I was a major impulse buyer of horror DVDs in the first ten years of their existence, so I have a soft spot for indie horror from the era. These three passed me by back then, but upon watching them, I made up for lost time and added them to my collection.
SILENT SCREAM (2005)
If you need a post-Scream era slasher fix, here’s one you may not have seen before, and it’s loaded with tropes that will make you nostalgic and bring you some retro comfort.
It’s all about the death scenes as someone in an Urban Legend parka runs around the woods killing kids.
To get the ball rolling, we see a quick cut of an early kill, but this is one of those annoying tricks used in slashers that simply don’t have an opening kill idea, so they show us a kill from later in the movie that we end up seeing again…later.
Then we get a group of kids in class agreeing to go on a research retreat with their teacher. They show up at a cabin in the woods and get killed off in a rapid-fire session while hanging out by a campfire. Quite satisfying.
Then another group of kids shows up late, can’t figure out where the first group of kids is, and then they start getting killed off. Double the fun.
That’s all there is to it. We see where the opening kill scene actually lands in the timeline, deaths scenes are replayed in sepia tone every time someone finds a body, and the kids start making really stupid decisions. However, those choices lead to some of the best battles with the killer, which does get you rooting for the kids.
The real “unique” part is the surprise twist at the end. It also might really piss you off. So I’d suggest that as you watch the movie, just keep telling yourself “it’s all about the slasher kills”.
THE SHADOW WALKERS (2006)
How I miss cheesy mid-2000s direct to DVD flicks that even found their way to SyFy once in a while. The revealing lighting in this one makes it obvious it’s a low budget flick from those days.
That bright lighting also exposes the low budget makeup work on the mutants in this silly flick—men in latex masks with the edges glued down to their faces and the “gnarly” colors and textures of their masks just ending at the neckline, where standard human flesh is on display.
But who cares? It’s cheesy mid-2000s horror! And the plot is as basic as it gets.
After an opening massacre scene in an underground facility, the survivors awake and have to go on a mission to escape—travel deeper down to reach an exit that leads back up, all the while battling humans that have transformed into monsters.
There are low budget chase scenes, battles, deaths, sex, and an occasional switch to all red lighting or all green lighting to create variation in the horror atmosphere.
Honestly, you don’t watch this if you’re looking for a thrilling horror experience. You watch this for a nostalgic fix.
FROSTBITTEN (aka: Frost Bite) (2006)
A year before 30 Days of Night hit U.S. theaters, this Swedish horror comedy focused on a small town overrun by vampires during the winter period in which there’s no sunlight for 30 days. Well, what do you know?
It begins with military men encountering vampires in a cabin in the woods during World War II—a scene that definitely sets the icy cold horror tone.
In the current day, we meet a mother and her teen daughter, who come to a small town so the mother, a medical doctor, can work in a hospital with a genetic scientist she admires.
Turns out the scientist is doing testing with a pill that turns people into vampires! Unfortunately, one of the med students thinks these red pills are fun stuff to bring to a party, so you know where this is heading. And of course, the mother’s daughter is going to be at the party.
There’s just enough dark comedy to keep this one mostly focused on the horror elements, and it sort of takes on two parallel stories as the kids become vampires at the party while the mother has to contend with a way cool boss vampire at the hospital.
This is one of those indie horror flicks that totally delivers on the fun, especially if you like creepy crawly vamp monsters that walk on walls and ceilings.