I headed out to the local video store the other night (yeah in Portland we still got an amazing one called Movie Madness) to rent some movies, just like we used to do back in the good ol’ days. Let’s face it folks, sometimes it’s nice to take a break from the bland streaming services like Netflix and physically roam around a video store in hopes of stumbling across something entertaining. I decided this time I’d check out some new stuff I haven’t seen streaming out there.
First up was ‘Gags The Clown’ a movie I’d wanted to check out for quite some time now, being a Wisconsin native for much of my life & knowing this horror flick takes place in Green Bay (a place I’d personally hung out so many times in my teens & twenties) made this a no brainer rental. The cover art alone is pretty awesome and would look lovely gracing an old VHS.
Anyway I’ll be the first to admit, I’m not a giant fan of “found footage” horror movies and it’s been pretty played out these days in my opinion at least. But in this case I was lured in mainly because I’m just downright intrigued by movies made in ‘The Dairy state’. So the idea of ‘Gags’ was inspired by the whole creepy clown roaming the streets in real life viral video phenomenon a few years or so back. The interesting thing here is that creator of ‘Gags’ actually took advantage of this using his character to supposedly fool local Green Bay residents and the local news to report on it, eventually gathering up some worldwide interest in the creepy clown. A pretty brilliant marketing move to say the least.
So does ‘Gags’ deliver the creepy clown horror in a post cinematic “IT”/crowded clown horror movie landscape? I’d say it at least gives a legit shot at it. The basic story covers a night in the city where tensions are high and Gags has clearly been hanging around for sometime being all sneaky and spooky. The residents are freaked out and a small 2 person news crew is out to get to the bottom of the story. There’s also a local right wing gun toting “Alex Jones” type of podcaster who’s determined to hunt down the weird clown as well as a gang of annoying bro dudes obsessed with playing “clown pranks” on the spooked public.
I’d say the podcaster plot line was probably the most interesting and I kind of wish they’d have just picked that one to follow. Like most found footage films there’s lost of bickering among characters and lots of “normal” conversations that take up a lot of the run time, one of the things that sometimes gets under my skin about the genre. When Gags does appear though, which isn’t often, he’s indeed far more creepy than Pennywise in the latest IT. He’s utilized as more of a looming figure in the background, that seemingly disappears into thin air, with no known motive driving him. There’s some decent creep out moments in Gags, (maybe not as many as I’d for though) and just as I was starting to feel the found footage fatigue there came some pretty decent supernatural mystery thrown into the mix that reeled me back in through it’s unexpected and surprisingly shocking climax.
Luckily the movie had more going for it than I’d initially expected plot wise, but I still think it’d have been a more fun if they’d have avoided the found footage aspect and spent it’s time following the crazed right wing conspiracy podcaster guy through the night and pitted him more firmly in a fight for his life against the crazy clown. It could have benefited with more time spent with slightly more likable characters. Over all though I was pleasantly surprised with ‘Gags’, in the end it was a pretty ambitious indie effort that will likely deliver the goods for fans of found footage horror films.
Well next up in the video store my interest was peaked by spotting William Shatner’s big ol’ noggin on the cover of a movie called ‘The Devil’s Revenge’, It not only starred James T. Kirk but also Star Trek legend Jeri “Seven of Nine” Ryan & with a cover like this I was fully prepared for a stinker!
The Devil’s Revenge however proved to be a hefty dose of fun albeit a pretty damn stupid horror adventure, exactly what I’d hoped for. An archeologist heads down into some stunning underground caverns to look for an ancient relic but discovers that a gang of demons who look like they’re the opening act for GWAR have crossed over from a portal to hell. He heads back to the city to his family, has crazy hallucinations and creeps out his wife (Jeri Ryan) & kids. Confused he decides to pay his crazy gun obsessed dad a visit, of course played by William Shatner. Shat tells his son to grow some balls and go destroy the evil cursed relic or he’ll kill him dead right on his property for being a damn coward. I’m not kidding, that’s really what he promises, as we’re lead to believe Shatner’s got some super duper military skills and a heart made of cold, cold ice. It’s then basically a family affair here as the archeologist, his wife and teenage kids all decide to head back to the caves to destroy the evil relic themselves. Of course his family doesn’t really believe there’s demons the caves, they’re just in it for some fun family time adventure! Eventually things go over the top and yeah, of course Shatner shows up with a damn bazooka and well I’ll just leave the plot at that.
I really wasn’t expecting much here at all and The Devil’s Revenge is definitely NOT a good movie. However in the opening credits seeing it was co produced by William Shatner lead me to believe it might be worth a watch. I enjoyed the fact that for the most part it was played pretty straight which always is a pleasure with a film that’s got a damn plot as flimsy as this one. The real draw here of course if the foul mouthed tuff guy Shatner plays (keep in mind though his screen time is a bit limited). But that’s not to say the rest of the characters weren’t charming in their own idiotic way. The creatures were actually pretty cool too for the “man in suit” approach and some of the sets/locations were actually pretty impressive as well. There’s definitely some shoddy as shit CGI explosions but for the most part this little horror adventure was actually a lot better than I’d expected. If it had been made in the 1980’s it’d have likely been a cult classic and if you’re a William Shatner fan I’d say it’s required viewing for sure.