And Then They Were Dead / Guilty Pleasures DVD Review
Written by Peter West "Danger Seeker"
DVD released by Cinema Image Productions
And Then They Were Dead
Written and directed by Ray Schwetz
Tina Krause as Sara
Darian Caine as Gabrielle
Joe Zaso as Dr. Mark Reibolt
Devon Mikolas as Hunter
Sarah K. Lippman as Anna
Willie Hill as William
Sarah K. Lippmann as Anna
Lynn Macri as Rebecca Reibolt
Hugh Daly as Physician
Frank Gagliardotto as Leo
Ray Schwetz as Lance
Kim Knuss as The Host
Stephanie Bauman as Barbara Levine
A young woman is brutally murdered and her disappearance is the highlight of the local news. In the mean time a group of strangers embarks upon a mysterious dinner invitation given to them by a unknown host. As the strangers eat drink and get to know each other friction's between them start to emerge. Fantasies are acted out and dinner guests begin to die. Why are they here for this dinner? Who is their mysterious host? Why are they dying?
Performances by Tina Krauss, Joe Zaso and Darian Caine highlight this story of intrigue. With a theme similar to And Then There Were None, this story combines Agatha Christie with horror as the guest list is trimmed and a secret agenda is revealed. Is the host the only one with secrets? What does the last person standing win? Where did all of this food come from?
Video and Audio:
Shot on digital video, And Then They Were Dead is presented in a full frame 1.33:1 image. For the most part the film is clear and sharp. The night scenes are a little too dark in my opinion, but you can still make out what's going on. Director Schwetz mixes grainy black and white to give the feeling that everything is being watched by the dinner host. I think overall it's a really good effort and a lot of time was put into it to look good.
And Then They Were Dead has a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack. Schwetz's selection of Function Zero to do the music was first rate! It combines energy, danger and keeps the movie moving even if the action has slowed down a bit. The music blends in well to the story and is clear and free of hiss or distortion.
For a low budget independent film Cinema Image has put together a nice little package. A behind the scenes documentary. photo gallery and trailer are included. The commentary with Ray Schwetz and Joe Zaso is pretty interesting and Joe is gives us a few self deprecating laughs. The only drawback to is is that it's a few seconds, well maybe more like 10 or more seconds behind the film. So when they talk about a scene that's happening you have to wait just a little bit for the movie to catch up. My rating 3.5/5
For a $6000 film Ray Schwetz has done a damn good job! Schwetz and Zaso aren't rookies when it comes to low budget filmmaking. The use of local theater talent from NYC combined with known stars of indie films such as Tina Krause and Darian Caine the final product does not have the feel of a small budget film at all. With some gratuitous nudity thrown in and decent gore effects And Then They Were Dead hits the mark of a above average indie film. I enjoyed watching it!
Written and directed by Joseph F. Parda and Joe Zaso
Sasha Graham as RoseMarie Curtis/Monica Larraby (segment "Method to the Madness")
Alexandra Paulhiac as Silvia Resino (segment "Nocturnal Emissions")
Eraldo Maglara as Jerome Fenner (segment "Nocturnal Emissions")
Liz Haverty as Louise (segment "Method to the Madness")
Joseph Marzano as Claude DeCarlo (segment "Method to the Madness")
Carl Marchese as Bill Randazzo (segment "Method to the Madness'")
Rick Poli as Frank (segment "Method to the Madness")
Kevin Ratigan as Joe Braygin (segment "Nocturnal Emissions")
Ruby Honeycat as Kim (segment "Nocturnal Emissions")
Hank Poje as Detective
Ellen Sauchelli as Amy (segment "Method to the Madness")
Johanna Haggerty as Amanda (segment "Method to the Madness")
Xavier Domingo as Monica's Father (segment "Method to the Madness")
Guilty Pleasures is a collection of two short films, I'll discuss them separately:
A serial killer is on the loose killing nude models. Sylvia who has just had a violent breakup with her boyfriend has her best friend fall prey to the killer. At the same time as her friend is murdered Sylvia starts getting threatening phone calls. When Sylvia's ex falls under suspicion for the crimes, she is befriended by one of the investigating detectives (Joe Zaso). Sylvia is soon in bed with the narcissistic cop and discovers she may have more to fear than she originally thought!
Method to the Madness:
Rosemarie is a struggling actress in New York City. To enhance her career she decides to enlist a eccentric theater coach to assist her with "method acting". Being alone in the big city is not easy to begin with and it gets much harder when her past catches up with her. Monica a old friend who believes that Rosemarie may reveal a dreaded secret starts to harass the young actress. When her boss tries to help he finds it's just not wise to get in the middle of a fight involving old "friends".
Video and Audio:
These two short films look to have been shot on VHS. Although not terrible there's a lot to desired in the images. I initially viewed them on my HDTV and that really brought out the flaws, they were less noticeable on a analog tube television. The lighting makes up for some of it, night scenes are pretty clear.
Guilty Pleasures has a Dolby Digital 2.0 track on it. While not as good as the one on And Then They Were Dead, the mix of music is decent and flows well with the stories.
Pretty good in this regard, a trailer, photo gallery and commentary track by Joe Zaso. Joe's pretty entertaining so don't miss it!
The writing of these stories make up for the obvious technical weaknesses in the filming. They are pretty good scripts! The actors give believable roles and these two stories do hold your interest. I am a passion for independent films, everybody has to start off somewhere. Given that Guilty Pleasures is really a bonus to And Then They Were Dead, I'm not going to complain!
For $14.99 this is a really great value! If you like independent films, then this double feature is for you. Don't bother though if you don't have a appreciation of the genre. I first was introduced to Joe Zaso's work when I watched Andreas Schnaas's Nikos the Impaler and was pretty happy when he contacted HorrorTalk to review his latest effort. The blend of good and sometimes "over the top" acting and hard work by the filmmakers will make for a enjoyable evening!
And Then They Were Dead
Films that Peter West reviews are viewed on a Mitsubishi WS-55413 HDTV and listened to on a THX certified Pioneer Elite VSX-55TXi A/V Receiver through a 7.1 setup of JBL Northridge E series Speakers.