Direct-to-DVD: 3 from Mike Mendez

When Don’t Kill It first started getting Internet promotion, I knew from the trailer it was most likely going to by my kind of movie, so I did a blind buy of the Blu-ray. As I was watching it with my hubby, I checked out the imdb page, and looked to see what else the director has made.

Mike Mendez is one of those horror directors whose name doesn’t get mentioned enough for me to realize I’ve been a fan of his films for years, right up to recent high profile films like monster comedies Lavalantula and Big Ass Spider!, as well as a segment in instant classic holiday anthology Tales of Halloween. But this blog is about 3 of his other films from my collection.

THE CONVENT (2000)

convent cover

My first blind buy of a Mike Mendez film was in the early days of DVD. The Convent became an instant favorite of mine. It’s like a knockoff of Night of the Demons with the camp of Night of the Demons 2 thanks to an appearance by Adrienne Barbeau.

A kick ass intro set in 1960 to Lesley Gore’s “You Don’t Own Me” (which didn’t come out until 1963 – it matters, dammit!) has a rebellious schoolgirl slaughtering a shitload of nuns.

40 years later, a goth chick in college convinces her friends to break into the abandoned convent where it all went down. Night of the Demons atmosphere collides with a late 90s post-Scream vibe as the kids make horror references, split up to explore and have sex, do drugs and trip out to “Dream Weaver,” and have a run-in with cops played by Bill Moseley and WHO?-lio. I mean…Coolio.

convent pentagram

A bunch of laughable poser Satanists have also broken into the convent, and when they try a sacrificial ritual, it actually works! Demon chaos breaks out immediately!

convent demon kids

The kids begin turning into gnarly demons that show some classic Night of the Demons symptoms plus neon highlights and that late 90s flickering head effect.

convent neon demon

There’s gut-munching, gore galore, jump scares, and hot guy bod during a BJ.

convent bj

Finally—the demon nuns arrive to wreak even more havoc as they hunt for virgins.

convent demon nun

And wouldn’t you know it—one of the main boys gets tied up with an effeminate Satanist who suggests they have sex so they won’t be virgins anymore, which proves to be even more terrifying than anything a bunch of demon nuns might have in store for him.

convent gay

And why wouldn’t it be, since this predatory gay Satanist is more excited about taking advantage of a straight boy than fearful about what a bunch of demon nuns might do to him.

convent nun splatter

Other than making a joke out of tired gay stereotypes (which lands this one on my die, gay gie, die! page), The Convent is fast-paced, fun and funny, and gets even better when the techno soundtrack kicks in and Adrienne Barbeau arrives to save the day with an arsenal of snarky one-liners and weapons.

convent barbeau blast

THE GRAVEDANCERS (2006)

 gravedancers cover

Back in the days of the After Dark Horrorfest, this was one of them. The Gravedancers stars Prison Break stud Dominic Purcell (Blood Creek, Blade: Trinity, Primeval) and Clare Kramer, best known as Glory on Buffy, but who looks so fricking much like Katherine Heigl in this it drove me to distraction.

gravedancers cast

Following a funeral, Purcell and his friends go to the cemetery while drunk and dance on some graves.

gravedancers cemetery

The beginning of this film is quite creepy, as Purcell and Kramer are terrorized by a female presence in their house. For a while, it feels like one of those remakes of Asian ghost girl horrors that were all the rage back then.

gravedancers sheghost

Turns out Purcell’s other grave-dancing friends are experiencing the same. Out of nowhere, two paranormal investigators show up on the scene to help them beat the curse. It’s a jolting shift in plot and tone, but if you just go with it you’ll be okay, because the movie becomes a fun combination of The House on Haunted Hill remake, The Haunting remake, and Poltergeist.

gravedancers monster

The group crashes for the night in a big old house hoping to stay safe until the period of the curse is over. So much for that. Before long, they’re being chased by a corpse bitch from hell…with an axe! It’s a little bit all over the place, but this is so my kind of stupid fun, loaded with scary atmosphere, freaky faced dead things, and a giant floating ghost head at the end.

DON’T KILL IT (2016)

 dont kill it cover

Based on the other two films I just covered, it’s surprising how long it takes for this film to shift into high gear. I’m talking almost an hour. But it was so worth it for me.

Don’t Kill It goes on my holiday horror page because it does indeed take place at Christmas time. In a small town, a human-hopping demon has been unleashed. If you are about to be killed by the person with the demon, and you kill them to save yourself, the demon will go into you. Isn’t that a conundrum? Kill or be demoned.

dont kill it demon xmas

Scream queen Kristina Klebe (Rob Zombie’s Halloween, Apocalypse of the Dead, Chillerama, BreadCrumbs, Killer Mermaid, Tales of Halloween) is the FBI agent on the case when townsfolk start mutilating each other. She’s also the perfect straight guy when dry-witted, hunky demon hunter Dolph Lundgren comes to town.

dont kill it leads

Naturally, she thinks he’s nuts at first. It’s slow going as they investigate and hunt for the currently demonic person.

dont kill it dolph bod

After a rapid fire opening scene showing how relentlessly the demon moves from person to person, leaving death and carnage in its path, it’s unexpected to have the film move at such a crawl, with only minimal demon encounters until the 56-minute mark.

dont kill it santa

And that’s when Don’t Kill It shows its full potential for its remaining 30 minutes. Dolph and Kelbe hold a town hall meeting to announce to everyone exactly what they’re up against.

dont kill it dolph shoot

In walks a demonic person with an axe! And this, kiddies, is why open carry isn’t a good idea. Sure, that fucker may start hacking up a bunch of people, blood and body parts flying everywhere, but if you whip out your gun and start shooting to be the hero, even if you’re a perfect aim and you get the guy with the axe, that fucker may have a demon in him that needs a new body. Now you’re a fucking demon with a gun shooting up half the fucking town, you dumb God loving, sheet wearing, sister marrying, pig fucking, redneck ammosexual.

dont kill it flying girl

Awesome. It is total fricking “DON’T KILL IT!” chaos from there, straight through the end.

 

About Daniel

I am the author of the horror anthologies CLOSET MONSTERS: ZOMBIED OUT AND TALES OF GOTHROTICA and HORNY DEVILS, and the horror novels COMBUSTION and NO PLACE FOR LITTLE ONES. I am also the founder of BOYS, BEARS & SCARES, a facebook page for gay male horror fans! Check it out and like it at www.facebook.com/BoysBearsandScares.
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