Editor’s Notes: The Gallows, The 100: The Complete Second Season, & IndiePix Mix 10 are out on their respective formats October 13th.
The Gallows (Warner Home Video) is yet another in the horror sub-genre of “found footage.” Introduced in The Blair Witch Project back in 1999, this plot device is used to suggest that what we’re watching is actually a lost documentary of supernatural events. It’s been used so often, however, that found footage cinema has become cliche.
The Gallows is a typical low-budget horror flick. A high school drama group rehearses a play called “The Gallows,” a melodrama set during the Puritan era. The play was originally staged in the same location a generation earlier, but the production was abandoned after the death of one of its stars. It’s odd (and convenient to move the plot along) that the young thespians would want to revisit this tragedy when so many other plays are available to them. Eventually, two boys and two girls are trapped in the school late at night and run around yelling and screaming as strange, unexplained happenings transpire and it becomes clear that there’s a sinister presence in the school with them.
Like so many lesser horror films, this one suffers from dim characters doing stupid things merely to keep the plot slogging along. Why is it that teenagers in movies never have the sense to 1) think intelligently; 2) call the police; and 3) avoid potentially fatal situations in the first place? Directors Travis Cluff and Chris Lofing fall back on every gimmick to create shocks, but they’re the kind based on reflex rather than the kind that genuinely terrify. Those, of course, are much harder to achieve.
A bonus extra on the Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack, “The Gallows: The Original Version,” is the same story shot guerilla-style. This feature-length version is what caught the attention of Hollywood producers and ultimately led to the glossier Warner Bros. version. Also included are behind-the-scenes featurelettes, deleted scenes, and a gag reel.
The 100: The Complete Second Season
The 100: The Complete Second Season (Warner Home Video) begins with Clarke (Eliza Taylor) and her friends trapped inside Mount Weather, a nuclear-hardened underground city where no one is safe, especially not The 100. The premise of the show is that 100 teenagers are stranded on earth by a race of aliens 100 years after a nuclear disaster. When Clarke escapes alone, it sets off a chain of events for the trapped heroes, the adults on the ground, and even the Grounders. Alliances will be made, friendships broken and justice served. With everyone fighting for their right to survive, Clarke and friends will have to ask themselves: How far will you go to save the people you love? Many will fight, some will die, and all will be changed forever.
The show capitalizes on the post-apocalypse sub-genre of science fiction as viewed from a Young Adult perspective. If you’re looking for sturdy scientific cornerstones for the stories, you’ll be disappointed. However, the shows do move along crisply, contain lots of action, and feature a good-looking cast of young actors.
The 100 often seems like soap opera in futuristic trappings. There’s more teen angst here than in Rebel Without a Cause, The Breakfast Club, and Dazed and Confused combined. Season 2 keeps things jumping with interesting character arcs, character developments, and a sense of ambiguity about moral questions. With its interesting spin on Genesis, the show’s second season is more sharply focused than the first season. The first show in particular, “The 48,” is a real grabber.
Bonus extras on the 4-disc DVD set include two behind-the-scenes featurettes, 2014 Comic-Con Panel, gag reel, and unaired scenes.
IndiePix Mix 10
IndiePix Mix 10 (IndePix) is a collection of ten films, including drama, comedy and documentary. Since 2004, IndiePix has searched festivals all over the world for the most memorable and compelling films across every genre, as well as the freshest and most original new voices in cinema. It continues to be a major champion of independent film by distributing some of the most praised, creative and poignant films in the marketplace.
Documentaries include The Axe in the Attic, which focuses on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina; Jack Taylor of Beverly Hills, a nostalgic and intimate look at the tailor to stars such as Cary Grant, Dean Martin, and Frank Sinatra; and Echotone, a close-up view into the lives of Austin’s young musicians, one of the top documentaries of 2011. Dramas include All My Friends Are Funeral Singers, an Official Selection of Sundance, and Artois the Goat, about one man’s quest to create the greatest goat cheese the world has ever known.
Other films are Evergreen, in which a Pacific Northwest teen-aged girl yearns to reinvent herself and find something she can be thankful for in the face of poverty; Frontrunner, set in Afghanistan during its first democratic election ever; and The Devilles, a verite glimpse into the lives of burlesque stripper and Marilyn Monroe lookalike Teri Lee Geary (aka Kitten DeVille) and her punk rock singer husband Shawn Geary.
Another title in the collection is Candyman, a documentary recounting the true story of David Klein, an eccentric candy inventor from LA who came up with the concept of Jelly Belly jellybeans. These colorful beans became a pop culture phenomenon, revolutionized the candy industry and were personally endorsed by Ronald Reagan. Shooting Stars(s) is a sort of urban fairy tale about Johnny Nunez, who went from sleeping in his car to being the world’s most famous hip-hop photographer, profiled in The New York Times. The documentary portrays both Nunez’s glamorous life as he mingles with prominent figures such as Russell Simmons, Al Sharpton, Kanye West, Swizz Beats, Ne-Yo, Kimora Lee, and Fabolous.
There are special bonus features on the following titles only: Jack Taylor of Beverly Hills, The Axe in the Attic, Candyman, and Shooting Stars(s).