The EVIL Next Door Invites the Urban Decay. “Terrified” reviewed (Acorn Media International / Blu-ray)



A young boy is hit and killed by a bus.  A housewife is found hung in her bathroom.  A man has disappeared in his home.  Three incidences, three houses, three souls have one thing in common.  They’re neighbors.  The unusualness surrounding each tragedy grabs the attention of former forensics investigator Jano who’s own experience with the paranormal thrusts an unquenchable desire to examine the supernatural.  In a matter of coincidence, Dr. Mora Albreck, a vocational psychokinetic researcher, follows up on the disappearance of the man who called her countless times for help, but then just vanishes.  Accompanied by Dr. Albreck’s assistant, Dr. Rosentock, and Detective Funes, a weary, on-the-edge officer with a bad heart, the divide themselves to stay the night in each house and experience the paranormal phenomena calling from the beyond, but the entities calling just might terrify them. 

Hailing from Argentina comes the shivering, cross dimensional unknown from writer-director Demián Rugna’s 2017 properly titled, “Terrified.”  Originally known as “Aterrados,” the Buenos Aires filmmaker, who’s helmed hell bound thresholds previously with his introductory feature film, “The Last Gateway,” remains inside the grindhouse and horror bubble with another slit between realities thriller.  This particular bubble bursts with a whirlwind of nebulous outbreak of terror while providing microbe commentary about the potential dangers of Latin America’s water system and a perspective theme that speaks volumes on the issues of duality in what really happened and what the general public is told. Don’t trust your eyes! Nothing is what it seems! That’s the whole premise of “Terrified’s” knee-quivering appall, produced by Fernando Díaz under Machaco Films and the Instituto Nacional de Cine y Artes Audiovisuales (INCAA).

Rugna’s paces “Terrified’s” entropic buildout near the edge of an anthology, ghosting us the one reason for a neighbor’s supernatural experience for the next to eventually bring the heart of the cast together as a motley group of paranormal investigators. Starting with retired forensic specialist Jano who has a morbid curiosity for the unknown that fascinates him more than the abnormal mortifies him with fear. In his first feature length performance outside of television, Norberto Gonzalo understudies the very concept of the character Jano with objective eye for curiosity and knowledge much like any scientist. Jano is invited by Detective Funes, played by another television regular, Maximiliano Ghione, to the investigation of a recently deceased boy’s corpse having returned to his childhood home and is now a rigor mortis statue sitting upright at the dining room table. Though through exposition about their training and partnership over the years, Jano and Funes sit on the opposite sides of the fear spectrum with Funes’s engendered nervousness to the whole uncanny event and mentioning his bad ticker which comes into play later on in the story. Opposite side of the street, in walks into frame Elvira Onetto, an appropriate name for the film at hand. The “Jennifer’s Shadow” actress is Dr. Mora Albreck, renowned paranormal psychologist checking in on a manic patient who recently disappeared. Rugna really appreciates the mindset of the kindred spirits in Jane and Dr. Albreck with their sense of childlike giddiness toward the whole matter while those around them – like Funes or the boy’s mother – shiver with fear or break psychologically. While Jano and Dr. Albreck naturally work their way into the story, Dr. Rosentock is left with being the odd eccentric out. While just as enthusiastic about the phenomena that’s swallowed souls around the neighbor, Rosentock just appears as Dr. Albreck’s assistant who has traveled from a great distance to study…something like what’s happening…so is said in the film. Played by George L. Lewis in his only credited role, Rosentock is as much as self-assured, unafraid, and matter-of-fact as he is a caricature of old Hammer Horror style scientists when dealing with otherworldly entities, imposing a need for a little weight to his story, but, unfortunately, his participation lives and breathes only as participate to Albreck’s project. There are many fine performances around with the ebb and flow of minor characters, played by a talented cast that includes Julieta Vallina, Demián Salomón, Agustín Rittano, and Natalia Señorales.

“Terrified” is one of those movies where the silence and the stillness can have a higher affect on the spine-prickles.  Rugna’s gold standard patience establishes a tense tone without the supplementary tumultuous, ear-splitting chaos that usually grinds teeth and curls toes as the sediment of panic begins to settle at the pit of the stomach.  Marcus Berta and Lionel Cornistein’s blend of practical and visual effect are near seamless, but ultimately land the one-two knockout punch of anxiety-riddled scares with tall, crumpled monsters skulking under the bed shadows, glowing eyes peering through wall cracks, and a the stiffly rotten decomposing boy popping into frame in a split second.  Cornistein’s composite designs are not too shabby for the editor and visual effects artist’s first feature rodeo let alone generated a complex olio of otherworld oddities.  In regards to “Terrified’s” themes, in my travels to Central and South America, I’ve been advised to be cautious in drinking the tap water that’s filtered differently compared to the U.S., leaving local microorganisms to swim in the guts of those unaccustomed to them, and Rugna points in that direction by consistently focusing on the water taps, drains, showers, the action of drinking water, and, also, literally spelling it out for us by Dr. Albreck to not drink the water in these spirit plagued houses due to microbes traversing from beyond through the water system.  Dual perspectives becomes important as well.  After the gruesome discovery of the boy corpse sitting at the dining table, Funes needs a rational explanation to report in contrast to the unexplained grisliness, something that makes sense and wouldn’t frighten the daylights out of him, his colleagues, or the general public.  Coincidingly, Rugna creatures also exist on two different planes, sliding between the panes, and not always visible; this is another verbally illustrated facet that unsuitably reaffirms the theme.

“Terrified” scales the expansion of dimensions with bottomless creepiness and shock value, rifting from Shudder’s streaming service and right onto a UK Blu-ray home disc distributed by Acorn Media International.  The region 2, PAL encoded, BD25 disc houses a presentation displayed in a widescreen, 2.35:1 aspect ratio, with a 15 rating for strong horror, bloody images, and language. The 1080p, HD resolution is an indifference concern with the already blemish free digitally shot film, but director of photography, Mariano Suárez, heeds every shot taking Rugna’s perspective theme to heart with lowlight and obscurities as fear-fodder. The Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound mix flexes a full-bodied, channel defining muscle with clear, prominent dialogue, a diabolical range in sound design, good depth, and an off-key canorous soundtrack because every horror fan eats up an inharmonious and creep tunes. Unfortunately, much like the “Belzebuth” release, “Terrified” comes with no special features other than a menu with the animated trailer of the film. “Terrified” is the chef’s kiss of Latin American horror, an epitome of jaw-clenching terror that’ll have you sleeping with the lights on tonight.

Buy “Terrified” on Blu-ray (Region 2) from Acorn Media International!

EVIL Will Scrape You Clean Right to the Bone in “Scavenger” reviewed! (MVDVisual – Cleopatra Entertainment / Blu-ray)

A ruthless post-apocalypse world consists of killing others for their vital organs and sell them on the black market to earn a living or to score the next high.  The latter is the life Tisha lives as a bounty hunter assassin sustaining through a bleak existence of the next job and another hit.  When a new job brings her ugly past to the present, no payment is necessary as she gladly assassinate a smutty bar owner and brutal cartel head.  Things don’t go as planned when Tisha winds up naked on one of grimy sex mats of her target’s whore house after encountering and being seduced by Luna, the boss’s best laid side piece stripper and confidant.  The assassin must fight tooth and nail to survive on her filthy course to truth-hurting vengeance.

A complete ball of filth and fury is how I would begin to describe Eric Fleitas and Luciana Garraza’s sordid wrapped “Scavenger,” hailing from Argentina with wild west undercurrents in a post-apocalypse wasteland that makes George Miller’s barren lands look like Disneyworld.   Titled originally as “Corroña” in española,  the filmmakers also pen the violent screenplay alongside a third writer in Shelia Fentana to produce their very first feature length credit together that clocks in at 73 minutes, and 73 minutes is plenty enough to be entranced and be gorged by the anarchist sleaze, galloping gore, fast cars, and loose whores.  The trio financially self-produce “Scavenger’s” journey to silver screen fruition while Ronin Pictures provides special effects work that can rival the best independent productions. 

The role of Tisha is not a pleasant one, no role in where the protagonist being raped is pleasant to begin with, but to compound the character with a nasty drug habit, a gruesome vocation, traumatically scarred past, and be the objectifiable plaything for a bunch of society-fallen degenerates, Tisha’s fortitude had to be uncompromisable and her sensitivity dialed way down to zero in order to survive in her cutthroat world where not even your bodily organs are safe.  In steps Nayla Chumuarin, a fresh face Argentinian actress unknown to the majority of general audiences, ready to slip into a demanding role antithesis to Mel Gibson’s Max Rockatansky that’s only similar in a very few ways.  Geared in masculine attire, sporting a pixie cut, and gleaming with sweat and dirt from head to toe, Chumuarin offers up an intriguing anti-femme fatale in a more cold shouldered assassin vibe with a fast barb wired cladded car and who can handle herself around all types of antagonists, even those two times her size and are a disfigured mutant!  Tisha tracks down Roger, a brothel and bar owner who has ill-fatedly crossed paths with Tisha in a previous life.  Played by Gonzalo Tolosa, the mohawk-sporting Roger abides by his own set of rules unless they’re coming out of the sensual viperous mouth of Luna (Sofia Lanaro), Roger’s stripper girlfriend with a true sense of the femme fatale archetype.  Together, Roger and Luna call the shots and lust suck each other faces in the torment of Tisha who by the end of the film just wants to waste them both from the face of the post-apocalypse Earth.  Fleitas and Garraza purposefully and rightfully omit much of the backstories from most of the film and slide them in, crashing down like a house of falling cards, right on top of not only the characters but also the audience in a moment of realization and shocking truth from everything that has happened in the story up to that climatic end.  “Scavenger” rounds out the cast with Tisso Solis Vargas, Denis Gustavo Molina, Norberto Cesar Bernuez, Vanesa Alba, Rosa Isabel Guenya Macedo, and Gaston Podesta as the Mutant.

“Scavenger” is pure debauchery nonsense.  A gore loaded free for all.  The story is about as ugly as you would expect with the exploitation of carrion from those slowly succumbing to death in one form or another.  “Scavenger” is an entertainment juggernaut doused in corrosive material that will either disgust or amuse, depending on your temperament, with no middle ground to balance.  Characters are driven by unadulterated greed or rage, even the heroine of vengeance who just a few scenes prior stabbed a man in the back to harvest his organs, without one morally redemptive character to relieve the incessant current shocking the mind’s nipples with searing voltage.  Fleitas and Garraza slather in a laissez-faire fashion the exploitation veneer of grindhouse muck to serrate the unsavory snaggleteeth even sharper, but there are points where too much of a good thing becomes bad to the film’s health.  As such is with the licking of the face motif.  Like Quentin Tarantino and his obsession with closeup shots on female’s feet, Fleitas and Garraza shoot a handful of scenes of sexually engaged males lapping the sweat and pheromone droplets from the faces of their carnal conquests in all types of scenarios from rape to consensual.  The saliva wet, grainy muscle just slides right across the soft flesh covered cheekbone in more scenes that I cared to count in what seems more like a filmmaker fetish than an object necessary to overboard the obscenities.  It’s a weird action to call out but happens more than just a couple of occasions and between different characters.  The pacing’s fine albeit a few nauseating slice and dice editing that doesn’t take away or hinder in abundance understanding the progression of Tisha’s journey, but definitely causes a bit of blurriness on the heroine’s perspective of whether what she’s experiencing is a nightmare, a flashback, or a bad trip from whatever narcotic she withdrawals from that once injected speeds her into a kill monger. 

If what I’ve gone over doesn’t entice you, I can tell you this much.  “Scavenger” is perhaps the best Cleopatra Entertainment film release I’ve seen up-to-date.  The subsidiary of the independent record label, Cleopatra Records, Inc, in collaboration with MVD Visual release the South American grindhouse-fest film on a 2-disc Blu-ray and Compact Disc set featuring the film’s soundtrack, including music from Rosetta Stone, The Meteors, The 69 Cats, Philippe Besombes, Damon Edge and more with a full artist list on the reverse side of the cover liner along with alternate cover art of the film.  Presented in a widescreen 16:9 ratio, don’t expect a high-definition output with a homage to grain and a warm high-key contrasts to augment the desert outward show under the eye of Sabastian Rodriguez.  Negative space is only used for intense shadows to cloak the lurking menace around every corner.  There’s a variety of shots, including some great wide shots and crane angles, that sell “Scavenger” beyond the frenzy of blood-soaked and furrowed brow closeups.  There are four audio options available:  a dubbed English 5.1 surround and a 2.0 stereo as well as the original Spanish dialogue track in a 5.1 surround mix and a 2.0 stereo.  Unfortunately, the Spanish tracks do not come with option English subtitles so if you don’t understand the language, you’ll need to sit through the always awful English dub; however, this particular dub track is not obviously horrendous.  With all the Cleopatra Entertainment titles, the soundtrack sticks out like a sore thumb to promote their investments with high quality sound but also in true Cleopatra Entertainment titles, the lack of bonus features continue with “Scavenger” with only a theatrical trailer and an image slideshow.  “Scavenger” is a particular breed of film where you just flip your mind’s decency switch to off and gladly watch the world burn in depravity to get your jollies off.

Own “Scavenger” on Blu-ray and Soundtrack CD combo Set!

EVIL’s Greatest Trick Was Convincing The World Giallo Was Dead. “Abrakadabra” reviewed! (Cauldron Films / Blu-ray Screener)


In Milan 1951, a prestigious magician, Dante the Great, is tragically killed when a deadly trick goes wrong. Fast forward 30 years later, the magician’s son, Lorenzo Manzini, has trouble finding his own success following his father’s footsteps as a struggling magician. The night before his grand debut, a woman has been gruesomely murdered on the very stage his father had died. As a compulsive gambler and an excessive drinker in over his head in debt, Manzini goes on with the show, but the events following his performance inspire a grisly, sadistic murderer to uses magic tricks to kill and point all evidence toward him. Hounded by a mysterious, chain-smoking detective, a frantic Manzini must split his efforts toward his own investigation into the murders, but as the bodies start to pile up and the evidence grows even more against him, there may not be anything left in Manzini’s bag of tricks to prove his innocence.

In the old traditions of an Italian murder-mystery, “Abrakadabra” is the 2018 released giallo inspired film from the Argentinian filmmaking brothers, Luciano and Nicolas Onetti, along with Carlos Goitia serving as the third wheel scriber on the script. The trio have worked previously on one other project from 2017, another horror of course, with the haunted ruins premised, “What the Waters Left Behind.” With the Onetti’s being brothers, their collaboration runs deeper, sharing an affinity for the genre that has inspired the duo to collaborate on another giallo thriller, “Francesca” in 2015 and “Deep Sleep,” where Nicolas served as producer to Luciano’s writing and directing duties. “Abrakadabra,” as well as “Francesca,” are not only far cries from the haunting and terrifying reminiscence of the ruins in “What the Waters Left Behind,” but also varies in direction, cinematography, and production design that more in lines with giallo hallmarks, such as extreme closeups, awkward camera angles, and posh interiors. “Abrakadabra” is a production of the Nicholas Onetti and Michael Kraetzer New Zealand founded company, Black Mandala, and another Nicholas production company on a more localized level with Guante Negro (Black Glove) Films co-founded with brother, Luciano.

Despite being dubbed in a fine-tuned homage of an Italian overlay track, the actors involved are hail from South America, as where the film is shot. The story centers around Lorenzo Manzini, played by German Baudino (“2/11: Day of the Dead”), and Baudino shepherds Manzini toward the brink of desperation, spinning out of control from the malevolent forces that seem to be binding his hands to gruesome murders. Baudino captures the marks of the giallo fervor in his animated performance, especially when running through a memorial park with arms flailing and a streak of fear across his face, but since it’s a murder mystery swarming around Manzini, the magician’s encounters with other rich characters comes key to unravelling Manzini’s dubious circumstances. His lovely assistant Antonella (Eugenia Rigon), the lurking chain-smoking detective (Gustavo Dalessanro), and a hospice-housed convicted murderer (Abel Giannoni) become cryptic pawns that turns “Abrakadabra’s” into a deadly game of chess soused deep into the thralls of a calculated whodunit. The remaining cast, including Clara Kovacic (“Jazmin”), Ivi Brickell, Raul Gederlini (“Francesca”), Pablo Vilela, Alejandro Troman, and Luz Champane, are perhaps the weakest link in the chain to hold “Abrakadabra” back from being a well-rounded giallo. There presence seemingly come into the fold without much creditability to their substance toward the story are, some of them, are easily dispatched with the same loosy-goosiness that firmly dilute their characters.

You have to give the Onetti brothers tremendous credit. Their attention to detail techniques, production design, and overall wardrobe schemes accomplished a toppling feat in taking the natural aesthetics, textures, and sounds of an Argentinian setting shot film and transformed all the blatant aspects to resemble an Italian giallo filmed in Italy from the 70’s or 80’s. Yet, does the veneer alone make “Abrakadabra” a good giallo film or just an immaculate carbon copy? The Onetti’s certainly know enough to exact a perfect replica as seen in “Francesca,” which was my first experience with the Onetti brothers, but “Abrakadabra” is a step backwards form “Francesca” from a story standpoint with some mishmash editing and character underdevelopment around the midsection of the second act that immobilizes the story from going forward properly, leaving the lead character Manzini in a circular rut rather than a tailspin to the climax. The prologue of Dante the Great’s accident and the twist ending that harks back to a opening Harry Houdini quote, “What the eyes see and the ears here…the mind believes,” solidifies as the best riveting acts of the Onettis’ film that becomes equalized negatively by a drab dynamic interior. In any case and though an Argentinian production “Abrakadabra” is an invigorating slice of Italian cinema with razor-sharp characteristics and a well shrouded and gloved killer.

Open sesame on the inaugural, limited edition Blu-ray, release of “Abrakadabra” from the new genre distributor on the block, Cauldron Films, who plans to release a full slate of cult films from 70s and 80s in the coming months. Limited to only 1000 copies, the Blu-ray release will include inserts of promotional artwork, a limited edition high quality slipcase with original poster art, and a CD soundtrack with music by Luciano Onetti. However, I won’t be able to review in full the finished package or the audio and video qualities as this review is based off a disc screener, but I can tell you reaffirm that DP Carlos Goitia’s scenes are amazing well established, lit, and a glimpse into the past. The Luciano Onetti score can be invasive at times, but a pure product of the electro-synth rock that goes hand-in-hand with the giallo cinematography. Audio options include an Italian 5.1 surround sound, and an Italian and English 2.0 stereo that come with optional English and Spanish subtitles. Accompanying the unrated 70 minute film is the theatrical trailer and raw behind-the-scenes footage without subtitles. As Cauldron Film’s maiden release, “Abrakadabra” is anything but hocus-pocus with a bloody homage to Italian giallo films complete with a vital synthesizing soundtrack and a shocking twist finale.

“Abrakadabra” Available on Prime Video!

The Devil’s Greatest Trick is His Evil Being a Part of You. “Luciferina” review!


Natalie’s dedication to her religious vocation has led her to become a nun. Her celibacy is a symptom of disgust with her family’s household, a home the young virgin could not bear to live in another second or much rather return to that stems from an uncomfortable inkling of unnatural circumstance, but when she is informed her parents were in a tragic accident involving the death of her mother and a father bedridden by shock, Natalie reluctantly returns home. She’s greeted by Angela, her university studying older sister, and her delinquently dangerous boyfriend, Mauro, and alongside a few of Angela’s classmate, the decision to track down a shaman on an secluded island on the outskirts of town has convinced the group to seek alternative and holistic treatments, such as a brew made from the mystical Ayahuasca plant, to battle their own self-complications. What they discover is that some inner demons should be left untapped and undisturbed or else their souls will pay the consequence.

“Luciferina” is a black rites narrative saturated with psychosexual tendencies and religious divergences from writer-director Gonzalo Calzada whose horror mystery footprint, the Argentinian filmmaker’s common foundation for his prior work in “Resurrection” and “The Clairvoyant’s Prayer,” maintains a strong foothold for his latest venture from 2018 with a story of solid foreboding and overshadowing complication that’s naturally opaque, guiding viewers seemingly toward one direction and then obliterating their conjectures in an in a blink of an eye about how characters or events might play out. Layered with themes and heavy with motifs, Calzada summons the internal demon, figuratively and literally, from within an indie picture budget that’s complete with accidental demonic conjuring, eye-devouring effects, and a climax involving temple fornication of various Kama Sutra positions.

Young, beautiful, and, yet, withdrawn and plain, Natalia has embedded herself into nun-hood, a means to escape the unexplainable discomfort inside her own home and even in herself as she’s haunted by visions of a disheveled woman with crooked arms popping unnaturally out of a white nightgown, but not all of Natalia’s visions are bleak as she’s able to, at times, define a person’s gleaming aura during a momentary spell. Sofia Del Tuffo stars as the troubled vocational woman, a role that demands much from the young actress who can easily transition from a screaming and scared postulate to taking charge of her destiny by gripping Satan’s horns. Tuffo opposites Pedro Merlo as Abel who is, well, more or less a potential love interest. Abel has fire inside him sparked by his desire for Natalia, but goes full inferno after downing the Ayahuasca juice. The light and dark of Abel has Merlo flipping the script continuously and the actor keeps up with relative ease. The opinionated downside to roles Natalia and Abel might be lost in translation, but there’s a sense of disconnect between their multiple purposes: shaman visit, the unspoken connection for each other, and their intertwined destinies. These aspects go fairly unexplored or are either, in the script, diluted in the details. The supporting cast also don’t add volume to the story and though not all of the cast are like this, a good chunk are rather auxiliary for the moment of pinnacle prominence and their sub-stories are quickly squished – that’s the Gonzalo Clazada affect. The remaining cast includes Marta Lubos (“Darkness by Days”), Melena Sanchez, Francisco Donovan, Stefania Kossl, Gaston Cocchiarale (“Terror 5”), and Desiree Gloria Salgueiro.

“Luciferina’s” themes bubble quite easily to the surface, the more obvious found in the religious field, but an interesting theme is a woman’s protective, if not problematic, stance toward copulation and the guarded uterus and their right to chose. Natalia has no experience with sex and she’s constantly under the pressure of having sex, even inside the chaste nunnery. Natalia nonchalantly pushes away one of the boys in the nun’s drug rehab program with not much oomph, she then comes under siege by the forcibly accosting Mauro and his verbal rape fantasies toward his girlfriend’s younger sister, and then Abel’s internal struggle with his Faustian under guise who enthusiastically confesses his hard on to score with Natalia to bring forth more evil spawn. A common motif from the baby making is the uterus that pops up in Natalia’s dreams and her late mother’s frantic paintings that circle around the pressures of motherhood and as Natalia procrastinates under the semblance of saving her own life to further prolong her inevitable destiny, she comes to the realization running will prove for naught and becomes empowered. One thing weird in relation is not the uterus in itself, but rather the computer generated baby in the womb; the impression is okay in construction as the baby has some realism in the detail, but the adverse effect is the use of the effect that seems pointless and ostentatious.

Artsploitation Films and Reel Suspects presents “Luciferina” onto Blu-ray home video. The anamorphic widescreen, 2.35:1 aspect ration, presentation is quite sharp with textures and details in a lossless image. Calzada uses much of the natural coloring in daytime sequences and the night scenes are moderately bluish and director of photography, Claudio Beiza, has immense range and depth that provide astonishing interior and exterior backdrops that can be subtly pleasing. The Spanish language Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound substantially keeps with the tone and pacing of the story. Dialogue is balanced and verbose in the forefront. The release also comes with a Spanish language 2.0 stereo track. Both audio tracks come with English subtitles that saw minor issues with translation errors and timing. The only bonus feature available is the film’s theatrical trailer. “Luciferina’s” contemporary tale of possession and sexual innuendo is rabid. Director Gonzalo Calzada’s ambiguity of mystery horror is grossly engaging while “Luciferina” can also be glossy with splayed monstrous savagery and graphic sexual content, two genre commodities that churn easy entertainment.

An Ageless Evil Takeover! “Children of the Night” review!

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Alicia, a reporter working tirelessly on reports of missing children, receives a letter from Erda of Limbo, a haven for unwanted children located in an isolated area of Argentina. When Alicia arrives, she can’t shake strange inklings that the children’s faces seem familiar to her. Come to find out, all the children are vampires, created shamelessly by adult vampires, and now some of the vampires, some elder in age who are stuck in the body in which they were turned, live under the care of their human caretaker Erda. However, the children are not safe as vampire hunters have assembled around their serene community, lying and waiting to drive a stake into each of the timeless vampires. Their survival depends on Erda, Alicia’s reporting, and the 90-year-old grandson of Dracula himself. Though the community of vampires seek to reap the world of mortals as they have an apocalyptic plan to put in motion.

“Children of the Night,” also known under the original title “Limbo,” is written and directed by Ivan Noel and under the thumb of numerous Argentinian producers and actors, the mythology of Dracula lives yet again on screen. The film uniquely puts a different spin on the old Prince of Darkness tale, creating a jutting story that surrounds a scenario with Dracula’s bloodline kin. While the idea touches on the rarity of vampire children, contrasting with “Interview with the Vampire” or more recently “Let The Right One In”, there arguably lies missing pieces to Noel’s film to properly complete a story of this size and, perhaps, the microbudget hindered and faltered under financial stress rather than just becoming a medium of storytelling. For instance, much of the background on Erda’s writing to Alicia’s to travel to Limbo isn’t necessarily forthright and that feels neglected not on purpose, but rather feels neglected absentmindedly and financially.
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Secondly, the children characters vary in age and the girth of their long lives should have been explored more to develop more meaningful characters. Noel’s version bypasses many valuable characters and their traits to make the children of the night more likable, or hated, or something, because in Noel’s version, the children could live or die and not an emotion would be concerned. Noel does bring a certain enigma to children’s position in the world as we’re not totally convinced their evil or well-intentioned. Children caregivers are similarly forgotten when regarding their attributes. Alicia’s and Erda’s hemophilia condition is suppose to echo the children somehow, but the idea barely misses the cutting room floor completely and is only mentioned briefly upon Erda’s and Alicia’s initial meeting.
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The specials effects are minor, but effectively garnered. The majority of the effects shine through the second and third acts, especially during the all out bloody vampire hunter and children vampire brawl in an open field where children will be children and play with their food before slicing and sinking their teeth right into the necks in a blood splattering type fashion. I also thought the wooden stake on a rotating drill was a fascinating, if not very phallic. Along with this gruesome play yard greet and eat, comedy is sprinkled in throughout the duration, but some of the material falls flat; the comedy feels dated or obsolete, offering nothing new to that side of the genre. “Children of the Night”, simply put, is a vampire film with a feat of a concept, but the film lies at the fringe of being a horror-comedy that stirs up calamity with my critique about Ivan Noel’s semi-serious take on the Dracula mythology.

The performances are little to be desired for with the inclination that the actors, mostly involving the children, are being spoon fed dialogue or given cue cards, especially in more serious toned scenes. Dracula’s grandson The Count becomes the poor performance scapegoat. Child actor Lauro Vernon portrays The Count and his naturally sculpted ominous almond shaped and gloomy eyes, protruding upper lip, bronze skin, and lanky thin features creates a stereotypical creepy child archetype, but Vauro’s attempt to execute a Dracula-esque character, waning the powers of Dracula, is less expressive and more passive in deliverance. The Count in the script is powerful; one who oversees the children as a protector and a worthy warrior against a vast superior, well armed vampire hunting band of men, but instead the character weakly wanders from scene-to-scene even when his flock is being picked off and staked one-by-one.
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“Artsploitation Films” releases this 2014 Spanish-languaged Argentinian film on Blu-ray and DVD. The Blu-ry is presented in a widescreen 1.87:1 aspect ratio and looks fairly decent during daytime or lighted scenes with slightly noticeable ISO noise. However, with a film titled “Children of the Night,” night scenes more common and also reek more havoc on the quality as many of the night scenes maintain a blocky posterization with the digital film. Digital noise also plagues the digital film produced during low lit scenes, creating undefined shadows and blob-like shapes. Overall, “Children of the Night” has a fair share of budgetary quirks and flaws and the story loosely presents itself with an unclear and oddly edited lineage. Totally ignoring this release would be a mistake as producer, writer, and director Ivan Noel has fain under the limitations and manages to technically achieve a few great medium and long shots, though Noel seems to be attached to the closeup. Check out “Arsploitation Films” Blu-ray or DVD release of “Children of the Night” for another take on the mythology of Dracula!