Ring of Darkness (TV Movie 2004) Poster

(2004 TV Movie)

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so bad its off-scale
gordon_glover10 November 2006
Would like to have a negative scale -10 to vote for this. Yep the Zombies tag got me. Some bad films are so bad they become fun, this isn't! unacceptably irredeemably awful not a single saving grace. Don't watch this movie set fire to your feet or perform a self appendectomy with a blunt spoon; either will be more entertaining than the movie!! Did I mention the god awful and major league irritating 'song' played all the way through this? No, ah well, I was trying to be nice but they started it! If you like music don't watch this film If you think it's a zombie film don't watch this film If you think this is a film go out and have too much to drink and then put the DVD in your toaster. Enjoy
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Yay, it's the Backstreet Boys... or is it?
Yoshi666623 May 2006
Yep, almost all the boys hate the Backstreet Boys, so did a man direct this movie? This movie was a drag and cheaply made. I got bored to tears, and I didn't even know why I was watching it. I could change to another channel, but I just stood there like a mindless zombie. Why couldn't I just change the dang channel and not wait till the end? It would have saved my life! Well, I hate this movie. Zombies as horrible singers? Plus, some of the auditioned people who made it sang the same, so that was cheap. Horrible lyrics, dreadful singing, can I take anymore of that? This movie was bad.

Don't watch it. You'll die from boredness and stupidness of the movie.
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That Was Pretty Bad.
IronHillbilly24 May 2005
Ring Of Darkness is about a boy band with a supernatural secret. Apparently, they like to kill and eat their victim's blood. Are they vampires or what? I do not know because the movie never fully explains what they are. I do know that this movie was sub-par in every way to other movies in it's genre.

The band's lead singer finds out their secret, or suddenly has a problem with it- again, not explained. I only know he is going to reveal the secret to the world. The band can't have that and they kill him. They tell the press the pressure got to him and he is now in the hospital. In the meantime, they need a new lead singer so they have tryouts.

"It's all about the voice", says one of the band members, but then each of the contestants lip syncs the entire song. Pretty laughable. Once they get their final 3 contestants, it's off to a secluded mansion where they can make their final pick. The only problem is, they're slowly disappearing.

This movie was pretty bad, even by "B" Movie horror standards. Whoever was in charge of special effects should be banned from the industry forever. There was more horror in the acting than in the actual movie. Particularly by Ryan Starr. She is definitely not gifted in this department. There was a cool little twist at the end, which is what bumped it up to 2 stars for me but other than that, there is little more to this movie. 85 minutes of wasted time. Coltin Scott was probably the best actor in the movie, but seriously, that is not saying much. My recommendation is avoid. If you want some good "B" Movie horror, try Monster Man.
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whammy6663 July 2006
I saw this film on Showtime not expecting much, but I guess I was expecting a little. Well, I got nothing but a dumb, stupid, boring flick we have all seen before. SO, a boy band has been alive for generations and are zombies. oOoOo...scary! No, seriously, this movie is pretty bad. I really did not even enjoy any humor in this one like I usually can. It was just...idiotic. I think the only good part is when this awful guy is singing and he thinks he is a great singer and dancer when...he sucks. This film has a lot of plot holes, glitches, and more. There really is nothing new to add to this film, it is really just a boring sack of poo. Enjoy!
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This movie sucks
party pat8 September 2005
Warning: Spoilers
When I started to watch this movie, I thought awesome, a boy band that is mostly zombies, awesome premise. This movie however took a horribly bad turn and became an unwatchable piece of garbage. First off, no gore. If your going to make a crappy B-movie about zombies, you need gore. This had none, the zombies apparently kill their victims by dog piling them to death, what the hell. Also if you have a zombie movie, more than 4 people have to die, and they all need to die violently on camera.

The movie starts out with the singer of a boy band getting dog piled by the rest of the band, presumably because he found out they were zombies. So the band needs a new singer and holds nation wide try outs. Three people are picked and go to the bands private Island where one by one they disappear (i.e. "eaten" by the zombies) until only the "bad boy" remains, and saves the day. Late in the movie you find out that they are actually a boy band from the 50's who got in a plane crash and they were all killed. Then this lady brings them back with some kind of magic, and they were different hit boy bands through out the past few decades. No one seemed to notice that all these bands looked like the same 4 dudes with different hair cuts and clothes. Then at the end the main characters girl friend dies and he brings her back as a zombie.

Didn't this guy see "Return of the Living Dead 3", not a good idea. Acting was horrible, script was horrible, and no blood or nudity. I wouldn't recommend this movie to anyone. Also you must endure music that makes the Backstreet Boys seem tolerable.
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Fun for Everyone!!
mcmcgrady13 January 2006
For all the talk about Brokeback Mountain being so "daring" due to it's homosexual content, this movie definitely kicks its ass as far as being flamingly homosexual. Even the heterosexual people are gay. Even the "scary" zombie scenes have the same boy band music playing, and they pose while killing people. Calling it a "zombie" movie is like calling "Pay It Forward" a knife-fighting movie. This essentially is just a lot of very defined cheekbones from different angles. Zombie cheekbones. This is the movie they make old music teachers watch in HELL. Key scenes to look for are the "bad contestant getting eaten," which is a guy getting hugged to death in a parking lot, and "guy following band through the fog," which is a guy following the band through some fog. Lots of fog. Like the budget for stuff like, writers and everything required to make it a real movie was spent on fog. LOTS of fog. And cheekbones. This movie sucks more than Haley Joel Osment does at knife-fighting.
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Don't bother.
Capn00231 March 2005
A good David Decoteau movie is one of two things. (1) a good-enough B-movie horror, with lots of blood, lots of cheezy acting, etc. (i.e. "Puppet Master 2") OR (2) Hot guys running around in their boxer briefs held together by some plot that could vaguely be described as a horror movie (i.e. "Voodoo Academy").

A great David Decoteau movie is both (i.e. "the Frightening", "the Brotherhood").

"Ring of Darkness" is neither. Not enough blood, not enough horror, way too much bad music (even by boy-band standards), and the guys BARELY take their shirts off. And I haven't even mentioned the STUPID ending, the awful foley mixing, the D-grade acting, etc etc etc.

I waited over a year for this?
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On a scale of 1-1 000 000 ...i would give it -20
surfing_in_hawaii4 September 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Where should I start....first...the storyline...Basically its about a group of pretty boy band guys who eat people...doesn't that sound like a blockbuster film!! No wonder it was only meant for TV..not for movie theatres...if it did go there i'm sure it would do worse than Shark Boy and Lava Girl in 3D. If there are people out there who like this movie I just have one thing to say to you...What is the matter with you? I guess you like cheesy ''horror'' movies with bad story lines and weird people. In conclusion..please don't watch it...i wish I never saw it...I wasted 1 hour 45 minutes (appr.) of my life! The End. My Story is done. Good-bye!
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Unintentionally hilarious
BrandtSponseller1 April 2005
Ring of Darkness begins with a young man sneaking through a large home at night. He escapes through a window and we see him run down to a rocky beach. Four other young men confront him and we realize that he knows them. He's the singer of their band. He threatens to expose them but they won't allow it. They attack him instead. They seem to be biting him. Soon after, we learn that they're "Take 10", a boy band in the vein of *NSync and Backstreet Boys. They search for a new lead singer through an "American Idol" (2002)-styled audition process. When three candidates are chosen, they're taken to the home we saw in the beginning of the film for the final leg of their audition. Just what was the band's secret, and will the new candidates accept it?

This is the first 5 out of 10 I've seen in a while, which is a shame, because 5 out of 10 is my rating for "So bad it's good". On most technical and artistic levels, Ring of Darkness is a disaster. But it's enough of a disaster that it's a lot of fun to watch, for all the "wrong" reasons. I laughed more hysterically during some scenes than I do for all but the rarest comedies.

Near the beginning of the film, director David DeCoteau "treats" us to a complete music video of our faux boy band. The music couldn't be cheesier. To amp up the torture, we have to hear this same song over and over for at least the first half hour of the film. Later on the same footage is constantly intercut into other scenes. It is also used with different music (which is better), edited in a way that is supposed to suggest additional Take 10 videos. Padding is a big theme throughout the film. The music video isn't the only footage reused.

There are also chase scenes that go on for what seem to be hours, until there's not one shred of suspense left. DeCoteau and editor Danny Draven, two Full Moon alumni (which might be bad news in itself to many, but I actually like quite a few Full Moon films; at least they're far better than Ring of Darkness), cut the chase scenes with "fancy" changes in the film speed. The final result just looks ridiculous and feels like more padding.

The funniest aspect for me was the acting, and the worst offender was Ryan Starr (as Stacy), who comes to the film world by way of her stint as a contestant on "American Idol". Starr has a chronic case of marble mouth. On top of it, she says her lines far too quickly and she emotes as well as a brick wall. Why would DeCoteau just let such a shoddy performance pass? Maybe he didn't, but he couldn't get any improvement. That may be why Starr, whose picture is prominently in the center of the poster and video box art, is strangely absent for long periods of time. Not that most of the other actors are any better. Even a veteran like Adrienne Barbeau comes across poorly in the film. Surprisingly, there was one good performance--Coltin Scott (aka Stephen Scott Martines), as boy band candidate Shawn, was quite entertaining. He should get himself to a better film. Quick.

For a film that's ostensibly a horror flick, there is very little horror here. The "attack scenes", as few and far between as they are, are all shown with wide shots. They are completely bloodless. For scenes in Take 10's "secret lair", victims are bound and "slashed", except it's the worst knife wound effect I've ever seen. It couldn't be clearer that there is just some oddly colored fluid coming out of the knife, with absolutely no perforation of flesh. The make-up, which is important later in the film to establish the true nature of Take 10, looks worse than what an eight your old could do with your typical dime store Halloween kit.

It's difficult to know exactly whom the film is supposed to appeal to. My guess is that young teenaged girls and gay men would like it the most, as DeCoteau, who is an openly gay director and is well known for his homoerotic genre films, fills Ring of Darkness with men in various states of undress, posing for the cameras. As another reviewer noted, there are strong subtexts based on the inherent gayness of boy bands. The threatened exposure in the beginning can be seen as a threatened "outing" of sexual orientation. Take 10's bonding rituals have strong homoerotic overtones, as does the bondage and fluid ingestion that takes place in their secret lair. The name of the film can be seen as a double entendre (although it's just as likely to be intended to cash in on the success of the Ring films as well as the Spanish horror film from 2002 known as Darkness), similar to Andy Dick's song "Little Brown Ring", or indeed even "Backstreet Boys". This might all be very interesting if only the film weren't such an artistic toxic waste dump.

But again for its unintentional properties, Ring of Darkness is extremely funny. I actually had to pause the film a number of times because I was laughing so hard. I had tears streaming from my eyes. After a while, whenever Starr would appear, I would lose it.

I feel bad having to "bash" this film. From what I know about DeCoteau, he sounds like a great guy who goes out of his way to give breaks to aspiring filmmakers. I'm also a Fangoria fanatic. Scriptwriter Michael Gingold has long been Managing Editor of Fangoria. But I also have to give my honest opinion as a critic--this film sucks. It's only worth seeing for free, and only if you are the type to create your own "Mystery Science Theater 3000" (1988)-styled commentary.
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had to crack a beer 5 minutes in...
small102215 September 2005
my not so straight roommate put this movie on tonight... if you plan on watching it... 2 words... Jim Beam yes it really is that bad.

i never felt more gay in my life..

my roommates girlfriend commented "it makes me feel gay watching this" wow...

what a horrible movie i would recommend the great movie Phantoms over this one and thats saying a lot.

Plot Summary: When a boy bands lead singer mysteriously diappears the media says that he ran away because he could not handle the fame... (more) (view trailer) User Comments: Another homoerotic horror film from David DeCoteau (more)
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Give Me A F*#&%& Break
Brandy-2816 December 2004
I watched a total of 45 minutes of this movie before I gave up and turned it off. This movie of course was made to bring in the female and a select group of male people. Just the group alone on the stage groping themselves and I don't know how many times I saw one of the guys lift up their shirts to show everyone that they all had six pack tummy's. After the 10th time one of the guys did that - that was enough for me.

And then the audition to replace the gone lead singer. All of the guys auditioning - sounded the same. They all didn't do anything different in the dancing department - with the exception of pointing of the fingers to the audience and of course - lifting up their shirts to show off their six pack.

It's on cable - maybe I will watch the rest of the movie sometime this month - but if I don't - trust me - I won't miss it.

The only good thing about this movie was maybe - John Wynne. Cute Guy.
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So Gay even Big Gay Al would be proud Mr. Hat!
SoulEater25 March 2005
Warning: Spoilers
They keep flashing back to shots of the music video they made in the beginning. It really was a gay movie I mean there was to much of the guys for my liking. And the comment "it tastes like life" was totally gay. I will admit that when the main character found the box and saw that they had been doing this for like 50 years that was kinda cool but overall it was so bad. But seriously how many times did they flash back to that music video? anytime they needed to fill space they did. And then kill the one guy because he won't gang bang a chick with you? I don't know I am glad that I did not pay to rent this movie that is for sure. I will also be warning people at my video store not to rent it either.
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What in the World1
single_in_inna25 March 2005
Warning: Spoilers
This movie was not the worst movie I Have ever watched but pretty darn close to it! The plot which is about a group of zombie Boy Band members who after losing their head leader zombie singer need to find another . They hold auditions and choose a few guys to come back to their home place and continue the auditions. There are three guys and each are has their own reason for being there, one a reporter, the other is just wanting to join the pack, and other is because of his girl friend. While at this home on a remote beach the action starts taking place, (no more said you can say for your self rather or not its action). I ,however, believe that there was very little action. The movie took Sationnist worships and made them look funny rather than scary as they should look. Another writer said there was no violence in this movie "so why was it Rated R"? I guess being eaten, shoot in the heart with a bow, and dragging someone against their will some place is not enough violent for someone. I think the movie was trying to play on the fact that all boys bands are close by using sexuality to show they share everything. Which in turn just made them look how shell I say this nicely not completely straight! They also had some very cheesy dance moves, a horrible pop song, and clothing. Their was the cute one, the hot one, the guy next door, the etc one. I gave this movie a four because I was very bored when I turned it on; it was very easy to laugh. There was some good acting by the women who played the girlfriend of one and the boyfriend, the reporter, and the head witch. I found the scenery very nice to look at from time to time like when they showed the ocean water hitting the rocks, but that got over shadowed when they started showing the dark woods and the fogy house which look too man made and the hiding place of the guy zombies which also looked to man made. Their was ,how,ever, one perk to the whole movie good looking guys. Over all I say don't buy the movie first rent it if its even out on video or watch it on Showtime like I did. It was worth the laugh too keep me busy for a hour or so.
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Fame! Ain't it a Drag
sol121815 February 2005
(Spoilers) Redicules and bumbling film that wouldn't even be good, or bad, enough to make the famous Bad Movie TV show "Mystery Sicence Theater 3000". The movie is about this rock group the Take Ten, even though there's only five members in it, who's suddenly out it's lead singer Gordo, Greg Chipes, and is desperately looking for a replacement.

You see Gordo found out who the members of the group really are and tried to make a run for it from the groups island, Compus, where they were all staying at. Captured on the beach Gordo tells the group members that he's going to spill the beans on them, to the National Enquire. Only to get spilled into the ocean by them never to be seen again.

Coming up with this cock & bull story that Gordo was a drug addict and was sent by the group to some secret rehabilitation clinic they through their manager Alex, Adrienne Barbeau, conduct a nation wide search for Gordo's replacement. Narrowing the competition for Gordo's job down to three lucky guys Max Jonah & Shawn, Eric Dearborn Jeff Paterson & Coltin Scott,their flown to Compus for what would be a battle for the lead singers contest to see who's the one to finally replace Gordo.

At the island strange things begin to happen in that Jonah turns out to be an undercover reporter working for a supermarket tabloid magazine, The National Enquire?. He's soon discovered by the group members only to be iced and never seen or heard from again. Max who would give his right arm to make the group "Take Ten" ends up giving up a lot more, his life. When they feel he's not cut out to be with them and do a little bit of cutting up of Max on their own.

Shawn who's at the island with his girlfriend Stacy, Ryan Starr, isn't really interested in becoming a group member, It's all Stacy's idea. He tries to leave the island only to be captured by the Take Ten and their manager Alex, who seems to have the hots for him,and. He's then put through this really weird ritual at a secret cave by the beach where Shawn as well as all the group members, striped down to his boxer shorts as the group preforms some kind of Satanic rites or ceremony on him. Shawn is at last rescued by his girlfriend Stacy who comes to his aid with a cross-bow. Later Shawn unties himself and takes what looks like a bunch of voodoo dolls and throws them into the fire, that the group set for their ceremony, causing them as well as the group members to burn to a crisp.

The movie tries to give us a surprise ending which is about as effective as the rest of the story that preceded it: it's totally unbelievable. Were given this BS story about the group being around since the mid 1950's changing their name every five years or so. The rock & Roll group kept hitting the top Billboard Charts with hit after hit for the last fifty years starting with the 1954 Rock & Roll band Bobby Coolly and the Sea Sharks.

As for the Busty Adrienne Barbeau who played Alex, the Take Ten's manager, looked like she was either out in the sun too long or went the distance in the boxing ring with "Iron Mike" Tyson.
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Another homoerotic horror film from David DeCoteau
preppy-324 December 2004
The lead singer of a boy band is killed by his band members because he wants to reveal their "secret". They cover up the killing and audition for a new lead singer. Their ultimate pick is Shawn Walker (Coltin Scott)...but he doesn't want it and finds out their secret...

OK--this isn't a good movie. Like other DeCoteau movies it has a bad script. The opening number clued me in that I was in trouble--the song sucks and there's some hysterically bad "dancing". Also these guys make other boy bands (like N'Sync and the Backstreet Boys)look like they have talent! Also the auditions are painful to watch--Scott gives the WORST one--but they pick him! The acting is (with one exception) dreadful. When Adrienne Barbeau gives the best performance you KNOW something is wrong! Ryan Starr (as Walkers girlfriend) is easily the worst offender. The film (even at 80 min) has endless padding full of bad songs, shots of the ocean and pointless dream sequences.

Still I'm giving this a 7. Why? Cause I'm a gay guy and this film is full of strong homoerotic images--the guys are good-looking and have nice bodies. DeCoteau is a gay man and he makes these films to appeal to a gay audience--nothing wrong with that! He also does throw in a few untalented, big-breasted women to assure us that these guys are straight--but it's always clear who this film was made for. The best looking guys are Jeff Peterson (who plays Jonah and actually gives a good performance) and Scott--and Scott definitely has the best body--the sequence with him running around in black shorts shows this! So this is a pretty bad film but most gay guys will be pleasantly entertained by the images.
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gay vampire songbirds from surf-land
yakusanerd3 July 2005
that about sums it up.(so obligatory IMDb stupid rules force me to add five lines to this 5 line critic of a Hollywood masterpiece up there with Kane,Requiem for a dream,the harder they come(reggae masterpiece movie)Hollywood must die,the accountants have taken power,creativity is out for lunch since 1985,remakes galore sign of the shallow times(am i done yet?obviously not,recipes anyone?)in itself it's a piece of crap but it's really fun: the realistic depiction of the shallow pop boy band industry and it's codified marketed sexuality(except that decoteau like john waters subverts it by homosexual undertones but without the talent(after all it does seem like a TV command job)
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Seriously lame
Woodyanders6 April 2010
Warning: Spoilers
This movie boasts an interesting enough premise: A talent search is held to replace the lead singer of the enormously popular and successful boy band Take Ten after the guy suddenly disappears. The finalists are all flown to a remote exotic island. One by one they start to get bumped off. It turns out Take Ten are a bunch of evil immortals who engage in some kind of black rites ritual in order to stay young forever. Director David DeCoteau, working from an insipid and unsurprising script by Michael Gingold and Matthew Jason Walsh, crucially fails to bring any tension or creepy atmosphere to the proceedings; instead DeCoteau overdoes his patented blatant heavy-handed homoeroticism to the annoying ninth degree with such stuff as the four members of Take Ten attacking their mostly male victims in a snarling pack (they bite the dudes and drink their blood) and leering shots of buff young hunks with six-pack abs wearing nothing but black boxer shorts. Worse yet, the villains lack menace and the limp ending totally fizzles. Moreover, the flashy razzle-dazzle MTV music video style proves to be equally irritating and excessive, with far too much affected posturing, rapid-fire editing, appallingly bad singing and dancing (think the Backstreet Boys on a very cruddy day), and gauzy bright lighting. The severe lack of hardcore gore and tasty gratuitous female nudity doesn't help matters any. This movie further suffers from a lot of incredibly poor acting, with former "American Idol" series regular Ryan Starr qualifying as the worst offender with her dreadful performance as token hot babe Stacy. Adrienne Barbeau manages to do decent work as the band's shrewd manager Alex while John Waters film favorite Mink Stole is wasted in a nothing minor role as tabloid newspaper editor Fletcher. A real wash-out.
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Stupid, die, go away!
Horrorible_Horror_Films20 December 2005
I saw the last 45 minutes or so of this. Where the hell was the gore? The 'zombies' look like robots underneath, not zombies, and when they were supposedly scratched to show their zombie skin underneath, its really really stupid - those sratches are obviously waaaaay to uniform. I can't stand homo-erotcism in horror movies! Not that there's anything wrong with that, if thats your thing go for it, but man, it really pushed this movie over the edge, I never ever need to see anything like that again. Although, maybe this film is really just a stunning expose on real boy bands, and its trying to tell us something, that actually makes sense.
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David DeCoteau strikes again!!
maxmooney22 February 2005
Anyone who has seen Voodoo Academy, The Brotherhood (I, II, III) and Leeches know by now what to expect... all others need not apply. Either you are along for the silly, campy ride or you're not: cute guys in a homo-erotic thriller setting. Nothing more, nothing less. Still not as good as Voodoo Academy or The Brotherhood II (or even Sorority Babes In The Slimeball Bowl-A-Rama when David was doing more str8 T&A) but grab some popcorn, check your IQ and have a good time. (Plus, Adrienne Barbeau is worth watching in anything. And what is the kid from Baywatch doing now? Check out Ring Of Darkness ((awful, awful title)) and find out.
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As bad as it gets
Leofwine_draca18 January 2019
Warning: Spoilers
RING OF DARKNESS is another godawful homoerotic horror flick from Z-grade director David DeCoteau. It's about a boy band, with all of the lingering photography you'd expect from this director, and yes there's the obligatory - and lengthy - scene of them stripped down to their boxers. The story involves them recruiting a new member, but they have sinister plans in store for him. It's pretty much as bad as it gets.
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Young Men Getting Topless... This is a Horror Film?
gavin69423 October 2012
When a boy band's lead singer (Greg Cipes) mysteriously disappears the media says that he ran away because he could not handle the fame...

If you know David DeCouteau, you know that he loves featuring young men in his movies. Preferably young men with sculpted bodies who like to take off their shirts. You might often find homoerotic undertones, as well. If you know this and know that this move was made by DeCouteau, you will not be the least bit surprised by the endless stream of young male flesh parading on your screen.

The boy band song (Christian Ebner's "Sexin' Me") was played a bit too long for my liking. Okay, maybe not a bit too long -- a lot too long. If I go the rest of my life without ever hearing that song again, I would be perfectly okay with that. Did every audition have to have that same song, with the guys obviously lip-syncing? Geez!

I am curious if the film was financed by Von Dutch, as their hats and shirts are everywhere. Of course, this could just be the director's way of letting us know these guys are tools...
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New Kids on the Chopping Block
wes-connors12 October 2009
"When the lead singer of a band mysteriously disappears, a nationwide talent search is held to replace him. Ryan Starr ("American Idol") is Stacy, the devoted girlfriend to Shawn (Stephen Martines, 'General Hospital'), a talented young musician waiting for his big break. Once Shawn makes it to the top three, they are all flown to an exotic island, but it soon becomes clear that something is wrong as the finalists begin to disappear. Will Stacy and Shawn become intertwined in a ring of deception and death or will they be able to uncover the truth and escape?" asks the DVD case.

The group "Take 10" - Greg Cipes (as Gordo McSteel), Jeremy Jackson (as Xavier Doorsberg), Matthew Thomas Baker (as Jake Slater), Colin Bain (as B.J. Banyon), and John Wynn (as Kyle West) - definitely captures that "boy band" look. "Idol" wannabes Martines, Eric Dearborn, and Jeff Peterson are of a rougher cut, but all eight would answer "YES!" to the question, "Do you work out?" Adrienne Barbeau (as Alex Marshall) can still titillate, and Ms. Starr has a nice swing in her backyard - but, mainly, this is a film to watch if you're into eyeing slim-waisted young men.

**** Ring of Darkness (2/28/04) David DeCoteau ~ Stephen Martines, Jeremy Jackson, Adrienne Barbeau, Ryan Starr
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Boyband zombies? Is this a stretch?
ThrownMuse16 November 2005
The lead singer of the nation's hottest boyband drops out under mysterious circumstances and auditions are held to replace him. Shawn, an aspiring "rocker" is roped into trying out by his girlfriend (played atrociously by American Idol reject Ryan Starr) who thinks it could be his big break. Poor Shawn isn't like these guys, although it is hard to tell that by looking at him. In case you forget which one is the "rocker," Shawn is the one with the (empty?) guitar case and the skin-tight Metallica shirt. Anyway, soon Shawn and the Idol reject realize that this is a DeCouteau film, which means that the boyband is really a front for supernatural shenanigans in boxer-briefs. Ring of Darkness is not as homoerotic as most have claimed, and it has higher production values than most other movies I've seen of his. The plot is actually sort of amusing and has some neat little twists, and the acting isn't bad (there are supporting roles by B-movie faves Adrienne Barbeau and Mink Stole), with the exception of the horrendous Idol reject. The boyband members are extremely annoying, and their one song and music video are interspersed throughout the film as filler, which makes viewing nearly unbearable. Moral of the Story: Don't join a boyband, because they'll just smother you in goo while wearing boxer-briefs. Hey, wait...
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B movie social commentary
filmnut18 July 2004
Warning: Spoilers
Warning: This review contains slight spoilers.

B movies are not recognised for their social commentary, but Ring of Darkness can be considered a modest exception. This, and many others produced by Rapid Heart Pictures, are essentially 'closet horror' movies.

Homosexual themes are not presented explicitly, but the style of the direction, the subtextual interpretations of the narrative and the posters for the films themselves all indicate something slightly different from the mainstream. Though present, heterosexual women have only a peripheral role in the narrative and the gaze of the camera contradicts every 'straight' moment, a principle argument in 'queer theory' of the implications of the buddy movie narratives of Lethal Weapon (1987) etc.

This subconscious presentation of sexual concerns is not uncommon. Studies of a great deal of horror films consider the view of the monster as metaphorical. A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy's Revenge (1985) can be seen as a destructive 'coming out' narrative. This film goes a step further by highlighting the male form over all other aspects. This colours responses to the narrative and the director's intentions.

Director David DeCoteau is a director with many years of experience in exploitation cinema and clearly has an agenda. Openly gay himself, every decision in his recent films appears to have been made for a reason. So, one has to consider the full implications of a film which advertises itself with posters of young men who look as though they stepped out of the pages of Attitude, yet contain not even the briefest mention of homosexuality, let alone romance.

While the homo-erotica of DeCoteau's contemporary oeuvre appears greatly indebted to the likes of Interview with the Vampire (1994), Ring of Darkness is a closer relation to that film's inferior sequel, Queen of the Damned (2002) in its unity of horror and popular music. Unlike that film the music is the hook and not the selling point. Here we go beyond usual horror cliché to explore the boy band phenomenon itself, which has dominated the music industry for over 10 years.

Society is still rather uncomfortable with homosexuality. We've just about accepted it on TV, and that's mainly in relation to comedy. Many celebrities are still believed to be in the closet because of such prejudice. Take the boy band for example. Occasionally extremely camp, in terms of theatrical choreography and attention to physical perfection, boy bands always sing ballads about women and are adored mostly by young girls, who make up the majority of the pop audience. I don't feel like I'm incorrect in saying that if an openly gay boy band emerged their success would be severely limited. It appears that this is a foundation for DeCoteau's film, with the band protecting their metaphorical secret from an innocent public.

Issues of sexuality aside, it seems the film strives even to use the horror as a metaphor for pop music itself. Called Take 10, this is merely the current incarnation of the immortal quartet. It is discovered that they have actually been around since the 1950s, continually reinventing themselves to conform to the latest pop trend. Quite clearly this is a clever swipe at the nature of pop music itself, a genre whose popularity is ephemeral and in constant need of change to adapt to the culture of the time.

My playground sense of humour meant that I couldn't help but snigger a little at the irony implied by the title. From an allegorical perspective it seems actually kind of apt. Mainstream society's long held fears of homosexuality are played out as the protagonist struggles to keep hold of his prized heterosexuality in a familiar 'join us or die' narrative. The secret of their monster nature representing their closet status, the violent acts they commit play to dated fears of their predatory nature; their cannibalism specifically playing on fears of rape.

Due to uncharacteristic complexity I initially had difficulty trying to figure out what point director David DeCoteau is trying to make. It appears he's sending mixed signals. Playing the film 'straight' does allow the film to appeal to a wide audience, and in a sense he is exploiting audience expectation. The modestly sexy shots of the girls in the movie are clearly highlighted in the trailer far more than the overwhelming number of male 'underwear model' shots that fill the running time. He seems to have fun playing with the audience. Objectifying men instead of women can create unease in an audience far more than even gore, so DeCoteau makes sure the role of girlfriend is there to reassure, allowing a conventional narrative to carry the viewer along.

Even though the times have changed, to make a genre film which frankly presented homosexual characters would likely cause it to be marginalised. DeCoteau's films enjoy the best of both worlds. A Bi-movie, if you'll forgive the pun. Maximising the talents of a small cast, a modest location and minimising special effects, Gay audiences can have fun with the subversion of film-making norms and enjoy the sculpted physiques on display.

Straight audiences can safely enjoy a horror narrative which exploits their fear of the unknown, consistently appeased by the sight of nubile young women and the safe resolution of the defeat of evil. DeCoteau's intent is actually closer to that of David Cronenberg or Clive Barker. Good and evil, black and white, there are no absolutes in reality. Ring of Darkness allows the audience to see what it wants to and to consider the implications themselves.
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Another AB movie in the archive
docmav22 March 2007
Bought this as it stars the gorgeous and busty Adrienne Barbeau. Okay she is no longer the young (!) woman who appeared in my all time fave movie The Fog, but she still has an air of sexiness I find attractive. As for the film, it is a little weak but it isn't like the producers reckoned it was a huge box office hit! The acting is typical B-movie in places and most seem to believe in the script enough to carry the idea through. As for the lass from American Idol, okay she isn't that great with the acting skills but what the hey she has looks and maybe if she sticks at this acting thing she could get better.

Back to Adrienne though and I hope to track down more and more of her movies. I have got "That Rat movie", The Fog, Cannonball Run, The Convent, Escape From New York, Swamp Thing and I hope to gather more. Any suggestions on Region 2 DVD?
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