• A Review Page For Those Movies You Watch At Home!

    Couch Potato Movie Reviews is, obviously, a blog that exclusively reviews movies. What makes this blog different is the fact that all of the films we are reviewing are all movies that are available on home movie rental companies such as Redbox, Netflix, Blockbuster, and your quickly disappearing neighborhood rental store. This blog is designed to take a more detailed look at those movies that either were sent straight to DVD, received a very limited release in the theaters, or were distributed through the art house or film festival circuit. We will also review those big Hollywood films, but only after they are available for home viewing.

    All the reviews are written by fans of the great art of film making rather than some newspaper reviewer or stuffy film student. We don’t know everything about film but we do know what we like, and we are more than happy to share our opinions with you. What you do with those opinions are totally up to you, although comments are welcome and encouraged.

    Each film review has a one to five star rating at the end of the critique. Here is what those star ratings mean for you couch potatoes:

    * * * * * : Five stars: go and buy this one, don’t just rent it!

    * * * * : Four stars: put this at the top of your rental list.

    * * * : Three stars: average, not bad just not great either.

    * * : Two stars: only rent if you have to see everything.

    * : One star: don’t waste your time with this.

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TITLE: Darkwalker

YEAR: 2003

GENRE: Horror

One of the great aspects of independent horror cinema is when these small budget films breathe new ideas into a genre that Hollywood has made stale. Films such as May (2003), Bubba Ho-Tep (2002), and American Psycho (2000) all bring creativity and ingenuity into a genre that the big budget studios insist on creating sub-par products that feature recycled ideas and stereotypical characters to be consumed by young teenagers who no not know any better and older fans who are sick and tired of the same old psycho killers, ghosts, and monsters that go bump in the night. Nothing is worse than when the independent market which is supposed to be the creative arm of the film world delivers a formulaic horror film, and this is the case with the low budget California film Darkwalker.

Robert (played by David DeWitt) and Nancy Magee (Brenda Matthews) buy a lot of unwanted land in which they plan to plant their dream project: a haunted house attraction. Almost a hundred people are hired to operate the scare factory including a timid young lady named Maggie Laughlin (Kathleen Taylor) who keeps having evil premonitions about the actual plot of land. It turns out that the land does have a bloody past: the trees are protected by a creature known as the Darkwalker which kills any humans that destroy the land. As the property is bulldozed of all its trees and shrubs, the spirit monster becomes active and starts knocking off the haunted house workers.

One aspect that drives me crazy about Darkwalker is the usual group of teens that would never hang out together in real life that seem to be in every run-of-the-mill Hollywood slasher film. As usual, we have the dumb cheerleader, the token horny African-American guy, the moody Goth girl, the stoner always jonesing for a high, and the nice guy who is attracted to the obligatory cute virgin. It is also amazing that considering California is a haven for wannabe actors that Darkwalker could not find one thespian that has a shred of quality acting skills as the presentation of the characters is boring in almost all cases. The monster is acceptable although it is obviously a guy in a rubber suit (played by producer Chuck Williams). We also have the usual deaths as well, including a redneck construction worker eviscerated with a chainsaw while the monster swings the wood cutting implement around his head a la The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. It is difficult to expect much out of a film with only a $15,000 budget, but the Kool Aid-looking blood generously used throughout the production could have used more Karo’s syrup. On the positive the sets are pretty acceptable (actually filmed at a haunted attraction) and the cinematography is pretty good considering that it is probably high quality camcorders doing the filming. Some of the scenes do give a genuine scare here and there but anybody who has any experience watching fright films will see the Darkwalker coming miles before the kill shot.

Darkwalker did receive some infamous notoriety by inadvertently hiring twins Lamb and Lynx Gaede and their mother as the first family killed in the production: the Gaede twins were the core of the Nazi group Prussian Blue which used bubblegum pop music to spread anti-Semitic propaganda to pre-teens through their music and Myspace, and the subsequent press about the band brought this film less than desired news coverage. The bad press more or less ruined director Danny Draven’s potential career and he is now delegated to editing low budget trash for several independnet studios  Draven showed that he could work acceptably well with a small budget, but Darkwalker relies so heavily on standard stereotypes that it is impossible to take the project seriously or recommend it to die-hard independent horror buffs. Darkwalker is only for those who have to see every indie scary film that comes down the block.

* 1/2



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