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Category:    Home > Reviews > Horror > Monster > Supernatural > Slasher > Ghost House Underground Series (Dark Floors/No Manís Land/Room 205/Dance Of The Dead/The Last House In The Woods/The Substitute/Brotherhood of Blood/Trackman/Lionsgate DVD)

Ghost House Underground Series (Dark Floors/No Manís Land/Room 205/Dance Of The Dead/The Last House In The Woods/The Substitute/Brotherhood of Blood/Trackman/Lionsgate DVD)

 

Picture: C†††† Sound: C-†††† Extras: C†††† Features:

 

Dark Floors C-

No Manís Land D+

Room 205 C-

Dance of the Dead B

The Last House in the Woods C

The Substitute C+

Brotherhood of Blood D

Trackman D

 

 

Lionsgate has always been a faithful distributor of horror flicks and has even had the good judgment to bring us some of the best of the genre over the past decade or so.Now they have gone so far as to start up their own horror distribution label, Ghost House Underground, and the eight titles they picked to kick off the label are nothing if not representative of the genre. They range from the very good (Dance of the Dead) to the very bad (Brotherhood of Blood) to the extremely middling (No Manís Land). Lionsgate also did not shy away from international fare, which is a fantastic idea considering the growing horror production in Europe and growing US interest in Asian horror.

 

Dance of the Dead: This film is by far the best of the lot. I list it first here so that if you read about none of the other releases, you will at least know about this one (though the rest of the list is in no particular order). This film is just about everything you want in a horror comedy. It has a variety of fun characters, romance, zombies, tons of body parts, and a deep appreciation for the inherent pleasures of any zombie flick.

 

No Manís Land: This film is without doubt one of the most average horror films out there. It combines ghosts, a serial killer, purgatory, a pretty girl on the run from her past, and a disconnected father-son relationship and stews them all together into one big lackluster hour and a half.

 

Dark Floors: This hospital horror is not much better as it tries desperately to be Silent Hill. Trapped in a parallel dimension, a variety of monsters that come and go, and the whole thing revolves around a creepy little girl, blah blah blah.

 

The Substitute: Now this Danish import is actually a pleasant surprise. While it does fall into the tired alien-teacher category, all the different elements (sweet tentacles, lots of chickens, floating orbs) come together to make a surprisingly entertaining whole. Just do yourself a favor and make sure to watch it in Danish with English subtitles.

 

The Last House in the Woods: Italian horror has a long tradition of out-doing American horror either in having stronger content (see: anything by Dario Argento) or by ignoring content and just packing in as much gore as possible (see: Anthropophagus). This film is of the latter category. While it borrows the Texas Chainsaw setup of a murderous family living in the boonies, the extent of the blood and gore (and other unknown fluids) in this film is enough to make anyoneís stomach turn, and I mean anyone.

 

Brotherhood of Blood: Take all of the things that make a bad horror movie bad, this film has got it. Crappy picture quality: Check.Poor camerawork: Check. Hack writing: Check. Horrendous acting: Check and double check. Despite the presence of two of the great contemporary horror icons, Sid Haig and Ken Foree, this film crashes and burns in so many ways, it is entirely irredeemable.

 

Trackman: Another film to avoid watching with English dubbing, even subtitles canít save this Russian film. A mysterious killer stalks a group of thieves and their hostages through disused subway tunnels. The monotony of the setting relieves this film of any opportunity to do anything visually interesting and an unnecessary twist ending doesnít actually explain or change anything about the rest of the film.

 

Room 205: After The Substitute set the bar for Danish horror on this label, Room 205 promptly fails to compare. A pretty standard ghost/slasher flick, this film is an adequate way to waste an evening. And you guessed it, donít even think about watching it dubbed.

 

The picture and sound quality vary by the film, generally in proportion with their overall quality. All the films are presented in 16:9 widescreen and Dolby Digital 5.1, except for Last House in the Woods, which is in Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo.

 

The extras also vary, but almost all of the discs have audio commentaries and behind-the-scenes featurettes. There are also additional short films, music videos, and featurettes on special effects, and deleted/extended scenes.

 

While some of these titles fall under the I-would-never-pay-money-for-that category, I think that Lionsgate made each selection with genre fans in mind. The worst of them, Brotherhood of Blood, at least has the big names; and the best, Dance of the Dead, has the potential to become a cult classic. By picking these eight movies as their launch titles, Ghost House Underground has made the very clear (and I think wise) statement that they are not going to act as arbiters of taste. They are simply out to put horror movies in the hands of horror fans. Personally, I look forward to what else this label brings us and I think that Lionsgate in general is a good company to keep your eye on.

 

 

-†† Matthew Carrick


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