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Anchor Bay presents
Slayer (2006)

"What the hell did this?"
- Grieves (Kevin Grevioux)

Review By: Rich Rosell   
Published: November 20, 2006

Stars: Casper Van Dien, Kevin Grevioux, Jennifer O'Dell, Alexis Cruz
Other Stars: Tony Plana, Joyce Giraud, Ray Park, Danny Trejo, Lynda Carter
Director: Kevin Vanhook

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (violence)
Run Time: 01h:27m:13s
Release Date: November 21, 2006
UPC: 013138900081
Genre: horror


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
C+ C-BB- C+

DVD Review

This latest made-for-cable outing from writer/director Kevin VanHook (Frost: Portrait Of A Vampire, The Fallen Ones) takes elements of Predator and Buffy The Vampire Slayer, mixes them together, removes the good parts, leaves the residue and then tries to build a film around it. There's attempted macho military swagger from Casper Van Dien, as a commando (named "Hawk", no less) sent back into a South American jungle to subdue a growing clan of vampires. Under the convenient plot predictability heading, our hero's old commando pal (Kevin Grevioux) has been abducted by the vamps, and it just so happens that Hawk's ex-wife (Jennifer O'Dell) is also roaming around the very same jungle, up to her pretty ears in vampire danger.

That's the setup, and while it does look it could be filled with some possible cheesy goodness, the presentation just unfolds in what seems like an endless series of hokey dialogue and wire-induced fight scenes. This all builds to a big confrontation with the film's heavy, and here's actually where things almost get interesting. Even for what was clearly a very modestly budgeted feature, the visual effects for the showdown indicate where most of the money probably went, and it's too bad there couldn't have been more of it. But that's probably not VanHook's fault. So instead of all those snarling-stuntmen-with-fangs descending from treetops, there's just a scene or two with the nasty head vampire, yet that just doesn't quite make it all worth it.

For the curious, VanHook lured Lynda Carter in for a scene or two as Hawk's superior officer, and I gathered from her performance she was given her lines about 8 seconds before she uttered them. Naturally, Carter will always be the dreamy human incarnation of Wonder Woman, but seeing her here trying to be large-and-in-charge was nothing short of comical, and just a bit awkward. But she almost gets lost amidst appearances by Ray (Darth Maul) Park, Tony Plana (Ugly Betty, 24) and perennial ominous character Danny Trejo, here driving a bright pink jungle river boat for a scene or two.

I couldn't really figure out if VanHook was trying to be campy here, or if that was just the way it came out. Even a very sexy vampire (Joyce Giraud) and a particularly nice decapitation scene aren't enough to save it, as Slayer never really becomes anything more than something that should have been much better.

Rating for Style: C+
Rating for Substance: C-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.78:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: Slayer has been issued in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, and for a low-budget horror title the presentation is very nicely done. Colors look bright and vibrant during the outdoor jungle scenes, and black levels are very solid on the nighttime cave sequences. Image detail and sharpness, even during night scenes, reveals clear edges with only minimal softness under a few extremely dark sequences.

Image Transfer Grade: B

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: Audio choices are available in either Dolby Digital 5.1 or 2.0 surround blends. Dialogue clarity on both is more than adequate, with the low, low rumble of Kevin Grevioux's voice sounding noticeably more ominous under the preferred 5.1 banner. Rears get used for the score elements and the odd stinger, with most of the action split across the front three channels where a fair amount of directional placement gives things a wider, more spacious feel.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 12 cues and remote access
5 Other Trailer(s) featuring Voodoo Moon, The Fallen Ones, Hellboy: Sword of Storms, Room 6, Masters of Horror
Screenplay
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Kevin VanHook, Casper Van Dien
Weblink/DVD-ROM Material
Packaging: Amaray with slipcase
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Photo Gallery
Extras Review: Note to slipcase enthusiasts: Anchor Bay has issued Slayer with a slipcase cover over an Amaray case. The disc itself is cut into 12 chapters, and also includes trailers for Voodoo Moon, The Fallen Ones, Hellboy: Sword of Storms, Room 6 and the Masters of Horror series.

There's also a commentary track from writer/director Kevin VanHook and actor Casper Van Dien. The two have a nice, casual rapport together, but the content isn't all that revelatory, even though they both keep the conversation going for the duration. There's talk of the editing, the wire work crew, how it was to work with Lynda Carter and other standard issue topics, and much of it seems like stuff we've all heard before.

Extras conclude with a photo gallery and a DVD-ROM accessible PDF of the screenplay.

Extras Grade: C+

 

Final Comments

An interesting premise, but the concept never quite gets executed properly. So what we're left with is an unfortunately uneventful vampires-in-the-jungle flick that never comes close to living up to its potential.

 


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