Che Gilson’s Netflix Roulette #22 – Dream Home (2006)

Join Che as she plays Netflix Roulette and watches a randomly selected horror film. Will it be awesome? Will it be torture? What horrors await?? Find out every month with Netflix Roulette!

Title: Dream Home

Year: 2006

Director: Amir Valinia

Starring: Chantelle Win, Cory Stills, Mia X, Chris Fry

Netflix Rating: 2.4 stars

Seen it before: No

First Impressions: The rating doesn’t look promising, but the director has done music videos, so I’m hoping at least the visuals will be stylish. The description says it’s a haunted house film. At least it better be. I’ve been burned before, and when the description starts going on about Dream Home being a subversion of the American dream… well, a crappy psychological thriller can’t be far behind…

The Verdict: That was really painful to watch. Horrifically cheap production values are the only thing that stands out in this poor excuse for a film. The acting is terrible, the dialogue is bad and the cinematography laughable. Which is alarming considering the director has five credits as a cinematographer. The film is also shot on video. And not good video, like soap operas. Crappy video that is only a few steps up from say, a 15 year old video of a child hitting a man in the balls with a baseball but infinitely less entertaining.

The script is also imbalanced. It’s 90 percent domestic drama by way of a real estate ad. There is a good twenty to thirty minutes of discussions about the house and how beautiful it is, and how much work did they have to put in and even a riveting scene in a hardware store buying paint.

The ghosts are just “actors” (which gets sarcastic air quotes for their underperformance) with no special effects, no make-up, no anything to make them ghosts aside from video tricks to make them dissolve into thin air. And I know I mentioned the bad acting, but it’s so unilaterally brutal, everyone single one of them is bad. No one is an actual actor, and if they are, this is probably their first and last film. Unless they watched themselves in this and realized they need acting lessons. And back to the script for a second, the dialogue repeats, ad nauseam. The characters go over and over, the same dialogue, explaining to each other the same plot points in slightly different ways over and over for entire scenes.

And after all this I haven’t gotten to the plot. Well, there isn’t much of one. It’s a stock standard haunting with crap ghosts. Young newlyweds, Darrell and Faye (Stills and Win) buy a Southern charmer of a house and set about fixing it up. But strange things happen the longer they stay, mystery cats, creepy old guys, dreams and weird old ladies. And then the movie doesn’t so much end, as just stop. It honestly doesn’t matter and no one cares.

Dream Home is the sort of film that makes you angry you watched it because it’s an hour and a half of life you’ll never get back.

Rating: 2/10

Che Gilson’s Netflix Roulette #20 – Stage Fright (2014)

rsz_stage_fright_posterChe Gilson’s Netflix Roulette #20 – Stage Fright (2014)

Join Che as she plays Netflix Roulette and watches a randomly selected horror film. Will it be awesome? Will it be torture? What horrors await?? Find out every month with Netflix Roulette!

Title: Stage Fright

Year: 2014

Director: Jerome Sable

Starring: Allie MacDonald, Douglas Smith, Meatloaf, Minnie Driver, Kent Nolan, Brandon Uranowitz

Netflix Percentage that I’ll like it (or rating): 2.4 stars. No recommendation on whether Netflix thinks I’ll like it or not.

Seen it before: No

rsz_stage_fright_1First Impressions: My deepest wish is that it will be a slasher musical. If my dreams come true that doesn’t mean it will be any good LOL! From the description it looks like a fairly standard slasher with the addition of musical theater camp. So I’m guessing it will be OK but nothing to write home about.

The Verdict: For once I was right! It IS a musical slasher film! And a darn well done one at that! It’s (unfortunately) a rare occurrence to be pleasantly surprised by a horror film these days. But Stage Fright was an entertaining romp through musical theater camp peppered with gruesome deaths and surprisingly good musical numbers.

Young Camilla and Buddy Swanson (played by Allie MacDonald and Douglas Smith) were orphaned as children when their mother, up and coming Broadway star Kylie Swanson (Minnie Driver) was murdered after starring in The Haunting of the Opera. Her manager Roger McCall takes the children in and raises them as his own. Camilla and Buddy now work as cooks at the theater camp Roger owns. When the camp season starts the campers embark on a production of The Haunting of the Opera, which meets the same bloody fate as the original.

rsz_stage_fright_2This musical meets slasher is original, funny, toe-tapping and gory. Pretty much everything that anyone could want in a horror film. It takes some nice twists and turns, and skewers everything from actor rivalry to skuzzy locals. Camilla is the rising ingénue, auditioning for the camp musical when she’s technically ineligible as an employee. Smelling a profit to be made though, Roger allows it. Buddy is disgusted his sister wants anything to do with show business and the snobby campers who snub them on a yearly basis.

The songs are unexpectedly good. Often a film like this has trouble walking and chewing gum at the same time, and the songs will suffer. But not this time. From the opening number sung by the campers, to those from the Haunting of the Opera, they are entertaining and fun. The gore effects are decent too, and there are a number of creative deaths which befall the unlucky campers during their annual production.

rsz_stage_fright_3As great as Stage Fright is, there are a couple of small nitpicks. The masked villain has only one rock solo toward the end of the film, but they flash on him several times earlier in the movie which would have been a perfect time for a rock song about what he wanted to do to the campers. Secondly, the deaths are all loaded into the very end, during the production of The Haunting of the Opera. I expected the deaths to be spaced out, more Sleepaway Camp style. Instead, after Minnie Driver’s death at the very beginning, the story of the camp takes over, and no one dies again until the climax. The intervening story IS good, so it’s engaging, but still loses sight that this is a slasher film, and therefore requires slashing to happen.

Still, the complaints are small and the entertainment is high! Treat yourself to this unusual and hilarious mash-up.

Rating: 8/10

Che Gilson’s Netflix Roulette #12 – The Vampire’s Coffin (1958)

Vampire Coffin Netflix posterChe Gilson’s Netflix Roulette #12 – The Vampire’s Coffin (1958)

Join Che as she plays Netflix Roulette and watches a randomly selected horror film. Will it be awesome? Will it be torture? What horrors await?? Find out every month with Netflix Roulette!

Title: The Vampire’s Coffin

Year: 1958

Director: Fernando Mendez

Starring: Abel Salazar, Ariadna Welter, Germán Robles

Netflix Rating: 2.8

Seen it before: No, I don’t think so, but I’ve seen an awful lot of old vampire movies…

Vampires Coffin 1First Impressions: Oh shit… buckle up for BAD dubbing! I had to IMDB this to find the director and it’s just as I feared. A Mexican B-movie which will be dubbed in English because Americans are too lazy for subtitles.

The Verdict: Huzzah! To my surprise and delight The Vampire’s Coffin was in its original Spanish! No bad dubbing to sit through. And what a difference it made to the performances. This assessment is based solely on other dubbed films from the 50s I’ve seen. MAYBE the dub for Vampire’s Coffin was good, but I sincerely doubt it. Anyway, on to the plot!

Dr. Mendoza (Guillermo Orea)steals the body of the vampire Count Karol de Luvad with the help of hired thug Barraza (Yeire Beirute). When Barraza removes the stake form the Count’s heart the vampire comes back to life to seek his revenge on Dr. Enrique Salvidar (Abel Salazar) and his girlfriend Marta (Ariadne Welter) who apparently put him in the ground to begin with. I say apparently because apparently The Vampire’s Coffin is a sequel. A lot of references are made to events in the earlier film. Luckily The Vampire’s Coffin stands on its own enough to be enjoyed without having to see the first one.

Vampires Coffin 2And by enjoy I mean only if you enjoy cheesy B-movies from the 50s. Because boy howdy, this movie has it all! Rubber bats on strings (that are still visible), cardboard set, props made of Styrofoam, ridiculously imperiled heroines who trip over nothing, and even the mandatory 1950s dance routine! A lot of the action takes place in a “wax museum” which is really a museum of department store mannequins dressed in funny clothes and wearing paper name tags. The entire movie is pretty bloodless. The Count de Luvad gets to bite a few people but the vampire bites on the victims neck’s are some of the funniest and badly done I’ve seen. They are also nowhere near a vein or artery.

Vampire Coffin other posterThe acting is surprisingly good for a B-movie at least where the main cast is concerned. There is a terrible child actor playing a patient in the very beginning. Luckily she isn’t in it much. But everyone else gives a great performance. There are even a few moments of genuine comedy INTENDED to be funny that actually are.

But all the cheese adds up to a delightfully bad film that richly deserves to be riffed on. This is another one I recommend getting a group of like-minded friends together, watch and mock all the way through.

Rating: 6/10

Che Gilson’s Netflix Roulette #11 – Harbinger Down (2015)

harbingerdownChe Gilson’s Netflix Roulette #11 – Harbinger Down (2015)

Join Che as she plays Netflix Roulette and watches a randomly selected horror film. Will it be awesome? Will it be torture? What horrors await?? Find out every month with Netflix Roulette!

Title: Harbinger Down

Year: 2015

Director: Alec Gillis

Starring: Lance Henriksen, Camille Balsamo, Matt Winston, Reid Collums

Netflix Rating: 1.8

Seen it before: No

First Impressions: The low rating is not promising and the description sounds exactly like Virus and or Leviathan, both of whom were just rip-offs of The Thing. This isn’t exactly a promising start, although I DO love a creature feature. So let’s find out if it’s good, bad or just plain ugly.

Harbinger 3The Verdict: Well that could have been significantly worse. Ever since John Carpenter’s The Thing came out it has spawned imitations like spare body parts. Most are terrible, the better ones are fairly watchable. And happy day, Harbinger Down falls squarely into watchable.

University student Sadie (Balsamo) along with fellow students and Professor Stephen (Matt Winston) are studying the effects of global warming on whales. They sign on board the Harbinger, an Alaskan crabbing vessel captained by Sadie’s grandfather Graff (Henriksen). Frozen in the ice they find an downed Soviet moon lander from the 80’s. The deceased cosmonaut inside is the product of human experimentation. The Soviets were trying to make a radiation proof astronaut using tardigrades. That’s right, tardigrades. The adorably fugly micro-organism also known as a water bear. Harbinger down is perhaps the one and only tardigrade based horror film in existence.

And you know what? It’s worth watching. Harbinger Down makes a better The Thing prequel than The Thing prequel. The ropey tentacular mutating Thing monster doesn’t look much like a tardigrade, which is actually something of a letdown. I was sincerely hoping for a giant tardigrade. But as the film explains that the tardigrades have been picking up extra DNA from the ocean and integrating it into themselves. Of course the tardigrade invasion begins with the super obnoxious Professor Stephen being infected. That’s the price you pay in a horror movie for being a cartoon villain. Things escalate from there as Graff’s crew and Sadie’s fellow grad students are picked off one by one by pink goo and tentacles with built in lighting effects.

Harbinger 2Yes, the effects in Harbinger Down are practical. Made by director Gillis who has years of experience in film make-up and FX. It’s kind of nice to see a creature feature with a practical monster but it definitely doesn’t bring anything new to the table and frankly looks cheaper than John Carpenter’s The Thing, a movie 33 years its elder.

Plot-wise Harbinger is also an almost blow-by-blow remake of The Thing (maybe homage would be kinder). Including icy weather and tentacles popping out of people, pipes, and mysterious shafts. Harbinger substitutes flamethrowers for liquid nitrogen and a ship for an Antarctic outpost. But the general spirit is there. The only thing the tardigrades didn’t do was try to build a spaceship.

The acting was surprisingly excellent. Lance Henriksen is perennial favorite in genre films. The other actors names might not be household words but that doesn’t mean they are novices.

There are more than a few unintentionally funny moments, everything from the goofy tentacles wired with LEDs to dialogue pulled almost wholesale from other movies. But the movie as a whole is entertaining, well paced and with more compelling, better developed characters than The Thing prequel (which is an admittedly low bar). One of stand-out characters is Svet, a hardcore Russian badass played by Milla Bjorn in what looks to be her first acting gig. Unfortunately I can’t talk much about her without spoilers.

Harbinger 1Yes Harbinger is derivative. But it’s derivative in a loving way and Gillis’ love for genre films shines through. If you’re looking for an original film this isn’t it. But if you want a few good laughs and a decent way to kill a few hours, give Harbinger a chance.

Rating: 6/10

Che Gilson’s Netflix Roulette #7 – Tales From The Crypt: Ritual (2002)

Ritual PosterJoin Che as she plays Netflix Roulette and watches a randomly selected horror film. Will it be awesome? Will it be torture? What horrors await?? Find out every month with Netflix Roulette!

Title: Tales From The Crypt: Ritual

Year: 2002

Director: Avi Nesher

Starring: Jennifer Grey, Craig Sheffer, Daniel Lapaine, Kristen Wilson, Tim Curry

Netflix Rating: 3.3

Seen it before: No

First Impressions: Well, it has a pretty high Netflix rating so it might be good? One can hope… And I haven’t seen Jennifer Grey in forever! Last thing I remember her in was a TV show called “It’s Like You Know” and she played herself. It was also after she had the nose job and didn’t look like herself anymore. And Tales From the Crypt movies can be hit/miss. Demon Knight is a favorite of mine, I saw it in theaters (as a double feature with Roman Polanski’s “Death and the Maiden”). But I digress. Let’s see if this good or not!

Ritual 1The Verdict: I hate movies that present themselves as being supernatural and then aren’t. This is what Ritual does. It starts off as a zombie voodoo (Obeah in this case) horror movie and by the end it’s just a murder mystery. And in between it’s just freaking long. And since it is a murder mystery I can’t even talk about the plot much without spoiling who the killer is.

Ritual is a long sit with tons of characters. A seemingly endless cast to keep track of. Characters appear in one or two scenes, then disappear for long periods of time only to pop up when needed most. Or they die.

So, the plot. Jennifer Grey plays Dr. Alice Dodgson who gets her license suspended for two years. In need of work she find a job taking care of the wealthy and ill Wesley Claiborne (Lapaine) in Jamaica. A murder mystery unfolds under the guise of voodoo shenanigans and in the end it turns out to be a painfully typical plot of land deals, money, inheritance, and double crosses. There is an especially despicable ending for the main “villain” which absolutely pissed me off. It’s supposed to be poetic justice but it’s gross and unnecessary.

ritual 2The bones of the film were sound. The performances excellent. Jennifer Grey is talented and so is the rest of the cast. Tim Curry is his usual sleazy villain, charming and a bit gross. No one turns in anything less than a great performance.

Strangely absent from the Netflix version of Ritual is the introduction from The Crypt Keeper. Which was a surprising omission. Though I’m not too upset, because I can’t take the terrible puns Cryptie dishes out.

There is some abysmal CGI effects that stand out. But on the whole the movie is solid. It’s just boring. There are too many things going on. Too many characters to keep track of. And it’s NOT a horror movie. It is a straight up mystery/noir. Is it wrong I found the most distracting thing in the entire movie Jennifer Grey’s six pack abs? Holy hell! Does she live at the gym?? Oh, and she’s lost none of her Dirty Dancing moves either.

ritual1345Maybe if my expectations had been different. Or the pacing had been better I would recommend this one. But it’s just too far on the lower end of mediocre. I wasn’t angry I watched, but I found myself frequently wishing it was shorter.

Rating: 4/10

Che Gilson’s Netflix Roulette #5 – The Omen (1976)

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Omen posterTitle: The Omen

Year: 1976

Director: Richard Donner

Starring: Gregory Peck, Lee Remick, David Warner, Billie Whitelaw,

Netflix Rating: 3.6

Seen it before: DUH!

First Impressions: Yay! A not sucky movie! I can’t even believe Netflix Roulette (the app) spit this out! And the link was working (for once!). I do not mind, in the least, watching this again. I will say that I had no idea Richard Donner directed this. So that was a surprise to me.

The Verdict: It definitely holds up. I read some of the Netflix reviews from viewers after I watched it and the main complaint from those who gave it a low rating was that The Omen is boring. And I think that’s a fair judgment as well, though I don’t agree. It’s a long movie with a slow build, but it all comes together flawlessly (or near enough).

Omen 1The main characters, mostly Gregory Peck and David Warner, spend the latter half of the movie trotting around Europe and the near Middle East investigating Damian’s true origins. The first half of the film is devoted to establishing Damian’s otherworldliness (or demonic child crankiness). He throws a fit to get out of going to church, get’s attacked by baboons and almost offs his mother. None of which is really special effects heavy. It’s a drama for most of the film then morphs into supernatural thriller. Though there are some fun and gruesome deaths! Who can forget their first nanny hanging herself in front of your fifth birthday party!

This is the sort of stuff that I really like. Horror that comes from drama and tension. Practical effect used well. There was ZERO need to remake what is a near perfect piece of film making. I saw the remake of The Omen (no, not in theaters) and I barely remember it. What stands out most is that Liev Schreiber doesn’t seem to move his mouth while talking…Good movies don’t need to remade because they can’t really be improved upon. Though if I recall the remake is shorter, so maybe it was made to appease the people who think the first one is too long.

Omen 2Now, a few pet peeves: Gregory Peck is WAY too old for Lee Remick, like seriously!! Also, Gregory Peck is not an action star. Today’s viewers are trained to expect really polished fight scenes from characters who may not be capable of them and I liked how crappy Gregory Peck was at fighting the nanny. Also, what is kind of cool is that by the end of the film, I was HOPING Gregory Peck would kill that little kid. And it’s good movie that makes you hope a five year will die by lots of stabbing. And if a nanny I didn’t hire brought a scary mean rottweiler into my house I would call animal control and fire her ass. Gregory Peck keeps telling the nanny to get rid of the dog but has no follow through.

Some things weren’t really explained and I never noticed until now, when watching it with a critical eye. The priest in London who warns Gregory Peck about Damian and later dies by impalement, was a minion of Satan. It says in the film that the minions of Satan all have a birthmark that looks like three sixes. So are you just BORN a servant of the devil? Or are there other options?

Omen 3It’s an iconic horror film and there is a lot to love about it. The moody atmosphere. The Satanic choir that sings in diabolical Latin. An on screen beheading, impalement, hanging, and packs of Satanic rottweilers. This movie seriously ruined rottweilers (who went on to become every hell hound in every movie in the 70s). The Omen is the sort of movie that never gets old.

Rating:8/10

Che Gilson’s Netflix Roulette – #3 Vile (2011)

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Vile movie posterTitle: Vile

Year: 2011

Director: Taylor Sheridan

Netflix Rating: 3.3

Seen it before: No

First Impressions: It looks like a rip-off of Saw. At the very least an attempt to cash on the torture porn fad. Not my favourite thing. At least it’s short.

The Verdict: Well, it wasn’t too bad. Which is the good news. It’s a pretty standard “strangers locked up together” with the fun twist of them having to torture each other in order to be freed. Mysterious people are making high potency drugs from the brain chemicals released during torture and the group of eight has to fill a quota or something will happen. No one knows what though. The group of eight starts off torturing one guy who one girl insists knows what is going on. She tortures him a lot and only the intervention of the others (and I think he passed out? I forgot already) puts a stop to it. They then come up with a plan to share the torture load so they can each contribute an even percentage of dopamine to the endeavour. Which would work if they weren’t total idiots and fell apart with infighting.

Vile 1I honestly didn’t bother to learn the characters names. But there is a core group of four friends on their way home from camping who get kidnapped and locked up with the rest of the cast. And OMG! shout out to the lady on the instructional video! You are awesome! And I would totally watch a movie just about you.

A couple things really bothered me about the movie. Number one, was how damn BAD they are at torture. Is it wrong to watch torture porn and think “I could do it better”? It really highlights why torture needs to be left to the professionals. They manage combine ineffectual with maiming. Neither of which torture needs to be.

Vile 2The second problem with the movie is: Don’t make a torture porn if you can’t afford the special effects. Seriously. A lot of the actual torture was off screen, conveniently blocked, or at one point, they cut to black! CUT TO BLACK. And all you hear are the screams of the one character who most deserved to be horrifically tortured on screen. As I said, this isn’t my favourite genre, but dammit, if I’m going to watch it I want some money shots. I’ve seen worse (or rather better) torture in historical dramas. The injury special effects are pretty mediocre too. Again, I’m guessing budget. But I don’t know for sure. Third degree burns are hard to pull off. Even second degree. No one gets the blisters right…

Vile 3There’s kind of a twist at the end. Which is the twist all these movies have. Well, OK, one of two twists all these movies have. It’s not really a surprising film. Nothing will blow your mind. But it’s not terrible. The acting is solid. Though there is so much crying from the ladies! Arg! I mean I’m not going to say I wouldn’t cry. But at some point, I don’t know why NO writer of slashers has ever said, let’s give the women some dignity. I mean at the very least they could have a guy cry, because sorry, pain is pain. And the threat of torture (especially really clumsy torture) is threat of torture. I just want the ladies to nerve up and get tortured without crying so much. Is that too much to ask?

And as this review has taken a weird, weird turn I probably need to shut up now.

Rating: 5/10

Che Gilson’s Netflix Roulette – #2 Rodentz (2001)

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rodentz1Title: Rodentz (AKA Altered Species)

Year: 2001

Director: Serge Rodnunsky (as Miles Feldman)

Netflix Rating: 2.5

Seen it before: No

Starring: Allen Lee Haff, Leah Rowan, Guy Vieg, Robert Broughton, Richard Peterson, Derek Hofman, Alexandra Townsend, David Bradley

First Impressions: So hardcore they spelled it with a ‘z’! LOL! Hmm… giant rat movie. And bonus! Giant psychic rats! I feel like this one has TV movie written all over it. I wonder if it ever aired on SyFy back when it was the Sci-Fi Channel? I also hope it isn’t just rubber rats. Let’s find out.

The verdict: Wow. Just wow. Warning – do not watch this film alone. Or sober.

Rodentz opens with lab assistant and college student Walter (Allan Lee Haff) pouring day-glow green chemicals down the drain. He has a long discussion with Professor Irwin (Guy Vieg) about sciencey sounding things that are mostly just a science word salad (‘auditory enzymes’ anyone?).

Rodentz2Meanwhile finals are over and a van full of other drunk college students, all of whom are too old to be playing college students, are on their way to visit the overly studious Walter and pry him from science’s boring hands so he can drink tequila (fruit punch) from a plastic jug with them. Shenanigans involving small killer rats, and one large killer rat ensue.

The plot is honestly not important. It’s a paint by numbers screenplay that the director simply filled in with bad dialogue, terrible acting and embarrassing special effects. There are real rats, fake rats, CG rats circa 2001, and the coup de grâce, a giant rat suit. A big giant fake rat suit. Let that sink a moment.

There was maybe twenty minutes of actual ‘things happening’ (to call it action is an overstatement) and the rest of the movie is padded out with driving, establishing shots of L.A. freeways (mostly the same stretch), more driving, science, bickering, driving, and shots of rats.

There is nothing to really recommend Rodentz. It is in a lot of ways hilariously bad. Poor editing, poor sound, poor acting and well, you get the idea. It’s bad from one end to the other. Even the establishing shots don’t match, and there are so many of them. Almost every scene change has an establishing shot of SOMETHING. Even the lighting gave up toward the end. Getting brighter despite a supposed power outage.

rodentz3The laugh-out-loud moments come at the expense of everyone involved with Rodentz. If the juvenile dialogue doesn’t get you the special effects will. It’s not scary, it’s not gory, it’s not interesting. But if you like to inflict terrible movies on your friends invite them over and spring this on them.

Also, the synopsis lied. The rats aren’t psychic. They just sort of act in concert once in awhile but it’s not really a thing.

Rating: 2/10

Che Gilson’s Netflix Roulette – #1 Act of Vengeance (1974)

Join Che as she plays Netflix Roulette and watches a randomly selected horror film. Will it be awesome? Will it be torture? What horrors await?? Find out every month with Che Gilson’s Netflix Roulette!

Act of Vengeance posterTitle: Act of Vengeance (aka The Violator, Rape Squad)

Year: 1974

Director: Bob Kelljchian

Netflix Rating: 2.8

Seen it before: No

Starring: Jo Ann Harris, Peter Brown, Jennifer Lee, Lisa Moore, Connie Strickland, Patricia Estrin

First Impressions: WTF? Is this even horror? It’s some kind of exploitation film for sure! I can tell that much by the poster. And the year. And the plot. And the era. Le sigh. Oh well, here we go…

The verdict: Ugh! Just ugh! Arg! Goddammit movie! Goddamn 70s! *Flails with rage*

Eh hrm. OK. I’m fine now. No I’m not. I lied.

First off the subtitle of this film should basically be Trigger Warning. So trigger warning.

Act of Vengeance is about five victims of a serial rapist who band together to fight abusive men and get revenge on their rapist after the police prove less than helpful. They deal with sexism, incompetent police, a stalker, a pimp, and a total lack of bras.

Act of Vengeance 2On one hand it’s a pretty basic 1970s revenge flick/exploitation film made to cash in on the popularity of the gritty vigilante craze. It’s certainly not one of the better ones though. The acting is mediocre to laughably bad with occasional bursts of competence. The music is cheesy saxophone style stuff that reaches levels of offensive as “sexy” tracks play over rape scenes. The directing is functional. It’s not confusing, the plot is simple enough that no one could mess it up.

But here’s the thing. First off the sexism is painful to watch. Made all the worse by the fact that it still exists and at those levels, making Act of Vengeance painfully relevant when in a better world it wouldn’t be. The police are terrible, but according to some of the Netflix reviews accurate to the time period. When Linda (Harris) goes to the police station to give her report, immediately after being assaulted, she is given no privacy, has to give her details to a male detective, gets ogled, and victim blamed. The police even bring the women in for a bullshit line-up and complain how hard their job is and how hard rape convictions are. And they still are. And the victims are still blamed. And this movie should feel more antiquated than it does. And the rape scenes are horrible 1970s rape for titillation made creepier by the sound track. A cheap and inexcusable excuse for showing breasts while trying to be serious? I don’t know. But it’s the 70s, so, boobs.

BUT, for all its sins Act of Vengeance is a silly grindhouse flick that makes some cogent arguments about victim’s rights and the empowerment of women. The women defend other women. Taking matters into their own hands, setting up a crisis hotline, taking karate lessons, and confronting men about their bad behavior.

Act of Vengeance 3The Netflix reviews are also very polarized. Some people love it, some hate it. Most of the hate is directed at the technical flaws like the acting, which I wasn’t expecting much from. The dialogue swings between ridiculous to serious, dropping a few f*bombs along the way. And Rapist Jack even gets to narrate his own life. No really. He goes around with a tape recorder planning his rapes and talking about himself in the third person. I couldn’t help but wish this were an episode of Criminal Minds, I just know there’s a diagnosis for Jack. Oh, and he has single-handedly ruined Jingle Bells forever.

If you like 1970s exploitation flicks there are far, far better ones to watch. Anything from Death Wish to Cleopatra Jones (one of my personal favorites) will serve you better.

Rating: 2/10