This trend of making independent films that weigh heavily on top-billed horror icons is, in many cases, giving the spotlight to garbage and causing worthwhile horror indies to get lost in the stream-iverse. Which brings me to The Devil’s Dozen, Old 37, and Creeper.
THE DEVIL’S DOZEN (2013)
Yet another film in which a bunch of people wakes up, not knowing where they are or how they got there. They soon learn the catch; only one of them is a good enough person to get out alive. They just have to figure out which one it is.
So they sit around a conference room table with a gun and knife to expose each other’s evil ways. The movie falls apart with that very premise. Instead of everyone insisting they’re good, they all just pretty much confess the awful things they’ve done! HUH?
It doesn’t even really matter, because in their desperation, they randomly start killing each other. And every time someone dies, minutes later, the others realize the body has disappeared. Now, in a single room full of twelve people, by the time the third or so body went magically missing, wouldn’t you just keep your eyes trained on the next body to see how it disappears and where it goes? Yeah. That never happens.
Plus, one person needs to die every 12 minutes, or else. Or else what? Or else someone just dies. Seriously. Someone just drops to the floor dead if they don’t make a decision and kill someone in time. So why even kill each other? Not to mention, the film doesn’t really have any time-lapse cuts or edits, so these twelve-minute intervals all take about 2-5 minutes.
Despite being a terrible film with a terrible ending, The Devil’s Dozen is really watchable. There’s even some dark humor to keep things upbeat. However, the best, unintentionally funny line is when one chick realizes exactly what’s going on thanks to this stunning revelation: “We haven’t had to pee!”
The cast includes familiar faces like Jake Busey, C. Thomas Howell, Jeremy London, and Eric Roberts for about 2 seconds (as usual). But my fave was Erik Aude (The ABCs of Death, The Pain Killers, HorrorCon). He’s a studmuffin.
OLD 37 (2015)
A good premise and some cool horror icons aren’t enough to save this utter disaster. It falls apart almost as soon as it begins.
We are presented with a gnarly opening kill in which an ambulance driver arrives at a crash scene, kills a still-living victim, and then chows down on some of her wounds. Awesome.
Next, we meet a bunch of obnoxious, unlikeable, forgettable teens with no redeeming values—aside from the fact that most of the guys are hot and a few get shirtless. When they’re not boring us with CW teen show drama, these generic kids are being assholes with their cars so we’ll like them even less. And every once in a while, with no tension or scares, someone is killed, with the whole killer EMT part pretty much thrown out the window.
Just when it feels like nothing is ever going to happen, we suddenly get flashbacks of two kids who had a fucked up childhood, then Kane Hodder and Bill Moseley are introduced as some sort of backwoods brothers that run a junkyard. Next, we are brought to the realization that apparently there are only two forgettable main characters left…which finally gives us a clue as to which chick is the final girl. When she battles the brothers, we don’t care because we barely remember her being in the movie to begin with.
Finally, an example of how you can make a good horror film that stands on its own without any stunt casting. Creeper is a really unique twist on the rape/revenge grindhouse genre. When it first began and I was assaulted by a bunch of b-movie actresses rambling on and on about hating cyber creepers, I thought the film was going to go nowhere. But I was in for a major surprise.
See, the girls are so sick of being harassed online that they decide to randomly pick one guy to make their bitch—and then humiliate on social media. They begin video chatting with a big guy named Jerry, played by Darryl Baldwin. Darryl has been doing movies for years, but has really just begun dipping into the horror genre, as he should. It’s definitely his calling.
The girls easily entice Jerry into doing everything they tell him to, and even though he never speaks, his initial creepy demeanor turns oddly charming as he has fun with their initial demands—dancing around, spanking his butt, doing drag, dry humping a pillow.
But the girls are soon degrading him and commanding him to perform more hardcore acts on himself. And it starts to turn them on. Eventually, they decide to meet him for some live violence and cruelty.
Once they’re done with him, they get on with their lives. But now Jerry wants revenge. The girls are abducted one by one and wake up in the woods, where Jerry’s the hunter and they are the prey. This is when the girls really get a chance to show off their stuff—not only their naked bods (there’s a good deal of that), but also their worth as scream queens. They really pull it off.
Creeper perfectly captures the grit of classic exploitation films like I Spit on Your Grave, yet refrains from getting too disturbing. There’s something almost campy about it at times. One of the funniest moments comes when a stoner dude happens by during a chase scene.
And when law enforcement shows up, it’s grindhouse gore perfection as Jerry starts blowing them to smithereens (I giggled every time).
Um…he’s going to need backup.
Best of all, the revenge enacted on the girls is unique, plus they’re not going to just sit back and take their punishment. These chicks don’t fuck around. As a result, the tables keep turning and you can’t decide who you want to see win this fight to the death.