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Dark Reel
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Dark Reel More at IMDbPro »

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22 out of 25 people found the following review useful:

Uneven horror-mystery with some promising scenes and performances.

Author: capkronos ( from Ohio, USA
27 February 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Sometime in the 1950s, struggling actress Scarlett May (Alexandra Holden) meets a talent scout from Spotlight National Films, who asks her if she'd like to do a screen test for their studio. She's lured to a warehouse and ends up starring in a snuff film instead, getting strangled and then dismembered before the cameras. 53 years later, Spotlight National is still an operating studio, churning out B-movie titles such as "Gnome Killer," "Nightmare Slasher" and "Snakes on a Crane." Horror fanboy Adam Waltz (Edward Furlong - looking a bit rough and pudgy here), who has just followed his bitchy débutante ex-girlfriend all the way from Virginia to Los Angeles, wins a one-line walk-on roll in the studio's latest effort "The Pirate Wench," where he quickly becomes affiliated with the (mostly self-absorbed) cast of crew. Soon after, a masked killer starts bumping people off who are in some way affiliated with the studio. Who is doing it? Why are they doing it? And how is this connected to the 1950s slaying?

This list of possible suspects and red herrings is about a mile long, but thankfully the majority of actors they cast do a pretty good job and are fun to watch. Lance Henriksen gives a typically strong showing as troubled studio head honcho Connor Pritchett, who equates the murder of a starlet with free publicity. Tiffany Shepis gives a very appealing performance as friendly horror movie queen Cassie Blue, and even somehow manages to have some decent romantic chemistry with her co-star. Tony Todd is fine as an intrusive detective (but unfortunately gets much of this film's worst dialogue), as are Emmanuel Xuereb as the studio's head of creative development and Jeffrey Vincent Parise as an arrogant and pretentious director. There's also veteran character actor Tracey Walter as an obnoxious tabloid journalist, Rena Riffel as Todd's partner, Whitby ("The Dream Child") Hertford, Mercedes McNab (from the TV shows "Angel" and "Buffy the Vampire Slayer") and some other familiar faces. Unfortunately, attempts at making some of these side characters quirky and original come off as obvious and embarrassing much of the time, such as a secretary who annoyingly mimics everything her boss says, a foul-mouthed sound man who screams all of his dialogue and a lead actor who has bad breath because of his obsessive onion eating.

The flaws certainly don't stop there. Toward the end (huge spoiler here so skip to the next paragraph if you don't wanna hear this) the film becomes sloppy and the revelation of the killer's identity is basically a huge cheat. While the 1950s killer is pretty obvious early on, the current killer (predictably the son of Scarlett May) is played by an actor who looks like he's about 35, yet is playing a character who is 53 or 54 years old. The scenes parodying low-budget horror/exploitation film-making aren't clever or funny enough to really add anything of value to this film. Another aspect that I didn't think really worked is how the ghost of Scarlett returns to try to help Furlong's character uncover the killer. Her image superimposed over the Pirate film footage looked hokey and wasn't even really necessary.

So while this is a highly flawed film (particularly in regards to the screenplay and grating comedy elements), it still managed to keep my interest for the most part thanks to some nice directorial touches, a pretty good Badalamenti-inspired music score and a decent cast. Also good are the cinematography and the killer's mask/disguise. Though there is a little blood/gore (mainly at the end) and nudity, there probably won't be nearly enough of either to please exploitation movie fans. The opening sequence, which was shot in black-and-white, is stylish and very well done, is the best scene in the entire movie, and there's generally enough good here to make me want to see what else director Josh Eisenstadt may have up his sleeve.

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9 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

If you don't see this, you're not missing out

Author: Nick Damian from Toronto, Ontario
21 August 2009

That's's a bore.

Ahhhh, it be a very big bore. The cast is lacking so much. When the best performer is a horror movie actress who is best known for her screaming and baring her chest, then you know that the film is a drag.

Once a mighty well known actor, now looking quite sick or hungover - Edward Furlong is just awful to watch. His voice is a shriek in itself. His eyes are so puffy and his performance is so weak.

The script is like countless before it that are also weak.

Thinking of renting it? I think it's time to rent a good movie - like The Terminator or Aliens or best yet - Back To The Future.

At 1 hour and 40 minutes long, it's 1 hour and 35 minutes too long and the ending is rather dull.

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9 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

I really enjoyed it.

Author: david spates (davidspates) from Los Angeles, California
3 June 2009

If you are really looking for that classic horror slash comedy movie that you grew up watching with a group of friends in the theaters, this may be one of those movies. It's about time someone made a movie like this, it brought back some good memories. I was expecting cheesy acting, bad editing, and choppy sound but none of those things ever happened. I have to admit that originally I had no desire to watch "Dark Reel". The only reason that I even watched the movie was because my wife was pregnant and for some reason she had to watch it because of the title. To my surprise it was actually very good. No matter how hard I tried not to like it I still got sucked in. Now I'm looking for director Josh Eisenstadt's next movie.

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Deplorably bad

Author: NateWatchesCoolMovies from Canada
15 June 2016

Dark Reel is severely damaged goods no matter how you look at it. It sucks because there's some good ideas trying their best to flourish beneath a mountain of sludge, but nothing of any value can breech the surface of this purely shitty B movie with scant traces of a decent outing. It starts off with a black and white prologue that looks like the only part of the film that wasn't shot with an etch-a-sketch. Scarlett, a young aspiring actress, is lured into a dark abandoned set warehouse under the pretence of an audition, and brutally murdered. Fast forward about six decades, where a young groupie (Edward Furlong, looking like a sack of poo warmed over) wins a walk on role in a sickeningly trashy B movie monstrosity, starring a legendary scream queen (Tiffany Shepis, also a legendary scream queen in real life). It's not long before so,done with ties to the murder in the prologue starts skulking around the set after hours and hacking people to pieces in ways that are as tasteless as they are cheap looking. The film has one redeeming quality, if you are a fan: Lance Henriksen. He plays Connor Pritchett, schlock movie producer and general whacko. Lance seriously plays the part like he has no idea what the script is, making up verbal diarrhea on the fly, undergoing titanic mood swings and displaying the coherency of someone with serious issues. It's fun to watch him crash and burn, and even in the most awful poop material like this, he still shines, as bats@$t crazy as he is. There's also a cop played by Tony Todd who acts just as unstable as Lance, and Todd rides the wave of his awfully written dialogue and poor direction like a sheepish pro. This is literally one of the worst movies I've ever seen, and the funny thing is that it didn't have to be. The premise itself is great, and even on the couch change budget it was stuck with, they could have at least tried. But no, they threw in the bloody towel and instead of a gem or even an admirable failure we get this monumental piece of festering garbage instead. I had to keep myself occupied in any scenes without Henriksen by hitting half speed fast forward so the characters sound like chipmunks. It says a lot about a flick when you have to do that. Avoid at any cost.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Dark Reel - A real good college film

Author: drdeathforpresident from United States
3 December 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The first scene of the film grabs your attention; a man with no name who looks like a throw back from the 40's enters a bar and makes small talk with a damsel in distress. He worms his way into her heart and into his warehouse where he is directing her into her grave. The rest of the film is forced especially the acting except for the actor, Jeffrey Vincent Parise, who adds some life to this dead dud. Edward Furlong looks like he has been on a bender and needs to take a time out. Their is too much talking and not enough killing. I mean, come on, this is a horror film not a soap opera! Honestly, there is nothing to recall about this film. I did use the fast forward button a lot. Don't waste your time and effort.

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7 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

Pretty good if you like watching a drunk actor destroy himself

Author: Mat_Hadder from United States
19 March 2011

The plot: Furlong is a fat drunk that lives on a futon in LA. He apparently has no job and likes watching terrible horror movies. He is also creepy because he followed his girlfriend from Georgia or somewhere that has fake accents. At the beginning Furlong tries, but sounds like he's doing an Australian accent and then just drops it.

Lucky for him, he wins a contest and gets to be an extra in a horror movie (but it's a pirate movie?). When he meets the actors, they're all stuck up bitches except for the most famous one who falls in love with his doughy belly, jaundiced eyes, and puffy black sandbags that float under his eyes on that big chubby cheeked face of his.

At one point they go swimming together, but he won't take of his shirt because he has D-cup man-boobs. They then have sex and are in love. All the while everyone on the film is getting murdered and there are two cops (candyman and apparently a former prostitute) in all of LA that can handle the case.

Eventually nothing makes sense and Furlong is dark and mysterious and sexy and I totally bought the hot chicks interest in him. There's one good actor in the movie. He's an old guy and probably thought this was a serious film. He must be retarded because his dialog was apparently written by Christopher Reeves, after the accident.

I imagine this is how the script went.

Scene: Old man and candyman discuss the depths of man's soul while smoking Kools. Fat drunk actor meanwhile see's a dead women in the dailys. Hot chick loves fat drunk actor because he doesn't believe in showers or sleep. Ghost makes old man shoot himself in the head but the movie just will not end. Fat drunk actor who has sex with hot chick after being cast as an extra is suddenly a famous movies star and at the screening totally pisses of his ex-girlfriend and she makes a face like she farted and got poop got in her mouth. The curtain falls.

Overall I give it a ten.

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1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

What can i say?

Author: Rayman Al-Eryani from Yemen
1 October 2010

Thats Really A big big big flop. Acting is really awful you will feel like you are watching a comedy music is bad the killer looks so funny will make you laugh you will regret 2 hours of your life you wasted watching this movie like what i feel now that i'm wasting 10 minutes writing this post :) the only good scene in the movie is the first one this scene makes you feel like you are going to watch an amazing movie the movie depends on two bloody scenes and thats it. the funny thing is the scene when the producer was talking with an actor and he said "We are making money here who gives a s!!t about performance" it was like he is talking really about the movie it self :)

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4 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

Too boring to watch

Author: politehere from Tabriz, Iran
10 August 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I didn't even bother to watch the last 20 minutes. The movie is too boring to watch, not scary, and the plot is full of inconsistencies. Simply put, the whole plot is tasteless.

The characters act badly. The music score is bad. The killer looks totally ridiculous to say the least and the way she murders her victims is lame and awful.

I don't even see the point of watching this totally unwatchable movie unless you want to get bored to death. And yes, I'm a true horror fan, but come on......Why don't they put this into the comedy category rather than passing it as a horror film?

Avoid this title if you can.

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14 out of 32 people found the following review useful:

Tiffany Shepis' Best Work to Date, Decent Film

Author: gavin6942 from United States
14 March 2009

In the 1950s, aspiring actress Scarlett May is brutally murdered. Years later (2006), the crew of "Pirate Wench" is being slaughtered. What is the connection between these two events? Is there one? "Dark Reel" is a surprisingly good film, with a great ensemble cast and featuring the best work I've ever seen out of Tiffany Shepis. I love Shepis in pretty much everything she does, but I really think this one goes above and beyond her normal duties. Along with her, there's also decent performances from Edward Furlong (who is not aging well), Lance Henriksen (also some of his best work in years), Rena Riffel and Tony Todd.

I found the stand-out performance to be from Jake Grace, who plays the onion-loving pirate Rhett Johnson. I don't know if I'm familiar with any of his other work, but I loved him here. More pirate action, more onions, please! The special effects were good -- quite good -- when it comes to the blood and guts. Some of it didn't look all that real, but some effects -- such as a sword through the back -- were impressive. Everyone really came together on this film.

Not really sure what to say about this one. It's just really good. I can't critique it, because there's not much to critique, just a a solid horror story from beginning to end with plenty of mystery mixed in (good luck guessing the killer -- I changed my mind multiple times). Hopefully we see more things of this quality from this cast and crew. Oh, and "Gnome Killer 2"? Funniest movie I've ever seen!

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2 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Worst movie ever

Author: freefallin1309 from United States
29 June 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is the worst movie ever made, the sound guy must've been drunk considering all of the noises you don't need to hear that are there. The acting was sub par, Lance Henrickson has done much better in the past, ie Aliens and Millennium series. He must really need money to have taken this. Not only did Edward Furlong age badly and let himself go, but his acting was deplorable. The detectives and their cheesy attitudes did nothing to make it any better, the best part of the movie was the idiotic Rhett Johnson. Otherwise one of the cheesiest horror movies ever made, I want my $1.07 back for renting it. The sword in the back was horrid, absolutely the most fake job of stabbing someone I've ever seen.

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