by Louis Fowler
Most weeks, I review more DVDs than the Indy can fit into print. You can look for extra write-ups here, on the IndyBlog.
Undead wannabe wiseguys? Gyrating, Satan-worshipping strippers? A budget that wouldn’t pay for one day’s worth of catering on a major film set? Yes, yes and yes! Sign me up! Independent Entertainment — IE to its fans — has dropped the soft-core parodies that have long been their bread and butter, and went back to what it did best: releasing wonderfully inventive, low-budget horror and action flicks that even Troma is too afraid to touch. The latest release is the devilishly fun Stiffed, about a trio of pseudo-Sopranos who, after a botched robbery, end up in the morgue. Luckily, one of the girls they tipped well at the local strip club is also an accomplished Satanist, who resurrects the boys. Undead and unhappy, they dedicate their newfound state to perfecting their criminal behavior. Pistol-packed with plenty of clever laughs, Stiffed is an offer you’d be hellbound to refuse.
I love finding and watching horror films from countries that’ve never produced them before. A few weeks ago, here in Cinefiles, I reviewed The Dead, the first African zombie movie. Now, we have Rabies, the first horror film from Israel. Unfortunately, the filmmakers must’ve also thought it was going to be their last one, because they have crammed so many ideas in here that, in the end, you’re just kind of left with a boring mess. A brother and sister flee from a psychotic killer in the forest, which is filled with mines, by the way. While that happens, a car carrying a group of tennis players breaks down nearby; they slowly turn against each other thanks to philandering forest rangers ... or is it something else? Is the forest evil? Where are the rabies I was promised? I don’t know. But it looks great, and even if these guys didn't know how to make them work, some great ideas. Mazel tov for trying, Israel!
In a world that is sorely lacking in female action stars, along comes former WWE seven-time champion Trish Straus, top-lining the adrenaline-fueled, action-packed smack-down Bounty Hunters. A trio of bail enforcers — no-nonsense Ridley (Frank Zupancic), ass-kicking Jules (Stratus) and comedic foil Chase (Boomer Phillips) — spend their nights tracking down the scum of the earth to make ends meet. When the opportunity to make $1 million by giving a low-level stool-pigeon over to the local mob-boss proves too tempting, things backfire, and the crew is in a run for their lives from mobsters, hit-men and kung-fu-trained massage-parlor hostesses. Delivering slick action, sick fight choreography and slight comedy here and there, Bounty Hunters is a digital era take on the early ’90s straight-to-VHS action formula that seems to have been shamefully forgotten; I would’ve rented this almost every weekend. But the real treat here is Stratus, displaying a great mix of charm and ferocity that should be up on the big screen. I hope she gets her chance.