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Reviews & Ratings for
Rites of Passage More at IMDbPro »

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28 out of 38 people found the following review useful:

The Art & Business Of Getting Your Indy Film Made

Author: Peteriliff-1 from United States
20 October 2012

Our little youth oriented popcorn thriller, Rites of Passage, was a labor of love by two best friends who had met while attending UCSB over 30 years ago. They decided to make a feature film, shook hands, and 9 months later we were on set shooting.

Having college age sons, both of us were fascinated with how aggressive and potentially harmful college life has become. Besides the stress of academics in a new world where jobs are scarce, there's The hook up sex, binge drinking, hard drugs. These drugs include the prescription drugs parents / doctors allow them to have, such as Ritalin to study, Zoloft for their depressions, and Xanax for their anxiety. Personally, as a recovering alcoholic with 8 years of sobriety, I am very concerned for these young people. Also, we live in a western society where there is no ceremony to mark the passage to adulthood, unless you are Jewish, or go fight a war. Our youth are left to wing it, get drunk on their 21st, whatever. My partner grew up fascinated with Chumash Indians because he grew up on a property that is an ancient burial ground. He has such respect for these California native Americans that we began to see a story we could tell.

We had a mantra. Four points for Success. 1) You need a burning desire. 2). You need a definite plan culled from the masters. 3). Eliminate all negativity. 4) Aliign ourselves with like minded people who share our dream.

We started by making a 20 minutes home movie that was shot on a $800 dollar camera and edited on my laptop. This little teaser movie illustrated the world and themes of the film. I would play this movie on my laptop at business meetings and we slowly raised our $2.5 million dollar budget with it. We asked top producer Mark Canton to join our team, and now we had credibility and his considerable know how to guide us. Thank you, MC.

Christian Slater was the first big name to sign on and we are forever in his debt. We had made a proper money offer to his reps, but after months of waiting, I got his cell phone number from a mutual friend, and I personally called Christian. He was very gracious. He read the script that night, as he had it in a pile on his desk, and Christian committed to the film the next morning.

As a first time director I called on every favor I had coming from industry veterans to assist me. Coming form a writing background, I was aware I am not tech savvy. We compensate for experience with preparation. I had a vision and my job was to communicate that to the pros in each department and then let them do their job. Our DP Alex Nevins spent weeks with me shot listing scenes at the actual locations.

The key to low budget filmmaking is to limit company moves. You burn too much time and money moving the crew from one location to the next. So we had to craft a film that we could shoot in one large multi purpose location. We used my partner's family rose ranch, with the incredible dilapidated greenhouses and the cottage overlooking the beach. We shot there for 4 weeks, and also shot 1week in Isla Vista - using the exact beach front "bowling alley" apartment where I had lived over 30 years ago. The students living there are featured in the movie and that enormous "Bong of The Gods" in the party scene was a something these student engineers had built.

I was paid one dollar to direct, while making a six figure investment into the production budget. This film, my very first, was a labor of love. We had a wonderful adventure and made lifelong friends. We overcame adversity and learned great lessons.

We are sad to see many Chumash Indians are angry over this film. They call me White Liar and a Cultural Prostitute. But all of us only have love and respect for the Chumash, and we worked believing our film was expanding awareness of the crimes committed against these native people. You decide if we were disrespectful. I don't believe we were. It is interesting to note we tried very hard to get a native American Indian actor to play the character of Dani. Three days before shooting, our actress fell out, and we had to scramble. Kate Maberly flew in from London as an emergency favor to me, but we had to rewrite the character to be half British, half Chumash. These are the kinds of headaches you deal with in film making. The key is keeping your cool. Just solve the problem. And keep moving forward.

The first half of the film is shot in a locked down style. But the last 40 minutes are all hand-held, to portray the sense of chaos and confusion the characters are going through. The great Elia Cmiral (Ronin) did the score. Crystal Method and Devastating Karate gave me their fabulous music for free - as we had no money left for songs.

If you are an inspiring filmmaker, I hope our little thriller inspires you to make your own dreams come true. Anything is Possible if your put your mind to it.

Peace and Love

W. Peter Iliff

We spent roughly $1 million on production, $1 million on actors, and $500K for post.

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7 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Total mess...

Author: Kolobos51 from United States
26 November 2012

Rites of Passage is a flawed piece of filmmaking about a college dweeb trying to prove his manhood to his peers by dragging two van loads of his peers plus a professor (played by Stephen Dorff in a nothing role) out on a field trip to his family home in order to observe ancient Indian land on his property and take ancient Indian hallucinogens.

In the meantime, his disturbed brother (Wes Bentley) is almost as obsessed with finding a woman as he is with Native American history. He, along with his deranged, grieving grounds keeper (Christian Slater), have been cooking, using, and selling the hallucinogenic flowers as well. Of course, it's bad news when these two unstable characters run up against a bunch of pretty young students, especially when a tragic coincidence turns out to link them in an unexpected way.

The short review of this movie is that it sucks. Essentially, it's just an overcomplicated dead teenager movie with an above average cast. In one of the few highlights of the movie, scream queen Brianna Evigan pops up in a smallish part and spends most of her screen time in her underwear. In fact, most of the actresses are either in their underwear or bikinis for most of the movie but there's no actual nudity. Not much gore, either. And the characters aren't remotely likable so this is the sort of movie where you're hoping for everyone to die but disappointed when the death scenes are generic, mostly bloodless and generally forgettable.

Rites of Passage is all over the place, silly, and kind of pointless. It's not really an anti drug movie, it's not hardly scary, and it's not often funny. The only entertainment value comes from Christian Slater's crazy, over-the-top acting as he scrambles around waving a shotgun, muttering to himself, and hallucinating. Basically, imagine Tucker and Dale vs. Evil made without any of the wit.

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18 out of 31 people found the following review useful:

Stereotypes, Bad Acting and General Crappyness

Author: weather21 from United States
22 October 2012

It starts with the poster being misleading I was hoping the movie would be cool like the poster. The poster is actually way better than the movie.

The movie is supposed to be about Native American stuff, however if you blink you will miss the parts that have actual Native Actors. This film reinforces some dangerous ideas about recreational use herbs as hallucinogenic drugs, Cultural Stereotypes about Native people and the objectification of women.

Native woman are 3x more likely to be raped than other groups. This movie glamorizes the abduction and assault of Native American women which is totally inexcusable as a substitute for entertainment.

This movie actually sucks to the max. The acting is shoddy and its a terrible misuse of Stephen Dorff's talent (which is huge) I am really bummed he was in this turkey. Nobody in this movie is even Chumash and they managed to P' off an entire tribe of Native Americans for this tomato of a film. Nice one, jerks.

DON'T SEE IT!! Save the popcorn for a better occasion.

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8 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

Overlong & not much to be entertained by.

Author: Prolox from Canada
21 October 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Having to post a negative review for films like this always leaves me feeling troubled, mainly because this one is a film debut for W. PETER ILIFF, who seems to have tried to make one of the best horror/comedies he could, unfortunately he didn't succeed, as RITES OF PASSAGE (I saw it under the highly unfavourable title of CREEPERS) is an overall overly long & silly film that quickly wears out it's welcome about midway. The film has no scares & although I enjoyed the banter between the crazy trying to kill the kids & a stuffed monkey whom he has tied to his shotgun, overall the film was a complete dud. The film is only partially well acted, usually from the leads & although Peter fares well behind the camera, he still has to learn that pacing is everything & in this case Rites really drags on in the first two thirds of the movie & when the action finally does kick in, it's not to suspenseful & lacks any kind of atmosphere & chills that good horror films have. Christian Slater is fun to watch & I loved his portrayal of the loony & TRAVIS VAN WINKLE & STEPHEN DORFF really shine in their roles, but sadly there's nothing here to recommend. There are no cool kills on hand, or any real atmosphere & all of the characters are annoying at best. Prior to seeing this, I never heard or seen any mention of this film on any of the horror movie websites & thus I'm going to assume that the film was direct to DVD, but even with that, I've still seen many direct to DVD movies that got some exposure on some of the more popular horror movie websites, so why not this? especially since the film has a few recognizable faces in the cast. From what I can see, the director wrote the screenplay for the fun PATRICK SWAYZE action thriller, POINT BREAK, perhaps in the future he's best to sticking with action films, since horror is definitely not his strongest suit. In the end, RITES OF PASSAGE is mostly a mediocre horror/comedy film.

** stars

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4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Too silly to be offended by

Author: mcbwallace from United States
15 December 2012

First - it takes WAY too long for this movie to get going.

Second - I believe in respecting all cultures, but this movie was so ridiculous (talking sock puppet), that I don't know how any Native American could be offended by any representations in the film.

Now, college professors and students look pretty stupid.

There ARE some pretty amusing moments.

Most from Christian Slater.

Although I felt all the actors did a great job, the material?

I wouldn't waste my time.

The "4" is because I actually made it through.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Potential wasted with lots of disappointment

Author: GL84 from Los Angeles, Ca
17 July 2013

Attempting to visit an authentic Indian burial ground for research, a group of students partying away at the site run afoul of a demented killer looking to punish them for a past indiscretion and forcing them to fight him off to get out alive.

This here turned out to be quite a misguided effort, mainly because so much of it really doesn't gel together the way it is. The premise of turning a haunted burial ground into a slasher is quite novel and generates much of the positives toward this, but the fact that the killer is absolutely pathetic, generates no fear or suspense from his physical appearance since he's essentially a homeless person for all intents and purposes and runs around with a shotgun, not a true slasher weapon which relegates all the kills to gunshot wounds or merciless pounding with a foreign object, greatly reducing the gore quotient here that could've saved this. The constant drug use allows for a few freaky hallucinations from time-to-time but the vast majority of the time nothing substantial happens during the trip, rendering it quite curious as to why it was featured as it was and why there was a huge furor from the characters to include it, so overall this has way too many problems. Even more ridiculous is the animated talking sock puppet giving the lead advice, a tactic that tries to make this a comedy but fails miserably as it comes off as incredibly lame more than anything, and it really only has a few isolated individual moments where it approaches watchability to make this enticing.

Rated R: Continuous pervasive drug use, Graphic Language, Graphic Violence and Brief Nudity.

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4 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Thrilling and killing

Author: Evan Chipman from United States
12 December 2012

Peter Iliff has come a long way since his first successful screenplay, Point Break. His new film, Rites of Passage, is a complete departure from the Hollywood norm. The film focuses around a group of friends in Santa Barbara who take a lot of drugs and trip out on some ranch. The film is clearly directed towards a younger audience, and for the budget they were given, I think they did a great job. There isn't much past the surface of the film, but it works great as a popcorn thriller that I enjoyed with my friends. It was great to see all of the recognizable spots around Isla Vista and SB where Rites of Passage was shot. Would I watch it again? Maybe not. But it was certainly an entertaining and relevant film for a college student like myself.

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4 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Read Me!

Author: jcastenetto from Santa Barbara, CA United States
5 December 2012

I am a returning student at Santa Barbara city college and I was given an extra credit assignment in my marketing 101 class to watch this film which was shot locally where I live. I thought that this movie was better then I expected it to be and it was interesting to see the the locations in which the movie was shot. I have been at many of these places. I think any time a movie is filmed in your home town, it gives you a sense of pride.

The target audience in which this film was intended for was very well chosen. If your going to market out to a specific audience in this town, one of the best one's to market out to is college students. I believe the producer had a very accurate depiction of the local college student life here in Santa Barbara/Goleta area. The movie touches on many areas of the crazy party life styles that is considered the norm around this area. It also touches on certain subjects like the Chumash Indians, and their past (very minimal info on them I agree), drug abuse, sex and the uncertain thoughts of college kids today and where they feel they belong.

Overall I choose to see this movie in a positive light. I have met both the Director and Writer,of the film (Peter Iliff) along with his life long friend Executive Producer and co-writer (Rick Halsey) who partnered up with him for the movie. Both of them are very different individuals and have different life goals, but it was good to see how they can come together with a common goal and make a movie.

To all the people who are angry about this movie, I sincerely believe you guys are misdirecting your anger these guys are in no way attempting to disrespect anyone in any way. Salud!

PS. If you want to reply to my post/review feel free to do so... ;)

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Enjoyed this little gem more after learning how the film was finally made

Author: Reladamjod from The Nostromo
24 August 2014

This was a fun movie, Slater and his little imaginary buddy stole the show. The acting was very good, much better than most movies out there as compared to big budget productions and far superior to the goofy movies churned out on Chiller or SciFi networks. Worth the watch, especially knowing the background & history of how the film was made by two friends who met while in college, and then 30 years later finally got together to make this movie. It's something they can be proud of, I'm hoping more people will watch this film as word of mouth should raise an low, unfair IMDb rating. It's rare that I'm pleasantly surprised by an "unknown" horror genre film (my favorite category), this one is definitely worth the watch.

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2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Rites of Passage...Okay to watch when there's nothing better to do.

Author: Ashlee Bessolo from United States
19 November 2012

While Rites of Passage is a low budget film, it was a lot better than I was expecting. The trailer made the movie appear to be a very cheesy scary movie. In reality, it wasn't as scary as it portrayed to be, and there also was some humor to it. The plot is creative and ambitious. It is hard to make a movie about college students getting high and killing each other seem plausible and real. I believe the writers and producers did the best they could to make the unbelievable situation seem possible in Isla Vista, Santa Barbara. Actors Wes Bently and Christian Slater did well in the acting department, but the college girls, other than Ashley, were either just starting their acting careers or need to practice more. All in all it was fun to watch at the premiere, and the Chumash community at the premiere made for an interesting night!

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