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The Gratuitous B-Movie Column: Grave Walkers

July 27, 2016 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz

The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Issue #368: Grave Walkers

Hello, everyone, and welcome once again to the internets movie review column that has never been attacked by a zombie wielding a rocket launcher, The Gratuitous B-Movie Column, and I am your host Bryan Kristopowitz. In this issue, issue number three hundred and sixty-eight, I take a look at the soon-to-be-released horror flick Grave Walkers starring Vladimir Kulich and Charlene Amoia and featuring an appearance by modern horror icon Tony Todd.

Grave Walkers

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Grave Walkers, written and directed by Ari Kirschenbaum, is a movie that I saw about half of last fall as part of the Scareacon film festival when the movie was known as Live-Evil. I liked what I saw of it but I didn’t really understand what the heck was going on. Now that I’ve seen the entire movie I can say that I still don’t really understand it, it’s weird as hell, but it’s still pretty cool and definitely something you should all track down and check out when it’s widely available.

The movie stars Vladimir Kulich as Pete, the sheriff of a college town that’s under some sort of supernatural siege on Halloween night. After interrogating some goofy twin smugglers (Mr. Eleven and Mr. Twelve, played by Ed Ricker and Carter aka Nicholas Carter), who are caught just passing through town, weird stuff starts happening. Random people start going batshit crazy, people start hallucinating, and some people develop a creepy as hell glowing eyes affliction. And Pete’s top deputy, Hancock (Charlene Amoia), arrests a naked woman with red eyes (Violet Calwhite) after finding a bunch of dead bodies inside of a mansion. Just what the hell is going on in this little college town?

After calling the FBI to come pick up Eleven and Twelve and having a freakout of his own, Sheriff Pete decides that he and his team are going to have to investigate the weird goings on in town. Deputy Hancock isn’t too keen on investigating without backup, but then backup is several hours away. And her fellow deputies, such as Sam (Vincent M. Ward, Oscar from The Walking Dead) and Eric (J. Richey Nash), just want to stay alive (and figure out what the hell is going on, too, because they’re more in the dark than Pete and Hancock). Everyone goes down into the basement of the sheriff’s office, where the holding cells are. The naked woman is there, as are the other people arrested after the weird stuff started happening. Suddenly, new weird stuff starts happening. Pete and Hancock and several others fall into a fog. And the crazy prisoners escape.

Pete and Hancock come to and immediately freak out. What the hell happened? Where did the prisoners go? And why are the smuggler twins still in their cell? It’s at this point that that Pete and Hancock ask the twins what was in the box they were caught smuggling and if they know what the hell is going on. The twins, as expected, refuse to say what they brought into town and what they’re up to (they also apparently have no idea what’s going on, either). It’s at this point that Pete and Hancock sort of admit that whatever is happening is something that they can’t fully comprehend and something that they may not be able to beat back by themselves. They’re going to make a go of it, though, and try to save the town before even worse stuff starts happening.

So Pete and Hancock head to the college to talk to a professor who specializes in archaeological bullhooey (Professor George, as played by Ira David Wood III). It’s around this time that the FBI agents sent to pick up the twins, Agent Campbell (Frank Saverino) and Agent Hawks (Tamara Farias Kraus), arrive. The FBI agents have no idea what to make of the strange goings on in town and quickly find themselves neck deep in the nastiness. The smuggler twins are no longer in their cell. Dead bodies are rising everywhere (and by everywhere I mean from the morgue, from the cemetery, anywhere a dead body might be). And more people have been infected with the glowing eye evil.

That, as far as I can tell, is the plot of the first part of the movie. The second part of the movie is slightly less plot heavy and, as a result, is easier and more fun to watch. That isn’t to say that the first part isn’t entertaining or worth watching. But the movie spends quite a bit of time trying to set up the second part and it does drag a bit. The first part of the movie is also in black and white for some reason. I’m assuming that the black and white is used to help enhance the creepiness of the glowing eyes and to help hide the different glowing eyes (some people end up having red eyes and some have green eyes), but the movie never really lets the audience in on what that’s all about. The movie also features chapter title cards, which is strange because the movie doesn’t, as far as I can tell, feature disjointed storytelling like a Tarantino movie. So that’s weird.

So what works? First, the movie looks good. The black and white scenes, while strange, are moody and creepy when necessary. And when the movie shifts to color the movie stops being creepy and becomes more of an action horror story. Second, the special effects are amazing. The glowing skull zombies are awesome looking and have the potential to become modern iconic horror monsters. And the CGI that’s used is generally good (the only iffy CGI sequence is the CGI barf that the annoying Dean Wilburn, played by Tim Ross, has spew out of his mouth. It just doesn’t look like barf). There’s also just enough blood and gore to make the gore people go “yeah!” I’m a big fan of the multiple bloody headshots that we see towards the end of the movie. The movie also features some bizarre humor that’s more prevalent in the second half than in the first. This humor may confuse some viewers, but I liked it. Some of the jokes I didn’t get but then that happens sometimes. It’s okay.

The music is top notch, especially the theme that plays over the end titles. It’s catchy as hell and, much like the skull zombies with the glowing eyes, should have a nice after life once the movie becomes widely available. I believe a person named Shawn Lee is responsible for the theme. Good stuff.

And then there are the performances. The cast is nothing short of phenomenal. Vladimir Kulich kicks ass as Sheriff Pete. You’re not quite sure how to take him at first because you’re not quite sure what’s happening to him. But then Pete becomes the full on lead character and you root for him to succeed. You also try to get into his head as he tries to figure out what the hell is going on. Kulich also has decent comic timing, which is a plus with the jokes on display.

Charlene Amoia is awesome as Deputy Hancock. She’s charismatic, she has excellent comic timing, and she also knows how to keep her sense of humor when things get weird. J. Richey Nash also does a fine job as Deputy Eric. He has a knack for reacting to the strange goings on around him and that’s fun to watch. The FBI agents, played by Frank Saverino and Tamara Farias Kraus, seem to be in a different movie at times, but their performances make sense by the end of the movie.

Vincent M. Ward gets to play both a seriously worried character and a sort of zombie and he excels at both. And the immortal Tony Todd, who shows up as a pissed off church pastor, has fun in his scenes. He doesn’t get to kill a zombie or anything, but he does show that he, too, can be a laugh riot when he wants to be (his “We just refinished!” line is hilarious).

The only performances that are hard to take are the smuggler twins played by Ed Ricker and Carter. I’m still not quite sure why they’re in the movie and if they’re meant to be sort of supernatural characters. I don’t think they are, but I feel there’s a chance that they might be. Rick and Carter are funny at times, but I just wish I knew what they were doing in the movie. Who the hell are they? What else have they done in their lives? What else have they smuggled in their lives?

Grave Walkers is a strange, weird horror flick. It’s probably a little too strange for its own good at times, it might have been a good idea to somehow make the first part of the movie go by faster, but, in the end, it’s a good movie and something worth tracking down when it officially comes out. Hopefully it’ll be out soon.

So see Grave Walkers. See it, see it, see it.

So what do we have here?

Dead bodies: Plenty.

Undead bodies: More than twenty.

Explosions: Several.

Nudity?: Yes.

Doobage: A wicked long opening titles sequence with creepy stone masks and whatnot, a shooting on the side of the street, a big mansion, a bunch of people wearing creepy masks for some reason, a coffin in a white room surrounded by blood, multiple instances of glowing eyes, guy stirring his coffee with a screwdriver, supernatural hooey, stomach aches, desk licking, fire arm collecting, a jail escape, slow motion head bashing, multiple shotgun attacks, dead bodies getting up and walking out of the morgue, attempted axe attack, several massive fires, bullet to the side of the head, a fucked up practical joke, a pastor that smokes, glowing eyed skull faced zombies with machine guns, kids fucking around with a dead bird, shovel attack, death by rubber mallet, smiling idiot on an exercise machine, zombies on motorcycles, an off screen sword attack, a hit and run, zombies transported by trailer, zombies with rocket launchers, multiple gory head shots, exploding lawn mower, a big church meeting, a massive explosion, and a strange ending that implies that there could be a sequel.

Kim Richards?: It depends on how you want to look at it.

Gratuitous: “And Tony Todd,” a Martin Luther quote, black and white, a female sheriff’s deputy wearing a knee brace for some reason, chapter title cards, a naked woman with glowing eyes, Vladimir Kulich, a nose bleed, a smoke grenade, a double shotgun attack, enthusiasm about architecture, Tony Todd, Tony Todd as a pastor that smokes, fireflies, smoky ash falling from the sky, a “Warning: No Bullshit Beyond This Point” sign, shooting Gary multiple times, CGI barfing, exploding lawn mower, and a strange ending that implies that there could be a sequel.

Best lines: “It’s Halloween, Sharon. It’s Halloween,” “One of these days, Sharon. One of these days for sure,” “You’re going to shoot me over a bottle of whiskey?,” “Listen you little bitch! I will break your ass in half!,” “If only you knew how little I care,” “Do the taxpayers know that you have a certifiable blood thirsty bitch on the force?,” “You don’t have any blow, do you?,” “You just killed Bill Barclay!,” “Monkey halves? You have monkey halves?,” “Aren’t you a big fucker?,” “So what? It’s an ammunition box,” “No! You eat me!,” “All right! All right, you little heathens, you’ve gone too far this time!,” “What is going on here?,” “You killed Gary!,” “You keep shooting Gary!,” “Zombies!,” “It’s the end of the fucking world!,” “Hey! We just refinished!,” “Hey! Get back to your dorms and lock your doors! I can’t believe I have to tell them that. God, I hate students,” “Are they going to eat us? I can’t deal with that,” “Thank God for the slims of the world, huh?,” and “See! They’re not fucking zombies!”

Rating: 7.9/10.0

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Things to Watch Out For This Week

Criminal

Criminal: I missed this sort of sci-fi action flick starring Kevin Costner, Tommy Lee Jones, Gary Oldman, Gal Gadot, Alice Eve, Ryan Reynolds, and Scott Adkins when it was in theatres, but then, based on its small box office take, so do most of you. It looked awesome, and it still looks awesome. Hopefully more people decided to give it a shot on home video. I know I plan on checking it out on home video.

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Hardcore Henry: This is another action flick that I missed when it was in theatres. It, too, didn’t exactly set the box office on fire, but I’d imagine that it will become a big deal and become discovered on home video and television. What still intrigues me about the movie is how a first person action movie can actually work. Can that perspective be sustained for ninety minutes? Anyone out there see this when it came out? Is it any good?

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I Am Wrath: I’m sort of surprised that this action flick starring John Travolta and directed by the great Chuck Russell didn’t get a bigger theatrical release. I know that it played at the Cinema Village in New York City the same week that Steven Seagal’s Asian Connection played there. Chris Meloni co-stars. Anyone out there see this? Is it as good as the trailer suggests?

Consumption

Consumption: This is apparently some sort of low budget horror flick about a group of people going into the snowy mountains of Utah for some reason and being attacked by some sort of killer cult of weirdoes. I’m interested in this solely because, really, how often do we see horror movies set in Utah? Rentable.

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Lazarus Rising: Eric Roberts, C. Thomas Howell, and Lenny Clarke are the “name” actors appearing in this low budget action thriller, so that makes it very rentable. The action stuff that you can see in the trailer looks pretty solid, and that’s always a plus when it comes to action thrillers about assassins, assassin teams, and political intrigue bullshit.

Listening

Listening: This is some sort of low budget sci-fi deal about a bunch of graduate students who invent a mind reading device, get caught up in a big hooha government what have you, and then have to find a way to save the world from total destruction. Or something like that. This movie has apparently won a bunch of awards and, for a low budget sci-fi movie, it looks great. I would rent it first, though, just to see if it lives up to its reputation. Check out that DVD cover. Who else wants that as a poster?

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B-Movie News

AvEDSeason2

Ash vs Evil Dead Season 2 to feature references to Army of Darkness!: As Ash vs. Evil Dead star Bruce Campbell explained here, the first season of AvED wouldn’t feature references to Army of Darkness because the show’s producers didn’t want to involve the AoD rights holders in the production of the show. The AoD would have had a say in the stories, the characterizations, and, most importantly, the money generated by the show. Now, as the fine folks at Screen Rant report, all of that “rights” stuff has been resolved and the second season of Ash vs. Evil Dead will be able to feature references to AoD. We don’t quite know what that will entail in the second season storyline, but I’d imagine that could mean we’ll eventually see some time travel stuff in the show, or maybe some of the medieval characters we saw in AoD will show up to do battle with Ash, Pablo, and Kelly against the demon zombies. Or, man, do you think the second season will set up Ash and company traveling back to medieval times just like in the Army of Darkness movie for season 3?

Man, September 23rd, 2016, can’t get here fast enough.

AssassinX

The new Olivier Gruner movie The Chemist now known as Assassin X and will hit home video on August 2nd: As an Olivier Gruner fan, I’m really rooting for him here with Assassin X. Gruner, who kicked major ass in the 1990’s and the early 2000’s with movies like Nemesis, Automatic, Mercenary, and Interceptor Force 2, hasn’t had much luck lately. Re-Generator was a disaster and Sector 4: Extraction wasn’t much better. Assassin X, though, looks awesome, and with Sasha Mitchell, Patrick Kilpatrick, Richard Grieco, Marshal Hilton, and Martin fucking Kove in the cast, man, it’s a must see. Sony Pictures Home Entertainment is set to release the movie on DVD and whatnot on August 2nd, and since I haven’t reviewed a Gruner movie in a good long time, I think I need to make an effort to check this out as soon as it’s released. Go ahead and check out the full story at The Action Elite and then be on the lookout for it on August 2nd.

Holy hooey doesn’t that look goddamn awesome?

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Who is this week’s Douchebag of the Week? Go here and find out!

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Next Issue: It’s actually going to happen this time! The Martial Arts Kid starring Don “The Dragon” Wilson and Cynthia Rothrock!

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Check out my review of david j. moore’s The Good, the Tough, and the Deadly here!

And check out my interview with the man hisself david j. moore here!

And check out the interview I did with the great Jino Kang here!

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Well, I think that’ll be about it for now. Don’t forget to sign up with disqus if you want to comment on this article and any other 411 article. You know you want to, so just go do it.

B-movies rule. Always remember that.

Grave Walkers

Vladimir Kulich– Sheriff Pete
Charlene Amoia– Deputy Hancock
Vincent M. Ward– Sam
J. Richey Nash– Eric
Frank Saverino– Agent Campbell
Tamara Farias Kraus– Agent Hawks
Ed Ricker– Mr. Eleven
Carter– Mr. Twelve
Ira David Wood III– Professor George
Tim Ross– Dean Wilburn
Karen Wheeling Reynolds– Sharon
Tony Todd– Pastor
Violet Calwhite– Evil

Directed by Ari Kirschenbaum
Screenplay by Ari Kirschenbaum

Distributed by Archstone Distribution and Tombstone Distribution

Unrated
Runtime– 95 minutes

http://tombstonedistribution.com/
http://archstonedistribution.com/
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