Sunday, 6 February 2011

Total Nonsense Angle ...

River Of Darkness
(2010 / USA)

‘‘How are you going to fight demons from hell  
when you don’t have God on your side !?’’

Stars from the world of wrestling entertainment step into the squared circle of film, in a match made in ‘B’ movie bad-ville. When a wronged family return from the dead, to take revenge upon their deceitful killers, the road to horror mania begins !.

In the small township of Cedar Springs Sheriff Will Logan (Kurt Angle) has a sudden spate of savage killings to investigate. First a young woman finishing her days shift at the diner is attacked, gutted, and strung up in a make shift style of crucifixion. A crude wooden board sign is left hung around her neck, written upon it is the word Hix. Other killings soon follow in equally brutal and bloody fashion. It seems that a trio of Cajun killers are on a murder spree. Big fish gutting hooks and axes are the tools of their trade.

Two night fishermen are butchered by the ghostly ghoul like killers, leaving them similarly marked with the branding of, Hix. Folk in Cedar Springs become very edgy, and when a local woman, dubbed Crazy Mary, breaks into the communal church, spouting off apocalyptic phrases and foretelling that ‘they’ have come back !, things start to get even darker.

Sheriff Logan seems to be not the most popular guy in his position of authority, but sets about his business with professionalism. He investigates the only lead he has, what in fact turns out to be a name, Hix. The locals don’t want to talk, but one older generation town stalwart imparts information that the id pertains to a man named Harvey Hix. It turns out that thirty years ago he, and a band of town folk vigilantes set upon, and killed three men unwelcome in the community. The Jacobs boys and their father kept themselves to themselves but were deemed lowlife vagrants and no good riff raff, unwelcome in Cedar Springs. When they failed to move on a local girl accuses one of the Jacobs boys of raping her. The falsehood leads Harvey Hix and his vigilantes to take justice into their own hands. All three men are unjustly attacked and murdered !.

Thirty years on and it seems that the Jacobs boys and papa Jacobs have returned from their watery grave, and are taking their own form of justice against those who turned upon them. Fish hooks in hand and gutting skills put to expert use, backed up by an axe apiece to grind out their gratuitous revenge.
It’s a pretty standard affair with all the applicable traits and attributes of low budget ‘B’ movie film making. The attention to detail and plot from the writing team often leaves its audience more dumbfounded than the on screen silliness. Sheriff Logan’s lack of knowledge with both locals and town history is ridiculous. Not knowing anything at all about an infamous town lynching and murder that occurred in the last thirty years is too odd for words. It is never quite clear as to whether he was raised in the town, or come in to be appointed sheriff in recent times !?.

The movie itself is pretty well filmed, and particularly the night scenes, replete with back lit creepy scenarios and suitably applied wafts of mist, make for good viewing. The best moments do actually come when the Jacobs family appear out of the mist and set about their tirade of terror. Fans of wrestling will no doubt delight in seeing the icons Psycho Sid Vicious and Kevin Nash apply their might to taking out the trash on the big screen. There really is something quite enjoyably quirky visible in their eyes when they swing that axe. Go Big Daddy ‘Kill’ !.

The small town fishing community, murders in the mist scenario certainly is reminiscent of John Carpenter’s The Fog (1980), but in reality the difference in class is vast. Carpenter’s movie is an all time classic and readily re-watchable, whereas River Of Darkness, once viewed is most likely to be ‘mist’ on repeat showings.

Pretty much all of the acting is wooden and visibly stilted, with the actors concentrating more on hitting their marks than relaxing into character. Kurt Angle does his best, but comes across in the Kurt Angle wrestling character school of acting. Not altogether a bad thing as a large portion of the likely audience for this will be from his fan base, and he’s a pretty decent all round good guy anyway so why the heck not.

This one is really for fans of the wrestling stars on show, and die hard ‘B’ movie horror fanatics easily forgiving of such well intentioned trite. Former Olympic champion Kurt Angle might have greater success in attaining future gold chasing the end of a rainbow than pursuing a serious acting career, but if he can take himself less seriously in future roles it could be good times for all. Oh it’s true, it’s damn true !.

Movie Rating: 3/10

Review by Paul Cooke / Source UK PAL Region 2 DVD

River Of Darkness (2010)
Director Bruce Koehler
With Kurt Angle, Bill Hinzman, Kevin Nash,
Psycho Sid Vicious, Bill Laing & Ray ‘Glacier’ Llloyd


  1. Aw, now I'm jealous. I want to see Kurt Angle vs. zombie Kevin Nash and Sid Vicious!

    Incidentally, was Kurt Angle just too busy to pose for an actual picture or did they just think that faking one- or two- was better?

    We in Region 1 demand the chance to be disappointed by a Direct-to-DVD release!

  2. Alec, it is actually noticeably sloppy at times, not just with regards to your spot on observation about being around to photo shoot, but with delivery of lines & character interation. It's as though Kurt & others were available for a few days & any re-shoots or necessary inserts were just fudged.
    The Fun draw is having the three wrestlers on screen, and Kevin Nash does briefly get his hands on Kurt, but there unforgivingly is not enough Cop Vs Action hand to hand fighting !!!.

  3. Oh, I knew it would be Damn Truly Bad. But, I know I'll watch this. I actually have a DVD for you Paul. Another wrestling film that should have been much better-but goofy enough to enjoy at times.

  4. I wouldn't expect it any other way David. Give it a view or Big Daddy Kill may come a callin' Cajun stylee :) .