Dead Hunt Movie Review
Written by Daniel Benson
A Timewarp Films Production
Directed by Joe Ripple and Don Dohler
Written by Eric Martin Strauss
2006, 85 minutes, Not rated
DVD released on September 24th, 2007
Dennis Hill as Shawn "Slamdance" Hammond
Sara Cole as Laura "Double-L" Lansing
John Patrick Barry as Blake "Witchhunter" Procter
Colleen Taylor as Aden "AK-47" Kramer
Justin Timpane as Matt "Hackmaster" Hargreaves
Ann Marie Barbour as Sari Keller
Leanna Chamish as Raven Rinaldi
Joe Ripple as Nick "Slash and Burn" Keller
Benjamin Schyan as David "The Boss" Lansing
Angela Watson as Rachelle "R.I.P." PAige
Andrew C. Ely as Steven "The General" Grant
Reviewers from the HorrorDVDZone website are meeting up for a party at a warehouse, the night before heading to HorrorCon. They’ve known each other online for some time, but few of them have met offline.
After the introductions, site owner Dave (Benjamin Schyan) introduces the evening’s special guest, scream queen Raven Rinaldi (Leanna Chamish, Stakes).
Their euphoria is short-lived, as the power is cut and members of the group start disappearing. And when they’re found, they’ve been killed in a variety of ways that mimic horror movies they’re all familiar with. Each body is left with a note. A quote from a review the victim wrote.
Is there a psychopath stalking the group? Or is one of the reviewers not what they seem?
OK, let’s get this out of the way first; the Dead Hunt screenplay was written by our very own Eric Strauss, and the movie was directed by forum regular and Timewarp head honcho, Joe Ripple. So I was really hoping the movie wouldn’t suck hard.
My colleagues had reviewed Ripple’s earlier movies (Stakes, Vampire Sisters, and Harvesters) and found plenty to enjoy, so chances were good that I’d enjoy this one.
And I did.
While it oozes neither polished acting nor heaps of originality, I had a whole lot of fun watching it. The basic premise of the story was done in 1973 in Theatre of Blood, where a bitterly affronted actor exacts his revenge on the critics that insulted him, by killing them in the manner of Shakespearian plays. Fast forward 33 years and it’s an antagonized director instead of an actor, and horror movie death scenes instead of Shakespeare. OK, that’s probably a plot spoiler, but to be honest, by the second or third kill you’d have figured it out anyway.
The aforementioned acting ranges from reasonably competent to fairly stiff. But the acting is not the sum of the movie, it’s more the attitude and general direction, which always keeps its tongue loosely pressed into its cheek. Never totally hammy, but also never entirely serious, it strikes exactly the right balance for this level of film. I’ve always thought that it’s unwise for a director to appear in anything more than a cameo in low-budget movies, but in the case of Joe Ripple, he actually stands out as one of the stronger performers.
Behind the camera and in the editing room, Don Dohler’s touch has ensured that the pacing is perfect. And I mean perfect. There was never a moment when I found myself checking the timer for how long was left, and that’s something I do quite often during much bigger budget movies than this.
There are some nicely executed (no pun intended) special effects to accompany the murders, providing a satisfying amount of gore. A handful of cheap digital effects are employed, but they blend so seamlessly into the story you wouldn’t notice them unless you were looking hard.
One of the things that lets Dead Hunt down a little, is the phenomenon known as ‘typical horror movie character stupidity’. An unlikely (although not altogether unpleasant) sex scene between two characters while a killer runs loose, leading to the foolish idea to crouch down and see if your friend is OK mid-fight with the killer. Add to this the vastly overused, and now wholly expected cliché of turning one’s back on the killer’s “body” after the final showdown, and the movie loses a couple of credibility points.
Overall, a fun ride and one I genuinely enjoyed. I have no hesitation in recommending Dead Hunt.
Or am I just saying that for fear of a vengeful reprisal from Joe Ripple?
Audio, video and special features not rated as this was a screener disc.
Footnote: Timewarp Films would like you to know that this was Don Dohler's last film prior to passing away at age 60. His love of making movies and entertaining audiences around the world was very important to him, and we thank all of Don's fans over the years for their support. He will be truly missed.