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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Alien Arsenal (1999)

alienarsenal_6Alien Arsenal (1999)
AKA Alien Weapons

Starring Josh Hammond, Danielle Hoover, Michele Nordin, Krisztián Kovács, Jerrod Cornish, William Vogt, Riley Smith, Dominic Catrambone, Stephanie Mennella, Chris Olivero, Robert Donavan, Brenda Blondell

Directed by David DeCoteau

Expectations: Moderate.

On the general scale:
twohalfstar

On the B-movie scale:
threestar


Pretty boys in their underwear with varying levels of acting quality? Must be time for another David DeCoteau film! Alien Arsenal is a loose remake of Laserblast, one of my favorite Full Moon films. Generally I’m against remakes, but Laserblast is the kind of movie that could definitely use some improvement. Don’t get me wrong, I love it just how it is, but it’s the ultimate “Let’s roll with this movie’s inherent shittiness and have a good time” movie. Sure, Laserblast has a massive amount of slo-mo explosions LASERBLASTS, blowing up everything from popcorn machines to bullies driving hot rods, but you have to wade through a river of shit to get to them.

For the most part, Alien Arsenal does a good job of taking Laserblast and applying a plot to the general premise. That’s right, Laserblast is largely a plotless film, strung together by nothing more than teenage rage and fiery explosions. Alien Arsenal retains the premise of a bullied teen acquiring an alien weapon, but the whys and the hows are much more than, “He finds it in the desert.”

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