Tagline: Party Till You Drop… DEAD
Director: Joe Ripple and Don Dohler
Writer: Eric Martin Strauss
Release Date: September 25, 2007
Runtime: USA 85 min
Company: Timewarp Films LLC
Cast: Dennis Hill, Sara Cole, John Patrick Barry, Colleen Taylor, Ann Marie Barbour, Joe Ripple, Justin Timpane, Leanna Chamish, Benjamin Schyan, Angela Watson, Andrew C. Ely, George Stover
Favorite Line: “I like you better when you’re wearing the ball gag.”
Review: Many people who are regular members of a horror forum or website have probably thought to themselves what it would be like to meet other members and party with them. This is the premise for the film DEAD HUNT, directed by Joe Ripple and Don Dohler. Members of the horror web site HorrorDVDZone gather in a warehouse owned by the two webmasters who happen to be brother and sister. The good times are interrupted by a masked killer who is determined to make sure this is the last party any of the members ever attend. Soon enough they begin to fall victim to the killer in an assortment of demented ways. With each death (based on scenes from horror movies) there is a note with quotes. At first the members believe the quotes are lines from various horror movies, but as the body count rises, their true meaning become apparent. Just who this killer is and what the motive may be goes back to the website. Who will survive this night of death and bloodshed and who will the masked killer turn out to be?
This is an exciting and fairly original premise. I’m surprised there have not been more slasher films based on horror websites. The production value disguises the movie’s low budget origins. The film is also enhanced by a likable cast of characters of assorted ages. It is rare in a slasher movie to see such an age difference in the various characters. This is a welcomed change for those who are tired of seeing over aged actors playing teenagers. DEAD HUNT appears to have been made to appeal to an audience of all ages. The dialog is fun and never heavy handed. We are introduced to the characters and learn what their personalities are through dialog and action. It is authentic yet never boring. Although filmed in a limited space it has the look and feel of a much larger area. The decision to set the movie in a warehouse is a good choice. Very few, if any slasher movies have ever used this type of location. The only movie that comes to mind is the 1988 film Hide and Go Shriek which was set in a furniture store.
The deaths begin early in the film.This draws the audience in right away. There is some violence, but this does not appear to be the main emphasis of the film. However gore hounds will be happy with one particular death scene early in the movie. I thought the musical score was excellent. In the commentary, the directors mention that nudity helps sell a movie, but decide to not include any. While this may disappoint some viewers, the movie’s action, suspense, mystery, not to mention attractive female cast, make up for it.
The killer wears a black coat with a black mask covering his lower face with only the eyes visible. It’s a unique look, at least not one I have seen in a slasher film before.The only criticism I have with DEAD HUNT is the decision to let the killer have an active speaking role while perusing his victims. I myself prefer to have killers in slasher movies silent for the duration of the film only to speak during the revealing of the killer. However as a whodunit it does work because the killer is not obvious.It is a constant guessing game to figure out the killer’s identity and motive.
DEAD HUNT was released on a 2 disc DVD set. For a low budget film the DVD is fantastic. It is packed with features and the picture quality is excellent. Disc one has the feature film along with commentary from co-directors Joe Ripple and Don Dohler. They present a good explanation of the details behind the making of the film. They seem to genuinely enjoy their work. Sadly, this would be Dohler’s final film. He passed away on December 2, 2006.
Disc 2 contains a Behind the Scenes Featurette: an in dept look at the making of a low budget horror movie. This will appeal to anyone who is interested in the film making process.
Deleted Scenes/Alternate Endings: The deleted scene from DEAD HUNT was interesting, but the decision to remove it from the final cut of the film is the right choice. The two alternate endings are completely different from each other, but neither work as well as the ending chosen for release. Also included is a blooper reel, the trailer for the movie, and photo gallery. There is an Easter egg hidden somewhere on disc 2. I won’t give away its location but you could find yourself being drawn into finding it.
Final Score: 8 out of 10
Slasher fans should check out DEAD HUNT. Overall you won’t be disappointed. However you may think twice about attending a party thrown by members of the horror site or forums you belong to.
Guest review by Anthony Hartman (Kodiak Jack of The Bodycount Continues)
A whodunit slasher from cult indie filmmaker Don Dohler (The Alien Factor, Nightbeast)? I didn’t know what to think when I popped this movie in my DVD player. I’ve known about this film for quite some time now. The anticipation was intense. What did I think? I thought it was a wonderful, well-crafted (most of the time) slasher film.
What’s this movie about? It is the weekend of HorrorCon. The host of a website called HorrorDVDZone has invited ten of the best reviewers to a party at a snack warehouse owned by his family. The party is great! Great food and awesome conversation with horror fans. What more can you ask for? All of a sudden, the lights go out! After the host leaves to check the circuit breaker, the guests group up to find everybody. What they find is one of the reviewers dead and mutilated beyond belief! Next to his/her body is a little note with a random quote on it. While continuing their search for the host, they find yet another body with another note! Who is killing them? Why? Where is the host? What’s up with these crazy notes?
Okay, that sounds like a decent story. What about the characters? How is the acting? I was actually quite surprised by all the decent actors on this film. Dennis Hill did a wonderful job as Shawn ‘Slamdance’ Hammond. His character was extremely likeable and he played a great leader. He reminded me of Ben (Duane Jones) from Night of the Living Dead. But every leader has their opposers. In comes the delightful Joe Ripple ( who plays Nick ‘Slash and Burn’ Keller). His performance was definitely my favorite of the film. He’s the obvious middle-aged computer geek. He also tries to be the tough as nails hero. His sarcastic remarks and overall swagger is a treat to watch. Ann Marie Barbour plays Nick’s wife, Sari (not Sorry). She plays the nagging wife very well. I loved the chemistry between her and Nick. Sara Cole does a fine job as Laura Lansing, the sister of Dave (the host). I believed her and and rooted for her. Leanna Chamish (Fear of Clowns 2, Vampire Sisters) is a real life scream queen who plays the scream queen, Raven Rinaldi. She does a terrific job playing the panicked and paranoid Hollywood actress turned human. It was also great to see “Don Dohler Regular” George Stover in a small role.
While there was good acting, there’s always some bad to throw in. Angela Watson (who plays R.I.P.) just didn’t do it for me. One of her lines, “Now I like gore, but only the make-believe kind,” made me laugh out loud. John Patrick Barry (Blake) was on for the most part, but fell flat sometimes. Colleen Taylor (Aden) was also very inconsistent.
Acting, shmacting. Who watches slasher films for acting? Please tell me there is gore. Yes, and plenty of it too. You get a disembowled corpse, a couple slit throats, and some nasty cuts, stabbings, and bullet wounds. The guys behind the make-up effects did a very good job for the low budget. You surely will not be disappointed.
Awesome. But everyone knows the most important part of any slasher film is the Killer! I agree the killer is the most important part of a slasher movie. I have a feeling there will be mixed reactions to this killer. I for one loved it. Almost every killer you see in any movie are completely silent. Not this Killer! The Killer in Dead Hunt speaks freely and even sometimes has conversations with his victims. I’ve seen countless slasher movies and let me tell you, it was a nice breathe of fresh air. But sometimes, I felt the killer was just too goofy with his/her wisecracks and remarks. Don’t be thinking about Freddy Krueger. Its not even close to being that bad. Its just that I felt that it took away from the serious tone. Other than that, The Killer looked cool and was cool.
Is there anything else that would interest me? Well of course there is. For one, the setting for Dead Hunt is incredible. I’m a sucker for great locations and the snack food warehouse the filmmakers used was just awesome. There is no nudity but the girls in this film are real easy to look at. The music score from Justine Timpane (who also plays Matt ‘Hackmaster’ Hargraves) is just simply terrific. It sets the mood great and its really catchy. I’ve caught myself humming the tune every now and then.
The special features on the second disc are great! There is a Behind-The-Scenes Featurette that documents the production of the film. It runs about 45 minutes and I had a blast with it. Also included are some Deleted/Alternate Scenes, a Blooper Reel, a Photo Gallery, a very cool easter egg feature, and of course, the Dead Hunt Trailer.
Is there anything bad about this film? Oh yeah. The ending was an ending I’ve seen a million times in other movies. The visual effects weren’t the greatest to watch. I know this was an ultra low-budget film but come on; artificial smoke? There are a few minor twists on standard slasher “clichés” but sometimes I felt they were just trying to be too clever. I also thought the Killer’s motive was kind of lame, and the direction could’ve been better. I felt Dohler and Ripple could’ve used the warehouse more to their advantage.
Overall, I thought it was a highly entertaining whodunit slasher. It didn’t bring much new to the table – but who cares? The whodunit subgenre is around thirty years old. Most of everything has already been done. This is the best whodunit slasher I’ve seen in years and I highly recommend it.
I give it a 7/10.
Bill Hollister (Tuzo) and Anthony Hartman (Kodiak Jack) are regular members and posters at the superb horror forum THE BODYCOUNT CONTINUES (established by Joseph Henson). I’d like to thank them both for taking the time to review a movie I that could not (I worked on Dead Hunt). They are slasher experts and avid fans of the genre. By clicking on the banner above you can get the latest scoop on all things horror-related, as well as interact with other horror fanatics!