Review written by Shannon Larkin
So it was with much trepidation that I boarded the plane on my way to the “Rock N Shock” Horror Convention in Worcester, MA. You may wonder why a horror fiend like myself would have these feelings en route to a cool convention of this nature, right? Well in a nutshell, I was invited to a screening of “Army Of The Damned” by the lead actor in the movie, Sully Erna, who also happens to be the singer for the band Godsmack (which is the band I’ve been in for over a decade). So I’m thinking, “What if this movie sucks? What if HE sucks?!” He knows how much I’m into horror, and that I’ve been writing reviews for the mighty Bloody-Disgusting.com for quite some time, so that is why I had my fingers firmly crossed that I wouldn’t be let down and have to give my friend and band member negative vibes. Sooo…
After meeting Sully at the bar across from the convention center and having a drink (and seeing many familiar faces, family, and friends), I headed over to check out the booths and soak in the vibe of the convention before heading to the screening. As usual, I’m like a kid in a candy store, and getting excited for the movie. Finally, it was time…
I headed to the third floor of the convention center and joined the queue. While waiting, there was a satellite bar in line so I had another drink and was let into the screening room after a short wait. I must say I was let down by the fact that it was not a theatre, as I always pictured seeing my friend’s film with popcorn, a comfortable seat, a giant screen, and a kick ass sound system. There was none of that. That’s the bad news; the good news is, it was still fun, very personal (hearing the friends and families of the cast and crew cheering was a first for me), and the movie was well done. Without further ado, the review…
Right away, we get boobs, and get right into meeting our central characters starting with the small town sheriff played by Sully. A reporter (along with her camera man, played by Joey Fatone) is doing a story on Bridge (Sully’s character), when during the interview a call comes in to investigate a house. Let me just say here, the acting and characters are really good, and hats off to director (and screenwriter) Tom DeNucci, whose writing is crisp, well paced, and with a perfect amount of comedic relief sprinkled in as things get tense. So, we get some character development, and end up at said house where a family is discovered dead. Then strange noises (really loud) and lights (really bright) start the madness and the story develops as a little living dead girl is found in the house, and a neighbor who was a cop in the town decades earlier (played by the always interesting and legendary Michael Berryman) help to shed some light on exactly what the hell is going on in there. Meanwhile, the body count is rising as cops start getting killed off by the demonic forces being unleashed within.
For the low budget, this film looks and sounds really good, and although this was basically a one location shoot, Mr.DeNucci used a lot of different lighting and texture to create multiple feels, which made the overall look of the film seem bigger. The only negative was the CGI blood scenes, which were unnecessary and cheapened the look a bit. All of the practical effects were done well and a lot of blood ends up on the walls.
As our surviving local cops get out of the house, the back up finally arrives in the form of a badass swat-type police team led by the intimidating Tony Todd, who uses his presence and talent to boost the film up another notch. Again, hats off to the excellent casting.
Mr. Todd leads his team into the house after shooting down any supernatural mumbo jumbo Bridge and the others tried to warn him about. Bad move. The team is soon overcome and slaughtered by the growing number of reanimated dead cops and quickly start rising to join their ranks. As this happens, things take a nice turn as the growing army’s eyes turn liquid black and they begin to turn themselves into weapons through different types of self mutilation (for instance, one of them cuts off half his arm and shoves a sledgehammer in it’s place) which kinda reminded me of cenobites. They also eat human flesh, laugh maniacally, and are generally evil as fuck! This all happens pretty fast near the climax of the film, making the last 15 minutes or so an action packed nightmare. There’s a vague explanation given in a nice speech by Crazy Earl (Michael Berryman) about where this evil force came from before our heroes storm the house to take on the growing army of the damned in a bloody final showdown.
All said, this film has all the ingredients of a great B-movie, moves at a good pace, is well acted and directed, and ends with a satisfying climax. All the obvious clichés aside, it’s pretty original in it’s intent within a genre that takes a lot of heart and soul (as well as hard work) to create on a shoestring budget.
Did I give this film a more glowing review because one of the stars is a friend of mine for 25 years? Probably. But for anyone into retro-feeling, 80’s style independent horror that proudly wears the genre on its sleeve, this movie is for you. And me.
Definitely makes the collection.
Until the last time,
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