful owner.

Let’s take our time traveling machine back to 2014 where Italian filmmaker, Lorenzo Fassina, releases his second feature directorial film behind the horror-comedy, “Anamnesi Mutante,” transmitting by way of a five tale anthology humorously entitled “Creepy Tales of Pizza and Gore;” the titles of the shorts are “Screaming Ghost,” “Devil of the Night,” “Alone in the House,” “Wood,” and “Killer Tape.” Co-directed with producer Marco Giangiarelli, The Milan born Fassina’s background also includes being a director of a collection of short films and music videos for bands that include Italian metal bands Cripple Bastards and Viscera///, similar music scores the anthology. The eclectic tales that greatly homage horror of the 80’s that include rich in color film titles and poignant atmosphere audio mixes, each have a runtime average of approx. 10 minutes long, and offer a mixed macabre of subgenre goodness from technological horror to inanimate object horror besieged with an interlacing host, a faceless, demon-like presenter with much to say, much like the Crypt Keeper. My apologies in advance as the screener that was provided didn’t have subtitles so the host’s soliloquy goes mostly misunderstood, but by the way of editing and how the syntax is structured, one would assume the ghoulish emcee sets up the pizza eaters with the next short video nasty. “Creepy Tales of Pizza and Gore” is produced by Fassina’s indie company, DirtyTape.

Most of us in the States more than likely won’t find any familiar faces inside the confines of these five tales and, know what? That’s okay! Aside from our hell bound host, there’s not a lick of dialogue spoken, but the capability to connect with the characters and the capacity to understand the story without words is as transparent as crystal clear waters of the Venice canals. An assemble of facial and eye expressions and a well edited together script and structure by Fassina for each short provides a sustainable and a sufficient menacing mixed bag of mouthwatering horror. The largely novice cast has either worked on previous projects with Fassina before or are an unknown delight to us viewers and cast list includes Sara Antonicelli, Beatrice Cartoni, Jonathan Farlotta, Jacopo Grandi, Francesco Marra, Tommaso Meledina, Alessandro Melito, Riccardo Tiberi, and Bunny Roberts with a cherry on top topless scene for good measure.

I’m not a terribly big fan of anthologies. Yes, I enjoy “Creepshow 2,” like every other horror fanatic smuck, and I do revel in the grave zest of the low-budget spectrum, especially with compilations from directors of the “HI-8”, aka “Horror Independent 8,” that featured the bloodbath films of some 80s/90’s SOV prodigies in Ron Bonk, Donald Farmer, Tim Ritter, and Marcus Koch, but most anthologies find their unsuccessful way right toward the trash bin, condensed to third-rate releases with little-to-no marketing and hardly any surplus material in the special feature department. “Creepy Tales of Pizza and Gore” may be a foreign anthology barely making an insignificant speck in the cinema market, but certainly shouldn’t be overlooked as the derived golden age of an immensely beloved straight-to-VHS horror courses through the veins of Fassina’s reverencing anthology. The stories garnish b-reel content, but not necessarily effortless or incompetent in substance and range from serious, to tongue-in-cheek, and out right absurdity, with the latter stories being the weaker links. In all, it’s a fun and entertainment horror show from our Italian friends.

“Creepy Tales of Pizza and Gore is delivered fresh and blood warm onto DVD home video courtesy of the New Jersey based distributor, Bayview Entertainment. As aforementioned, Bayview Entertainment publicity provided a streaming screening link so the audio and video aspects will not be critique for this review, but the DVD specs include a single disc, Anamorphic widescreen presentation, with an unrated rating on an Italian language anthology that, supposedly, has English subtitles – my screener did not have subtitles. Bayview Entertainment’s DVD casing resembles entirely like a VHS-cassette with faux movie rental stickers stuck on the outer plastic. The packaging is a nice and warranted touch to a VHS-homaging anthology. There were no special features included with the screener or released in the press release. Chow down on night with “Creepy Tales of Pizza and Gore;” a validating horror anthology worthy of time and effort and reaffirming the faith in anthologies once again with wild, imaginative macabre ambitions without the stiffening efforts of pushy financiers calling behind-the-wheel shots.

“Creepy Tales of Pizza and Gore” won’t disappoint! Buy here on Amazon.com

EVIL Can Never Replace Love in “After Midnight” reviewed! (Umbrella Entertainment / DVD)


Well known country boy Hank has everything he could ever need in the small, rural Florida town: having an establish family lineage, being the owner of a local bar hotspot, and obtaining the love of the beautiful Abby. Their gleaming happiness suddenly goes dim when Abby abruptly takes off, leaving a note with little information of her whereabouts or her plans. Fraught in her absence, Hank drinks himself into a stupor most nights of romantic nostalgia while also fending off his rustic home from a beast out of the surrounding woods that continuously scratches at his front door nightly. Hank’s friends believe he’s suffering a mild mental break as night-after-night, the snarling beast evades Hank every effort to capture and kill it.

“After Midnight” is a sheering melodious and delicately programed romance-horror from “The Battery” writer-director Jeremy Gardner allotting co-directorial duties again with continuous collaboration beside Christian Stella. As Gardner’s third film in the director’s chair, second inside the realm of horror, “After Midnight” brandishes more a sappy love story that sings the tune of a love lost warrior where the relationship woes lie within the deepest, darkest corners of himself rather than being a frontline horror sprinkled lightly with dusted coating of amorous renewal. “After Midnight” is a topsy-turvy monster movie not for an insouciant genre fan who rather skim the surface for blood on the topsoil than dig feverously for the originating root. If you’re also a fan of the mysteriously acclaimed, H.P. Lovecraft-inspired “The Endless,” the filmmakers behind that film – David Lawson, Aaron Moorhead, and Justin Benson – produce “After Midnight” under their Rustic Films label in association with Vested Interest, Cranked Up Films, and Kavya Films, casting that querying memento clinging like a foreboding, nagging scratch needing to be itched.

Not only is Gardner the director, he also stars as Hank, enduring the multi-hat involvement in his films in thematic fashion from his previous films, spearheading the roles in “The Battery” and “Tex Montana Will Survive!,” and Gardner has also branched out beyond his work, having roles in the visceral Joe Begos’ films “Bliss” and “The Mind’s Eye.” Gardner sports his common wear of a U-shaped V-neck t-shirt and bushy beard overtop his large frame and wields a sharp tongue, whiplashing small witticisms as he charms his serenading rustic charisma upon Brea Grant as Abby. The “Dead Night” actress enacts every man’s inherent fear of being lost without their better half when Abby hightails from Hank’s steadfast stance on life. Grant provides a flood of emotional drought through a series of Hanks’ melancholy, good times flashbacks that provide backstory fuel to Hanks’ quickly withering grounded state. Gardner and Grant’s chemistry eerily dons the routine life span of young love and weary complacency without so much showing the beat work argumentative discussions and differences of a diminishing relationship; their natural banter never derails even amongst a bedeviling beast with nightly visitations on a drained Hanks’ doorstep. “After Midnight” fleshes out with a cast of superb supporting roles with nearly Henry Zebrowski (“Cut Shoot Kill”) stealing the show as a half-wit yokel, Justin Benson (“The Endless”), Ashley Song, Nicola Masciotra, Taylor Zaudtke, and creature performer Keith Arbuthnot as the man in the monster suit.

Speaking of the monster suit, the unknown origin creature is very Guillermo del Toro-esque with a quasi-rubbery look, but still renders terribly real with the puppetry facial expressions and Keith Arbuthnot contorting his body to exuberate natural movements. However, don’t look to be thrilled by a ferocious beast as the constant the source of contention. It’s more of an afterthought, a pleasant afterthought, filling Hank’s Abby void or is it? It’s a question you’ll be contemplating when the credits role when a monkey wrench finale disrupts your premediated blue print scheme of a reason for the creature’s existence. Romance and melancholy cross paths in an overwhelming heap of love sickness, guilt, disappointment, and jealousy in a well thought out, smart dialogued version of a self-growth narrative.

There always seems to a malevolent monster behind the scenes, perpetrating the demise of a flourishing relationship exemplified by a beautifully wicked allegory in “After Midnight” distributed onto DVD home video by Umbrella Entertainment. The transfer is presented in the original widescreen, 2.35:1 aspect ratio, on a region 4, 83 minute runtime disc. The presentation is virtually flawless with palatable natural coloring, gleaming southern-sweat coated, natural looking skin tones, and overall details with Hank, and Hank’s house, looking specifically grimy and unkempt. Greenery is of a brown lush backdropped inside what could be anywhere small town America. The English language 5.1 Dolby Digital surround sound audio renders a nice range and depth with the monster’s muffled scratching and growling outside the door, the shotgun blasts are powerfully exalting, and the dialogue clearly couriers through all relationship qualms and Hanks droll dialogue. As of many Umbrella Entertainment standard feature releases, there are no bonus features nor a static menu. “After Midnight” is a contagious love story for not it’s mushy, heartfelt, weepie doting into the tears of self-pity, but for that lingering presence of sinister cynicism the monster epitomizes, a stark terror scratching every night under the skin until the unbearable hole in our hearts is finally sated by love’s return.

“After Midnight” available on DVD at Amazon

Danzig’s EVIL Stank All Over This One! “Verotika” reviewed! (Blu-ray, DVD, CD / Cleopatra Entertainment)


Three sordid, macabre tales straight from the controversial pages of Glenn Danzig’s Verotik comic line that slips into the surreal lurid dimension of obscure stories of a subconscious half-human, half-spider manifestation with a sexual appetite and a morbid desire to break the necks of women of the night, of a disfigured and mysteriously alluring stripper who seeks out beautiful women nightly to crudely remove their faces with a knife and overlay their once perfect skin on top of her face as she adds them to her collection of facial distinctions, and, lastly, of a bloodthirsty medieval countess known to her subjects for exquisite beauty and grace emanated by the blood baths of her virginal female subjects.

Legendary metal musician and songwriter Glenn Danzig has been a symbolic (Anti-)God that inspired other metal bands and fans over for more than 40 years, birthing perhaps the original, and still more popular, horror-goth punk bands to ever set the black lit stage, the Misfits in the late 1970’s. Outside his illustrious musical career, Danzig owns Verotik, a comic book publisher, that’s a portmanteau derived from “violent” and “erotic,” geared toward adult-themed material and inspired by his fascination with horror. In comes “Verotika,” a three short film anthological horror feature penned by Danzig and is his director debut while in collaboration with powerhouse musical recording label, Cleopatra Records, under their cinema label, Cleopatra Entertainment. Co-producing alongside Danzig is James Cullen Bressack, whose heavily been the created force behind the affectional indie found footage horror “2 Jennifer” and “From Jennifer” films, and Bressack associating collaborator, Jarrett Furst.

Keeping with the “Verotika’s” motif of scantily cladded women and the elements of horror, each story is driven by a female lead portrayed by actress who’ve established themselves with a scream queen presence, have enter the entertainment industry by way of X-rated programming, or are fresh faced with the presumptive hypothesis that the role secured was for their voluptuous assets. Ashley Wisdom is one of those endowed actresses that fit the latter category. The Instagram model and fling of Glenn Danzig becomes a shoe in for the lead of Dajette in the first segment, “The Albino Spider of Dajette.” Wisdom’s cringing faux French accent and rigid manner doesn’t wholly dilute from her bustier attributes that include prosthetic eyeballs for nipples – all part of Dajette’s character – and fairs better than Scotch Hopkins’s (“2 Jennifer”) absurd Albino Spider of grim free verse prospects inside a stiff, stingy mockery of a humoresque spider. Optimistically, the episodes only go up from her with the following tale ”Change of Face” that follows mystery girl, “12/12/12’s” Rachel Alig, hunting down and slashing off the faces of beautiful women for her collection. Alig is a palpable psychopath amongst a sea of overzealous, conventional orchestrated character types that sells a noir, or hints at a giallo, loom that sensualizes as well as sexualizes a salacious one-person schismatic view of beauty. However, the grand finale saves the best for last with Verotik’s more diabolical and foundational brutal transgressors, Drukija: The Countessa of Blood. Without so much of a setup or without expositional bookends that dive into backstory, conflict blossoming, or even resolution, Drukija’s a voyeuristic chronicle that exhibits the day in a life of a abhorrent ruler soaked in virgin blood with Australian actress Alice Tate fulfilling Drukija’s iron spike studded crown. Numerous scenes linger with Tate just bathing in blood or checking her sangre-moisturized skin in a three-way mirror to just extenuate the picking and choosing of daughtered victims, gleaming of deity-hood inside the eye’s of her maniacal maiden hand, and, in her spare time, amasses decapitated heads of the slaughtered young women as keepsakes. Yet, Kayden Kross dignifies that porn stars can get into the silver screen market, well, at least in Danzig’s irregular one. The director and starlet filmmaker hosts an outer edge story as the witchy-gowned and demonically unholy Morella who introduces each segment in between. Sean Kenan (“My Trip Back to the Dark Side”), Natalia Borowsky, Emma Gradin, with special cameo appearances by Caroline Williams (“Texas Chainsaw Massacre II”), Courtney Stodden, and a number of women from the porn circuit like Kross, such as Bobbi Dylan, Katrina Jade, Emma Hix, Aalyiha Hadid, and Veronica Ricci.

I’m all for the forging of industry realms when comic meet the big screen with adaptation and love Verotik’s edgy eroticism and hyper-violence mantra, but “Verotika’s” pulpy irregular narrative meter coursed a perplexing devolved sojourn through our visual cortex, leading us pleading for a bigger, better version of Danzig’s auteur dreamscapes. Verotik’s a fire and brimstone optical narrative from the illustrated pages that speak volumes of profligate and vivid avant-garde characters and unlimited violence that tremendously lose that tailor-made authenticity when translated to the screen. Danzig’s free-form script works with music symbiotically; for together, the strums and riffs glue together disassociating dialogue to a unison of harmonics, even if Danzig’s prefers harsher rock melodies. For the musician’s first dance with directing, Danzig deserves props creating a gory, pulpy, and colorful piece of his subsequent profession. Yet, there’s always room for improvement in his technique, such as Danzig’s fascination with the zoom feature on the camera. The edit cut is almost too rough for swallow with no segue equilibrium between shots that result in some obvious cue acting and I’m usually a fan of Vincent Guaustini’s work, but his Albino Spider suit, in which the other four arms out of the three sets were fastened together, rolled back years of good effects work.

True to form, Cleopatra Entertainment offers a staggering release for Glenn Danzig’s “Verotika” in a triple-format Blu-ray/DVD/CD release distributed by MVDVisual. For this review, the Blu-ray was covered and the transfer is released in a widescreen, 2.35:1 aspect ratio, shot on an Arri Alexa anamorphic lens camera. The enormity of color schemes offers a wide variety of tints, especially in “The Albino Spider of Dajette,” but revert to more a natural tone for “Change of Face” and “Drukija: Countess of Blood” with stable details inside and outside the black. Slightly hazy (or maybe just smokey?) at times, but the 1080 does too good of a job to see all the nonexistent pores on the ripped off faces in “Change of Face.” The English language Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound audio mix that, again, has a lossy quality from Cleopatra Entertainment, a sub-label of a major music recording company. The surround faintly register ambient audiophiles inside the channels whereas Danzig’s rock solid and eclectic soundtrack offers more, just a notch more, LFE oomph quality to boost into all areas. The CD renders around the same lossy quality. Bonus features include a trailer, a slideshow, and, of course, the compact disc featuring a new track from Danzig and also features tracks by Ministry, Pink Velvet, Studio 69, and Switchblade Symphony. Like a bizarro “Red Shoes Diaries'” episode, “Verotika” bares no shortage of nudity that’s interlocked with well-nigh arbitrary violence spread-eagled in a gnarled cinema anthology of surreality that lied festering inside Glenn Danzig’s head.

3 Disc Danzig! “Verotika” on Amazon!

Evil Aliens, Zombies, Vampires, Cannibals, and a Nun with Guns! “Savage Creatures” reviewed! (ITN Distribution / DVD)


On God-fearing land, two young women drifters are shown compassion and hospitality by a religiously devout mother and son offering hot food, a shower, and a bed for the night. Their seemingly infallible generosity turns to violent deviancy as concealed motives of their cannibalism catches the women off guard that inevitably places the unsuspecting women literally on the chopping block, but the drifters are no ordinary, helpless prey but rather ancient vampires, wandering from one small town to the next, struggling to exist. Just when the bloodsuckers think the ordeal is over, a worldwide invasion of soul-sucking aliens aim to cleanse Earth of all inhabitants, turning those attacked by the beings into flesh-hungry crazies. Trapped inside the cannibals’ house, the vampires must save their human food source from completely being eradicated by an aggressive alien race with a conduit to possibly the Holy Father himself.

Talk about a full monty horror movie that has nearly everything but the kitchen sink! “Savage Creatures” is the 2020 released ambitious action-horror written and directed by Richard Lowry (“President Evil”) that serves up a platter of creativity ingenuity on a micro-budget while still outputting savagery, creatures, and an entertaining good time from start to finish. Lowry embodies inspired resourcefulness that reminisces the economically efficient horror credits of long time indie filmmaking entrepreneur Brett Piper (“Queen Crab”) and though serving as the filmmaker with many hats, composer, editor, director of photography, and visual effects, he also incorporates his own pleasurable schlocky devices as he shoots in the rocky rural regions of Pine Valley, Utah complete with isolated roads and mountainous views. The epically scaled “Savage Creatures” is a creature feature accomplished feat, try saying that ten times fast!

The two vampiric drifters, Rose and Ursula, serve as the story’s centralized characters played by Kelly Brook and Victoria Steadman respectively. Both actresses have worked with Lowry previously on his 2018 Armageddon-esque action-comedy, “Apocalypse Rising,” and familiar with his budgetary style, able to alleviate the pangs of severe funding limitations with some fundamentally respectable performances. Rose and Ursula are not only lovers, but lovers with a cavalier premise on life stemmed from the centuries of human evolving groundwork, shedding a light on questions that should be asked and pondered on in every day modern vampire story. The dynamic between Brook and Steadman strike the nerve sincerely with causal conversation, pressing upon their inevitable doom in between blowing off zombies heads and fragging flying aliens with crossbows as if they’re exacting some self-decompression through violence. Though Brook and Steadman are good and stable throughout, vet actor Greg Travis lands a the lauded performance of Father Cooper, a fanatical Irish priest on the run from the zombie horde. The “Humanoids from the Deep” and “Mortuary” actor goes full blown dogmatic with his theory of God being fed up with humanity and pulls off the extremely righteous and holy neurotic priest as an overboard affable character whose has to trust a couple of godless feminist vampires during apocalyptic mayhem. Rounding out the cast is Ryan Quinn Adams (“Before the Dark”), Cean Okada (“Bubba Ho-Tep”), and Kannon Smith as Sister Gigi, a mute nun with guns.

From the very beginning, “Savage Creatures” maintains a fiendish tempo of anti-heros and butchery. Even the soundtrack, though a relentless boor of stock action selection, plainly works to “Savage Creatures'” advantage one scene after another inside the scope of the sharp, periphery sublet moments to keep up with the breakneck pace. Lowdry’s sees little-to-no expositional sagging in the middle or on the bookends and diverts away from any hankering for a character story or background to fluff up worth-wild characters. With the exception of Rose and Ursula, who complain like boomers conversing upon reminiscing about the past on how easy times once were centuries ago to get away with murder before technology became an inconvenience, much of the cannibals, the priests and nun, and even the flying devil ay like aliens backstories don’t bubble to the surface. While typically these off the cuff details usually roll my eyes back into my skull to scour my brain for the minor moments in which I might have mistakenly missed something about a character backstory or just produce a hefty sigh of longing for more personal information on why this character does what they do, I found “Savage Creatures” uniquely isn’t symptomizing a distress of forgoing persona tell-all; instead, plays uncharacteristically to the obverse tune of an entertaining racket of head splitting, limb chopping, and with a hint of rampant gun akimbo.

Buyer beware! Don’t trust the cretinous DVD cover from ITN Distribution of appears to be Julian Sands from “Warlock” raging angrily with milky white eyes and standing over Cthulhu tentacles surrounding him in the foreground and silhouettes of bats are hovering over in front of a savior-esque crown moon in the background. Instead, trust your gut (or this review!) and see “Savage Creatures” on DVD home video presented in an anamorphic widescreen, 2.35:1 aspect ratio. Pine Valley, Utah never looked so picturesque in a clean transfer. The natural colors feel a bit faded and not as sharp that perhaps assists in blended Lowdry’s composited effects and practical creature design. The cabin night sequence has some noticeable banding, but isn’t a game changer. The English language Dolby Digital audio track is par for the course, running clean and clear dialogue, and satisfying a range of sounds. Depth’s tricky with Lowdry’s compositions that don’t hem neatly, especially when Rose and Ursula crossbow down aliens from a distance, the same cry of pain is utilized for each darted creatures, and the running stock soundtrack flutters in front and behind the gun play at times. DVD bonus material include a director commentary, behind-the-scenes with the actresses and crew, and a VFX breakdown, which I thought was neat to see how Lowdry layered his effects on a budget. Not listed as a bonus feature is the gag reel during the end credits. “Savage Creatures” enters 2020 as an all out brawl designed as a battle royal but with little bankroll; yet, director Richard Lowdry beats the odds, pinning out a win as the scathed champion of his latest apocalyptic caper!

“Savage Creatures” battle it out on DVD!