Lions Gate presents
"Scottsville hasn't seen a crime wave this bad since those kids siphoned the Big Gulp machine at the 7-11."- Howard Spiegel (Scott Davidson)
Stars: Corbin Bernsen, Tracy Nelson, Whip Hubley, Katie Stuart, Lukas Behnken
Other Stars: Mark Taylor, Michael Gregory, Scott Davidson, Tony Longo
Director: Kelly Sandefur
Manufacturer: Advanced Media Post
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for Violent Content
Run Time: 01h:34m:10s
Release Date: 2002-09-24
DVD ReviewOkay, let's see. Direct to video horror movie. Starring Corbin Bernsen. It's no wonder that my expectations were, shall we say, extremely low for Fangs. Much to my surprise, it turned out to an entertaining mix of horror and comedy, doing both quite well.
In Scottsville, California's Whitley College, Professor Arther Fuller (Mark Taylor) is researching bats. Unfortunately for him, the bats he's studying turn out to be bloodthirsty mutant man-eating bats and they escape after doing him in. That's bad news to land developer Carl Hart (Bernsen), who is busily promoting his real estate project. His hopes are pinned on the upcoming Scottsville Apple Festival, where he intends to sell over a hundred lots, but the prospects for this level of sales are likely dimmed by hordes of bloodthirsty mutant man-eating bats. So corrupt Police Chief Taylor (Michael Gregory) orders investigating detective Ally Parks (Tracy Nelson, best remembered from the Father Dowling series) to bury the investigation. When the bodies start piling up, Det. Parks turns to local veterinarian John Winslow (Whip Hubley) for assistance.
The story is essentially silly; a vital plot point turns on the misconception that bats use radar instead of echolocation. But the saving grace is that the film hardly ever takes itself seriously. The town is quite quirky and there's a good deal of over-the-top humor. Yes, the deputy frightened by blood was done before (and better) on Twin Peaks, but it's carried off well by Scott Davidson as said deputy. Everyone's wildly overacting, but it's all so tongue-in-cheek that it's quite enjoyable. Bernsen in particular is practically frothing at the mouth with evil, forging documents to foreclose on the elderly and evict them in the middle of the night. Especially entertaining is Katie Stuart as Winslow's annoying daughter, who incessantly is filming things for her hyperbolic documentaries. Nelson is the single grounding feature that resembles reality, giving the rest of the lunatics of Scottsville someone centered to play off of.
Surprisingly, for what appears to be a low-budget opus, the effects are quite good. The bats are very much convincing; granted, you don't get a good look at them most of the time, but they seldom betray their animation origins. A single example that is captured and seen in closeup is also highly convincing. The gore level is quite low, despite a running gag about exactly how nauseating the victims under the sheets appear. The PG-13 rating frankly seems a bit high for such a mild horror film. The comedy element predominates (indeed, I got more serious laughs from this than I do from most films billed as comedies) but the suspense segments are well-timed and decently effective to boot. First-time director Kelly Sandefur provides an engaging entertainment that stacks up favorably with quite a few major releases.
Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B-
|Aspect Ratio||1.33:1 - Full Frame|
|Original Aspect Ratio||yes|
Image Transfer Review: As a DTV offering, the picture is presented in full frame. This seems to be the proper way to view the film; there is no evidence of panning and scanning, and there's not excessive headroom either. The bit rate is rather low, around 3 Mbps, which would explain the shimmer and video noise that tends to erupt every now and then. There are also some issues with aliasing, though on the whole detail and color are pretty good. Acceptable, but not outstanding.
Image Transfer Grade: C+
Audio Transfer Review: The 2.0 audio track is very clean and free of significant hiss or noise. The soundstage is surprisingly broad, and the track makes good use of surrounds with bat noises and ominous music. The swirling sound of the bats is hugely effective and adds to the creepy atmosphere (in between the gags). I really found no faults at all with the audio here.
Audio Transfer Grade: A-
Disc ExtrasStatic menu
Scene Access with 24 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
Packaging: generic plastic keepcase
Extras Review: Other than English, French and Spanish subtitles, there are no extras here. Chaptering is good, with 24 stops populating the 94-minute running time.
Extras Grade: D-
Final CommentsA surprisingly fun little horror-comedy featuring little in the way of gore but quite a lot in the way of laughs. A decent enough transfer, but nothing in the way of extras. But don't let its direct-to-video origins (or the presence of Corbin Bernsen) put you off.
Mark Zimmer 2003-01-16