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'Pretty Dead - 10 Horror Films'
(Cheryl Texiera, Richard Ryker, Kerry Wallum, Carly Oates, Glenn Plummer, et al / 2-Disc DVD / R / 2016 / Mill Creek Entertainment)

Overview: Terror Times Ten! Horror knows no limits in this killer collection of frightening films where nightmares become reality and the weak end up dead.

DVD Verdict: First up is 'Bunnyman' (2011), starring Cheryl Texiera, Matthew Albrecht, Alaina Agianci, Veronica Wylie, and Matthew Stiller. 'Bunnyman' is the harrowing story of a group of friends on their way back from a spontaneous weekend trip to Las Vegas. While driving through the remote regions of southern California they suddenly find themselves in a sickening game of cat and mouse with a five-ton dump truck. When looking for help they stumble upon a nightmarish family who takes pleasure in dismembering and eating as many of the kids as possible.

WARNING! If you're one of those people who shout at the screen every time a character in a horror movie makes a bad decision prepare to scream yourself hoarse. This movie has possibly one of the most moronic group of characters I've ever witnessed. Every decision they make is either the wrong one or just plain stupid!

Next up is 'The Lake on Clinton Road' (2015), starring Richard Ryker, Leah Jones, Stephanie Marrone, Matty Poslusny, India Autry, and Anthony Grant. When six friends from Massachusetts finish up classes for the semester, they decide to take a road trip to the Jersey Shore. A birthday celebration at a shore house will be the highlight of their summer, or so they thought. When they get to the house, they realize it’s not the beach house they were expecting. It’s actually in the middle of the woods off a long spooky road, Clinton Road.

This movie was simply awful! All of the actors suffered from varying degrees of amnesia when it came to knowing how to actually act. Despite every character being a part of a couple, when their girlfriend/boyfriends would disappear (as inevitably happens in a horror flick), no one seemed to care. At all. Judge for yourselves though.

Then comes 'The Lights' (2008), starring Kerry Wallum, Joe Estevez, Derek Lee Nixon, and Cathy Baron. Four friends set out on a road trip to catch a better view of an once-in-a-lifetime meteor shower. But what begins as a high-spirited lark soon turns deadly serious when the teens ignore the ominous warning of the local sheriff (Joe Estevez – Hollywood Confidential) and find themselves stranded in backwater Texas … locked in an evil game of cat and mouse.

This is strictly an amateur production, but it's very watchable. The score is mixed a little too loud, but technically everything is within reasonable limits. The FX are decent for an independent film, too.

That's followed by 'Pretty Dead' (2013), starring Carly Oates, Ryan Shogren, Quantae Love, and Emily Button. Life is great. Regina Stevens just passed her residence exam and her boyfriend Ryan proposed. Except for the medical impossibility that she shouldn’t even be alive - she has no pulse, no blood pressure and she hasn’t slept in two months. While attempting to unlock the mystery of what is keeping her alive, Regina, and a somewhat reluctant Ryan, discover a link between her conditions; a sudden ability to miraculously regenerate and new-found cravings for human flesh - cravings that intensify until she finally feeds.

The two leads do a passable acting job, but Regina's psychiatrist character is portrayed with some of the worst acting I have ever seen. The sound is horrible and the music sometimes is so loud that you can't hear what the characters are saying! Which, in hindsight, might have actually been a blessing!

The first disc ends with 'Monsters in the Woods' (2012), staring Glenn Plummer, Lee Perkins, Linda Bella, and Edward Hendershott. A micro-budget movie crew treks into the wilderness to shoot horror scenes for their unsellable indie-drama. They soon find themselves in the midst of their own real horror movie, as they are hunted by a large group of creatures.

Unquestionably the best moments in it are the sly little comedy lines and bits that are slipped in and will especially appeal to anyone who has ever shot a film before. This stuff is almost all genuinely funny and includes jabs at bad actors, girlfriends who want to be in movies too, stupid low-budget horror characters, comments by a black guy about black guys always getting killed first, a script girl being asked to fill in for a role when another actress goes missing but objecting to getting naked, etc. The second disc opens with 'The Sacred' (2009), starring Jessica Blackmore, Lauren Brown, David Mackey, Ryan Marsico, and Jordan Wall. A group of University students travel to a remote patch of land deep in the Florida swamps to complete their thesis project on Native American folklore. These grounds have the power to bring “sins” back to life, to bring the dead back to life, punishing and killing whoever is guilty of serious crimes.

If you like horror films then you'll like this one. I've seen a hundred movies that take students into the woods and start hacking them to bits before long but this movie had a nice twist to the usual elements. I saw this at a horror film festival and it, deservedly, won a bunch of the awards.

Along for the horror ride next is 'Backwater' (2013), starring Liana Werner-Gray, Justin Tully, Andrew Roth, and Thomas Daniel. Cass and Mark venture out into a secluded area of the country for a long weekend. After a mysterious scream and an encounter with lone fisherman and an odd deputy sheriff, they begin to think someone might be stalking them.

'Backwater' does give some classic grindhouse, indie style gore and horror which is all done mostly with practical effects. It never gets really into the visceral shock realm of the horrors, staying on the milder, but bloody side of the thriller genre. Still there is some good, and gory moments that hit hard, and entertain. Then up is 'Pelt' (2010), starring Ashley Watkins, Justin Welborn, Travis Goodman, Amber Marie Bollinger, and Sarah Zurell. Sudden, gory death hides behind every bush. When beautiful Jennifer and her friends embark on a backpacking excursion deep into the woods, they come chest to chest with an evil as old as the trees. Listen...above the crackling of the that the sound of a twig snapping or your best girlfriend’s neck? The interlopers discover that when the locals caution you not to trespass were warned!

If you like watching movies with a bunch of other people and mocking and laughing at an atrocious film, then 'Pelt' is the movie for you! 'Pelt' takes a cliché premise (young good looking people lost in the woods), adds in a list of no-names who ABSOLUTELY CANNOT act, who are forced to read some of the worst dialog ever written, and then films the whole thing on a store-bought camcorder!

'Sparrow' (2010), starring Faye Sewell, Thomas James Longley, Alexis Jayne Defoe, and Sarah Linda is next. Six friends plan a weekend getaway to "Camp Happy Dream" despite the campsite being plagued by a deadly urban legend. As legend has it, a machete-wielding park ranger named Sparrow, brutally murdered two people in fit of jealous rage, and is said to continue to roam the forest to this day. The friends’ disbelief in this urban legend is soon changed when strange happenings begin to occur to each of them.

While there are a good amount of jokes (and good ones) this is in no way a horror comedy, the jokes are quick and the kills are serious. Know and understand that going in and this is a rather decent horror flick.

Finally we're given 'Occupied' (2011), starring Liza Binkley and Lucy Bock. When free spirit Sarah, 21, goes to babysit her young cousin, it becomes apparent that the dangers that lurk outside the cabin pale in comparison to the perils inside. Triggered by unwelcome visitors, a psychotic break shatters the weekend. A psychological thriller set in the isolated redwoods above Silicon Valley.

From the off, 'Occupied' presents itself as if it were a horror movie. Ergo, a viewer could easily get the impression that something supernatural (rather than mental illness) is supposed to be the cause behind the distressing behavior. Both of the main actors play their parts well and the viewer gets an accurate depiction of what it's like to have a psychotic break and what it's like to be with someone who has a psychotic break. Beware though, not all is as it seems. These are all Widescreen Presentations (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs. Enjoy!