Well, I've decided to do a second entry for the Straight to Video Gems series I hope to be doing (Note: some of the future entries may have gotten a limited release in theaters or a release in another country, but I'm going to count them as Straight to Video for this purpose). So, what's on tap for this entry?
A movie called Dead Birds! This was the other movie I was mentioning in my last Straight to Video Gems article about The Burrowers. It's another horror movie set in the old west times and this one is a personal favorite horror movie of the last few years for me! A quick rundown of the plot from IMDB:
"In Civil War-era Alabama, a band of outlaws takes refuge at an abandoned plantation after robbing a bank that held a cache of Confederate gold. Led by William, the group includes Sam, Todd, Annabelle, Clyde and Joseph. They intend to flee to Mexico, but nightfall and a thunderstorm force the robbers to remain in place. As the night wears on, each member of the group begins to have visions of the atrocities that occurred within the house. As supernatural forces begin to manifest themselves, the six turn on one another."
The cast is surprisingly good and fairly well known, from Patrick Fugit, to Isaiah Washington, to Henry Thomas, and even Mark Boone Junior, aka the guy from Memento and Batman Begins. The cast shows some great chemistry and really good performances, considering the budget of the movie. It's well shot and has some very well done scenery in it. As the scary stuff starts to happen in the movie, a real sense of dread is felt and the whole thing just starts going haywire with the actors turning on one another. From the beginning, there is tension among the group members about the shares of money they are going to get and the possibility of mutiny in the group. From the very start, you get that this group isn't entirely friendly with each other.
I think my favorite parts of the whole movie are the ghost effects and the general haunting parts. The ghosts are quite scary and show up just enough to keep the mystery about them. They don't over do anything with the effects, they just show them enough to keep you scared. It's refreshing to not have the effects in a movie thrown at you repeatedly, just flashed enough to put some fear in you. And my favorite scene in the movie is when Isaiah Washington finds a slave woman tied up in the basement. As she calls for help, he tries to release her. To his horror, the woman is eviscerated in front of his eyes, but you never see who is doing it! A large slit is made in her stomach by an unseen blade and her insides are pulled out by an invisible force as Isaiah watches helplessly. It's a particularly unnerving scene and one that shows just how you don't necessarily need a big budget to pull off some impressive effects.
It's not a perfect movie by any means, as some of the effects do show just how low budget they are, but they don't ruin the movie by any means. And the dialogue is hard to hear at times, so you may find yourself turning up the volume to hear the talking, only to turn it down during the action scenes. It shows that with a little ingenuity though, you can make an original horror movie without having a major production company backing you. It's yet another movie that makes me pleased to know we Americans can make some original horror!
As per usual, I recommend picking it up. I found it at Best Buy, but it's on Amazon.com for 10 bucks and you can get it from Netflix as well. It's a fun flick and I have watched it several times after buying it. Also, tell me if you have seen it what you think!