The Brotherhood II: Young Warlocks (2001)

Starring Forrest Cochran, Sean Faris, Stacey Scowley, Jennifer Capo, Justin Allen, C.J. Thomason, Noah Frank, Greg Lyczkowski, Julie Briggs, Ari Welkom, Holly Sampson

Directed by David DeCoteau

Expectations: Moderately high. The first was pretty good and I like David DeCoteau.

On the general scale:

On the B-movie scale:


I thoroughly enjoyed the first Brotherhood film, so my internal hype set me up to be somewhat disappointed with The Brotherhood II: Young Warlocks. Regardless of this, there’s no denying that the sequel is very entertaining. Anyone who enjoyed the first film is likely to enjoy this one as well. Both films follow similar structures, and I don’t know if the differences are distinct enough to build a sequel on, but both films are entertaining in their own ways and that’s what really matters, right?

The first Brotherhood is about vampires, so I honestly expected the whole series to be vampire-based. I don’t watch trailers or think too much about these movies before I watch them, but I guess I should have taken that Young Warlocks subtitle a little more seriously. The sequel’s mythology delves into witches and warlocks (but mostly just warlocks), and this is both brilliant and somewhat frustrating. I loved the secret society of the first film and I had hoped to go a little deeper into that. At the same time, the idea of a low-budget horror franchise based around a variety of college secret societies and their unique mythologies is wonderfully inspired and respectable.

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Micro Mini Kids (2001)

Starring Chad Gordon, Kyle Chaos, Jessica Taylor, Debra Mayer, Sam Page, Lauren Petty, Robert Donavan, George Cost, Tyler Anderson, Rhett Fisher, Colin Bain

Directed by Bruce McCarthy

Expectations: Moderate.

On the general scale:

On the B-movie scale:


Micro Mini Kids was one of Full Moon’s final kid-focused productions, and it’s a shame because it’s actually one of the good ones! The performances are fun and the characters are oddly well-defined (relatively speaking in terms of Full Moon). The FX sequences are also imaginative and enchanting (despite the seams being quite apparent at times). And probably most importantly in a film directed at kids, it teaches a nice double lesson of learning to accept yourself as you are, and that you shouldn’t assume you know what other people are thinking. The major stumbling point is that it’s very formulaic so the ending is obvious once the pieces are in place, but this doesn’t matter so much because the journey is fun.

Micro Mini Kids was started under the direction of the prolific David DeCoteau, but according to the IMDB trivia he left after only four days of production. Regardless of this, the film feels more like a DeCoteau film than anything else. The movie is credited to Bruce McCarthy but as soon as I saw the bodyguard duo in shades and black vinyl I knew DeCoteau was lurking around somewhere in the film’s development. No one ends up in their underwear, though; a clear sign that DeCoteau did not complete the film. 😀

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The Brotherhood (2001)

thebrotherhood_1AKA I’ve Been Watching You

Starring Sam Page, Josh Hammond, Bradley Stryker, Elizabeth Bruderman, Forrest Cochran, Michael Lutz, Donnie Eichar

Directed by David DeCoteau

Expectations: Low.

On the general scale:
twostar

On the B-movie scale:
threestar


The Brotherhood is a perfect example of a B-Movie that I would have never fully appreciated a few years ago. As a David DeCoteau film, it’s one of his most accomplished, and when seen right alongside the work he did for Full Moon around this time, The Brotherhood stands out as something unique. The films for Charles Band were work for hire, crafting movies for Full Moon as it tried to stay afloat in the changing video market. The Brotherhood was the film that launched DeCoteau’s own Rapid Heart Pictures, and its differing style and focus feels as if DeCoteau was finally making a film for himself (as a producer). This is a subtlety that would’ve remained obscured for me a few years ago, so I’m glad to have come to this pivotal DeCoteau film at just the right time.

In terms of general story, The Brotherhood is a standard tale about an innocent being drawn into the darkness. He is courted and converted as expected, but here it’s more about the specifics than the overall. This is a vampire story, but it replaces almost all the traditional vampire tropes with a brand new, enchanting mythology. Ritual elements figure prominently, and all the afflicted wear a medallion called a taltra (which means Eternal Hunter). It serves as symbol and identifier, as well as a functional purpose in their feeding rituals. Vampire films are fairly stuffy and stale at this point, but The Brotherhood is a wonderfully imaginative take on the classic monster. It’s also constructed in such a way that a great moral lays beneath the vampire angle, telling a tale of finding yourself in college and how falling in with a charismatic leader can define your identity (for good or bad).

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Talisman (1998)

talisman_1Starring Billy Parish, Walter Jones, Jason Adelman, Ilinca Goia, Constantin Barbulescu, Oana Stefanescu, Claudiu Trandafir

Directed by David DeCoteau

Expectations: Low.

On the general scale:
twostar

On the B-movie scale:
threehalfstar


Like a lot of B-Movies, the logic employed in Talisman is shaky at best. What separates Talisman from the pack, though, is how well-realized and enjoyable it is; multiple times while watching it, I thought, “Wow, this is legitimately a good movie!” I don’t think it’s quite there for straight-up mainstream people, but Talisman is far better than your average late-period Full Moon film. I’ve held off on watching this one because, for reasons I’ve forgotten, I thought it would be dumb, so it’s a nice surprise to find it’s actually a competently made picture from underrated low-budget maestro David DeCoteau.

Elias (Billy Parish) is a new student at the Gornek International School for Boys, a boarding school where troubled kids are sent when they’ve exhausted their last traditional option. Apparently, there’s only seven kids who fit this description, and judging by the dominance of Burke (Jason Adelman) over the “student body,” the school isn’t all that strict. They might have some strong disciplinary measures, like locking everyone inside their rooms at night, but the rehabilitation of these delinquent youths is obviously far from the minds of the staff. But whatever, this isn’t called Boys School, it’s called Talisman, so I don’t care if the fictional school makes sense, or is “doing the right thing for these kids.”

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Prison of the Dead (2000)

prisonofthedead_1Prison of the Dead (2000)
AKA Castle of the Dead, The Game

Starring Patrick Flood, Jeff Peterson, Sam Page, Kim Ryan, Alicia Arden, Michael Guerin, Debra Mayer

Directed by David DeCoteau

Expectations: Low.

On the general scale:
onestar

On the B-movie scale:
threestar


Prison of the Dead is a horrifically bad movie by traditional standards, but for B-Movie fans who venture into this early 2000s era, it should satisfy quite nicely. The potential for a great horror movie is hidden beneath the surface of the film’s low budget, and while that’s a bit frustrating, DeCoteau delivers with what he has at his disposal. This is the kind of movie that rewards the hardened B-Movie fan who has sat through hundreds of hours of drek, because with that kind of context behind it, Prison of the Dead is the cream that rises to the top.

A group of friends are traveling to view the body of Calvin, their recently deceased mutual friend from college. They haven’t all been together since the good ol’ days, back when they’d all investigate paranormal sites and myths, so their reunion is both exciting and bittersweet. And it’s about to get worse, because Calvin’s body isn’t in a normal mortuary, it’s in a castle built on top of a prison used by hardcore Puritans to imprison witches! You might think that’s no big deal, but one of the group has brought along a Ouija board to contact the lingering spirits. Within seconds of bridging the gap between worlds, a lion statue cries blood into the ground which then seeps through the earth and onto the corpses of the Puritan executioners.

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Beach Babes from Beyond (1993)

BeachBabesfromBeyond_1Starring Sarah Bellomo, Tamara Landry, Nicole Posey, Michael Todd Davis, Ken Steadman, Joe Estevez, Joey Travolta, Linnea Quigley, Burt Ward, Don Swayze, Jackie Stallone

Directed by David DeCoteau

Expectations: If I expect anything other than babes on a beach, I’m asking to be disappointed.


Estevez. Stallone. Swayze. Travolta. Names you know and love. Each one can carry a film on its own, but Beach Babes from Beyond contains them all… plus Burt Ward and Linnea Quigley! Beach Babes from Beyond was the first release from Full Moon’s off-shoot softcore comedy company Torchlight Entertainment, so they really brought out all the stops! The only catch is that the names belong to relatives of the stars you generally associate with them. So if you’ve ever wanted to see Patrick Swayze’s brother and Sylvester Stallone’s mom bickering in a spaceship cockpit, you’ve just found your movie!

Beach Babes from Beyond focuses on their daughter, Xena (Sarah Bellomo), and her friends Luna (Tamara Landry) and Sola (Nicole Posey). With Xena’s parents out of the house on holiday, the girls decide to take Xena’s dad’s prize “T-Bird ship” out for a joy ride, but wouldn’t ya know it, they crash land on Malibu beach! Meanwhile, Dave (Michael Todd Davis) and his friend Jerry (Ken Steadman) have come to the beach to visit Dave’s uncle Bud (Joe Estevez), in hopes of saving his beachfront home from redevelopment. The laws of film and nature demand that these male and female groups must come together for the greater good, and they do so with an insane amount of people wildly dancing on the beach and some sexy hilarity along the way!

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Dr. Alien (1989)

dralien_2Dr. Alien (1989)
AKA I Was a Teenage Sex Maniac, I Was a Teenage Sex Mutant

Starring Billy Jayne, Judy Landers, Olivia Barash, Stuart Fratkin, Raymond O’Connor, Arlene Golonka, Jim Hackett, Robert Jayne, Julie Gray, Scott Morris, Linnea Quigley, Michelle Bauer

Directed by David DeCoteau

Expectations: Not much.

On the general scale:
twohalfstar

On the B-movie scale:
threehalfstar


Looking at the poster, it would be easy to assume that Dr. Alien is nothing but ridiculous, low-budget trash. Even with that weird alien face, it doesn’t look especially interesting to me. But over the last six years of reviewing films here at Silver Emulsion, one truth has continued to resonate: Keep an open mind. It’s a good piece of advice in general life, as well; being closed off to the unknown corners of the world doesn’t allow for much personal growth. I’ve also come to look forward to the David DeCouteau movies, as they are generally some of the better and more interesting offerings among the Full Moon catalog. So I started Dr. Alien hopeful and optimistic, despite not expecting much.

When the film ended 80-some minutes later, with a big grin plastered on my face and my commitment to pursuing artistic, creative endeavors bolstered, I was shocked. Dr. Alien might be one of DeCoteau’s best films; it’s certainly one of my favorites. Sure, it’s got all the dumb jokes and female nudity you’d expect of an ’80s sex comedy, which will definitely turn off some viewers (and keep the film out of the Criterion Collection), but it is a real achievement on DeCoteau’s part to craft a film that satisfies on both a lowbrow and intellectual level. Perhaps I’m overselling it, as the morality only comes in at the end, but regardless, the film excited me thoroughly. I expected sex comedy and nudity, but to leave the film reinvigorated in my appreciation of art as a vital component of the human experience, that’s something special.

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