Dark Walker (2003)

darkwalker_1Starring Kathleen Taylor, Michael Sage, Rick Irvin, Brenda Matthews, David DeWitt, Emily VanSonnenberg, Clive Hawkins, Jill Small, Ali Taylor, Brad Potts, Ivan Glenn Hill, James Inch

Directed by Danny Draven

Expectations: Not much.

On the general scale:
onestar

On the B-movie scale:
twostar


I’m having a hard time solidifying my thoughts on Dark Walker. On one hand, it is in desperate need of a story for most of the movie, it’s shot on low-quality video, and it’s a slasher without the charm of the genre’s inventive kills and gore. On the other hand, it achieves a lot with its meager budget, including an interesting monster with great makeup, better acting than these films usually showcase, and some impressive & effective sound design. Both the faults and the ingenuity are a product of the film’s budget; in most B-Movies one side of this equation is usually in charge, but in Dark Walker both sides are about equal.

One night in 1878, a man sneaks into the Hobb’s Grove pumpkin patch. He cuts a pumpkin from the vine, ignoring (or not seeing) the sign that ominously warns, “Take not of this earth.” The earth means business, too, as shortly thereafter the pumpkin bleeds when cut and the Dark Walker, a hulking Swamp Thing-looking dude, busts in and kills the wrongdoing man and his entire family.

darkwalker_2Now that we know what the stakes are, the film transports us into the modern day, where the land is being developed into Hobb’s Grove, the haunted Halloween attraction. This is actually a real place near Fresno, CA, and the film shot some (or all) of its footage there. Some of the actors were apparently employees of the place, too! Anyway, back to the movie. It’s almost Halloween, so the owner’s of Hobb’s Grove are hiring a group of seasonal employees to get the place ready for the big night. Of course, as a horror movie, their season will be much shorter than they expect!

This setup is pretty classic slasher territory, but as I mentioned before, the lack of inventive kills/gore, and shooting on video, makes it feel too much like an amateur film than anything that even remotely recalls the good ol’ heyday of the slashin’ early ’80s. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this, but if the setup whets your appetite, it probably won’t be satiated by what Dark Walker actually delivers. If nothing else, at least the Dark Walker himself is fun.

darkwalker_3Unlike the plodding, unrelenting Jason, the Dark Walker is like a raging storm. His desire to kill his victims is as old as the earth he protects, and he pursues his prey with a furious energy. At one point, he explodes through a door with his rage level jacked all the way up to apeshit, smashing and crashing through anything in his path. For such an ancient evil, he must spend his off hours doing a lot of cardio. I loved this guy, and I wish the movie around him was better. If this was made in the ’80s (and thus shot on film, presumably with more gore), this would have had all the right elements in place to make for a real cult classic.

Proving my point further, Dark Walker also contains a fair amount of comedy, a well-used ingredient in the ’80s horror film. For me, these touches were mostly effective, too! That’s always a bonus. I really enjoyed the guy who lovingly oiled his chainsaw and named it Betty, but my favorite was the Sheriff (Brad Potts) who posed for photos with the Dark Walker’s victims in hopes of fulfilling his dream of appearing inside one of his favorite publications — Black Belt or a true crime magazine. Potts has shown up in a couple of more recent Full Moon movies, and I always enjoy his characters and performances of them.

darkwalker_4All of these good qualities caused me to be more disappointed with Dark Walker than I normally would be, because I could see the potential for a better movie peaking around the edges. If only they had some more money to sink into this movie that very few people have probably ever seen! It’s not all budget issues, though, as the story’s mystery and conclusion were far less exciting and engaging than I would have liked them to be. For all the problems, though, this is easily my 2nd favorite Danny Draven movie. Nothing has come close to topping the ridiculous fun of Horrorvision.

I’ll leave you with a couple of great lines from the movie’s goth character:

“I told you, I’m not a freak. I’m just a goth girl in a world of death.”

and “You know, they call orgasms little deaths. I want a little death tonight.”

Next time I get around to a Full Moon movie I’ll be watching the 1995 Moonbeam movie Magic Island, from director Sam Irvin. See ya then!

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