A young man (Eric) returns home to visit his Grandpa and stirs up more than a few memories when he finds a silver spoon in the remains of a burnt out old house. Soon he is plagued by bad dreams concerning the murder of a young girl and her family, and people keep dying when he falls asleep.
The somnambulant Eric is possessed by the spirit of the dead mother of Julia, the eight-year-old girl owner of the silver spoon. It seems Julia lived close to Eric’s home, which was burnt to the ground by four men who robbed, beat and murdered her parents, accidentally killing the girl too. For some reason Julia appears to him as an adult with brunette hair although the child was blonde when she first appears (do they have Clairol in the afterlife?). In one sequence Eric tries to rape her, but instead decides to spend his eternal life with her and do her mothers bidding. The surviving murderers are all old men now so the retribution is less satisfying but this helps set the film apart from mainstream product. One of them is dead, but it doesn’t stop Eric digging him up and torching the remains. The only really satisfying death is that of the old pervert who gets off on planing his wood (Trust me, that is not a euphemism) whilst spying on his granddaughter in the shower. I won’t spoil it by giving the ending away in case you couldn’t guess the punch line but I do think it was a brave choice.
Originally known as ’Old Flames’ and ’Sleepwalker’ this film was produced, written and directed by two Wisconsin filmmakers, Don Adams and Harry James Picardi. Both of the original titles seem less inappropriate whilst VENGEANCE OF THE DEAD does tend to make people think it is a zombie movie; the present artwork on the DVD cover from Tempe Entertainment doesn’t help dispel that impression. The film is satisfying despite the lack of gore and shuffling corpses that you might otherwise have expected. Instead you are treated to fire suits and gasoline immolations.
VENGEANCE OF THE DEAD is notable for it’s slow measured pace and palpable suspense building up to a non-Hollywood downer ending. It is refreshing to see an indie horror that doesn’t resort to director name tributes and genre in jokes and tries to tell a powerful tale instead. There are a few points that could have been enlarged upon without slowing the film down, such as why the four killers committed the crime in the first place? And establish some of their identities beforehand. The sound and picture could do with being crisper as it does date the film, but ultimately proves a very well acted and directed ghost tale.
The DVD itself does have a large selection of extras on both sides, including an audio commentary, A short teaser trailer for an unfinished film ’Warwolf’, a short student film called ’SHRECK’ about a resurrected Ex Nazi serial killer fascinated by the NOSFERATU actor, ‘making of’footage and TV spots, and past footage of other films that helped get the two filmmakers started. Together with the extras this DVD release from Tempe Video proves a wise investment for low-budget horror fans.
Directed by Don Adams
USA / 2001 / 72 minutes.
SPECIAL DVD FEATURES
A Tempe Video DVD release
Region 1. NTSC. Dolby Digital Stereo.
VENGEANCE OF THE DEAD