8 Films To Die For:
US Rating: R - Violence, Disturbing Images And Language
Film Length: 80 Mins
Aspect Ratio: 2:37.1
Audio: English Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: Optional English and Spanish
The Film - out of
In 2006, a festival of horror films was created – sharing with eager horror fans independently produced genre movies that promised to chill them to their bones, scare them to death and entrance them, as the marketing goes, in a state of fear. After Dark Films brought together eight films that would likely not otherwise have found an audience. This ‘Horrorfest’ festival assembled little known or unheard of films that dealt with stories of ghosts and ghouls; the grim and gross. The 2007 Horrorfest sought to reignite the success of the first festival, by bringing to audiences a collection of 8 more films to die for. The films in the 2007 festival included tales of zombies, ghosts, strange creatures and the end of the world. The collection of 2007’s ‘8 Films To Die For’ include Nightmare Man, Unearthed, Tooth and Nail, Lake Dead, The Deaths of Ian Stone, Mulburry St. , Borderland and Crazy Eights.
After the death of a childhood friend, six people come together for the funeral and to honor his wishes that they, together, follow his final request. Begrudgingly they do so, following a map to a childhood chest they shared; a time capsule filled with toys and memories. But the chest contains a secret that sends them into a frenzy and they soon find themselves at a derelict home where they realize they have been before. The secret unleashed from that chest stalks and terrifies the captive childhood friends as they seek to uncover the mystery and save their lives.
What begins as an intriguing idea from a screenplay by Dan Deluca and James K Jones (and a couple of others) falls flat pretty quickly. The direction at the hands of James K Jones is capable, but the whole proceeding is impatiently and chaotically thrust in front of us that it loses credibility. For example, as a familiar narrative technique in scary movies, the story begins to introduce the ensemble cast one at a time. The characters have a creepy moment that lets us know that the chilling events have actually begun even before they come together. Sadly, the film decides that dropping the ball is the way to go. We only get to see a couple of the characters scary introductions, causing an unevenness from which it never recovers. I am not sure if limiting the introductions was a decision based on pacing, time or dissatisfaction with the finished scenes, but when we catch the forgotten characters pieces as a flashback later in the film – it serves as a reminder that whatever the reason, it was the wrong one.
Of all the ‘8 Films to Die For’, Crazy Eights has perhaps the largest recognizable cast, with actors like Dina Meyer (Starship Troopers), Gabrielle Anwar (TV’s excellent Burn Notice), Frank Whaley (TV’s The Dead Zone), George Newbern (Father of the Bride, Dan Deluca, and Traci Lords. The cast performs rather good considering the lack of spark in the script and the poor assemblage of the material. Dina Meyer, still a favorite of mine since her flirtatious Dizzy Flores in Paul Verhoeven’s Starship Troopers, shows that there is more to her than the role choices she makes demonstrate. Frank Whaley, who has shown up recently in a number of productions as a squirrelly or obnoxious sort, overcomes initial insufferable presence to deliver one of the best moments of the feature as he unravels before our eyes in a solitary ‘yell-fest’.
However, a few glimpses of quality aren’t enough to absolve the issues of the whole affair. Of all the issues mentioned in this review, the one that is perhaps the most unforgivable, is the robbing of the films reveal by the choices in the films title card opening. It becomes another situation where we know far more than the characters, and for far too long, which creates a sense of frustration. We should not be that far ahead of the people on screen unless it is to build a Hitchcockian sense of dread and danger.
Disjointed, uneven and frustrating at times, Crazy Eights waters down a solid concept and, by aiming for creepy and clever, trips and falls like one of the unfortunate characters in the film down a dark flight of stairs, a tumble from which it never reemerges.
Crazy Eights comes to DVD with a 16X9 2.37:1 presentation. The image has a few problems, noticeably an excess of grain and blandness throughout. There are some lighting issues that cause some scenes to appear a little too dark, with shadows bleeding in too much of the frame and affecting what we see. Good contrasts are mostly absent and the lack of differentiation in colors produces a washed out and uninteresting visual palette.
Crazy Eights comes with a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio option. Some activity in the surrounds helps the film achieve a slight level of creepiness, but not consistent enough to be effective. The first act is dialogue heavy and so the center channel is asked to do most of the work. Sound is clear and distortion free. Overall, the audio does an okay job but fails to produce any exciting or wow moment.
Miss Horrorfest Contest Webisodes - (19:19) – Split in to several chapters that you can select or choose a ‘play all’ feature, this quest to find and crown the next Miss Horrorfest comes off like the slew of annoying ‘reality’ show excess clogging up the airwaves (and now the internet). Basically a classless diversion and mostly irrelevant to the horror film proceedings.
Crazy Eights is another weak entry in 2007’s After Dark Horrorfest. What promises to be a good little horror mystery stumbles out of the gate and never catches up to where it should have been. A few likable actors make up some ground along the way but the hill they have to climb is too much. The disorderly piecing together of the story and the scares bars the movie for pulling you in and winds up letting you down.