Thursday, October 02, 2014

31 Days of Fright: NIGHT OF THE TENTACLES (2013)

I did not love Dustin Mills' BATH SALT ZOMBIES (reviewed in ER #52), but I found the micro-budgeted paean to flicks like REEFER MADNESS to be just intriguing enough that I might give the director's other efforts like NIGHT OF THE TENTACLES a try. Alas, when push came to shove I ended up sending NIGHT off to one of our reviewers and it sounds like he came away similarly intrigued – and disappointed.

Dustin Mills' NIGHT OF THE TENTACLES is a little bit of a Faustian tale with a great deal of borrowing from such horror films as THE LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS, BASKET CASE and BRAIN DAMAGE. The real problem is that it doesn't bring anything new to the table that these other films haven't done before – and far better. It's nowhere in a league with these films and lands more in the range of something like IDLE HANDS. Unfortunately, being compared to IDLE HANDS is more of a hindrance than a blessing for this little independent effort.

Dave (Brandon Salkil, also in BATH SALT ZOMBIES) – a graphic designer who lives in an apartment complex full of degenerates – spends his days drawing space semen and pining over his downstairs neighbor until he suffers a heart attack. Needing a new heart, he agrees to sign a contract with Satan for his soul but he didn't read it and gets more than he bargained for in return. Satan gives him a new heart but it is soon revealed that the heart must feast on human flesh to stay alive. He starts to feed his neighbors to his heart until the heart threatens the neighbor Dave has fallen in love with. Dave must then decide between life and the loss of his sweetheart or saving her and sacrificing himself for eternity.

If the plot sounds familiar it's because you've probably heard it a million times and it's not much of a spoiler to tell you it plays out just the way you would imagine. Even an attempt to splash a little humor here and there does not elevate the fact that this movie is a retread of a story told many times.

A needless narration by the main protagonist only further complicates matters because Dave's musings try to come off as clever but remain hollow and unnecessary to the overall plot. It feels like the plot is just going through the motions and decided to drag the viewer along – which makes for a very boring affair.

As far as low-budget horror goes the film certainly does a good job with the little they seem to be working with. Dustin Mils' writing lacks punch but he shows some real promise in the production of the rest of the film. The CGI is low-rent but serves it purpose and everything is shot well. The dialogue is stiff at times and the actors seem intent on exaggerating every facial expression, but NIGHT OF THE TENTACLES shows some real promise if not for its lack of originality.

NIGHT OF THE TENTACLES is a movie that you have seen before. It'll get you through the night if you have nothing else to do but you'll forget about it in the morning. However, Dustin Mills shows some potential that may impress if given a better story and a bigger budget. – Adam Knabe

Adam Knabe wrote about the zombie film GROUND ZERO in Exploitation Retrospect #52, available from our website.

NIGHT OF THE TENTACLES is available from Amazon.

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