Lionsgate // 2007 // 80 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Brett Cullum // March 24th, 2008
No secret stays locked away forever.
The After Dark Films Horrorfest is a relatively new film festival established in 2006 that allows indie horror filmmakers a chance to showcase their work, and gives horror fans a chance to check out new talent and films they might otherwise not see. What's unique about the festival is it plays in 350 theatres across the country simultaneously, thus making it a very large, ambitious project. The "Eight Films to Die For" DVD collection assembles all of the movies together, so you can recreate the 2007 festival at home on a smaller scale easily enough.
Crazy Eights is about a group that reunites after 20 years because a mutual friend passes away. In the will of the deceased, it is his wish they open a time capsule buried when they were kids and part of a baseball team they all remember as being called the "crazy eights." Inside the trunk of lost toys is the decaying body of a girl who has been in there since they closed the lid, and soon an innocent trip down memory lane turns into a nightmare. The friends find themselves in an abandoned secret hospital where the ghost of the girl stalks and kills them one by one. Turns out the mysterious hospital they are in is a location where children were cruelly experimented on, and they all have a connection to it none of them remembers until it is too late.
Crazy Eights is notable in the "8 Films to Die For" because it has the best cast out of the entire collection. Traci Lords (Cry-Baby), Dina Meyer (Starship Troopers), Gabrielle Anwar (Body Snatchers), Dan Deluca (American's Most Wanted), and Frank Whaley (World Trade Center) are featured as The Big Chill group of buddies who are sucked in to the scary situation. They make the film interesting and do their best to be horrified gristle for the ghoulish girl out to exact revenge on them.
It looks like a great opportunity to showcase some of your favorite B-movie icons, but unfortunately, the people are not fleshed out well enough to make you concerned for anyone's fate. Where the movie lacks is we don't get to know the characters, and there is nothing given to motivate them. They are getting picked off, and they react strangely by doing everything in horror movies that is now cliché. They split up, they say "I'll be right back," and they never seem to try too hard to get the hell out of the hospital that is killing each of them. Somehow they figure out what is going on, and realize they have to destroy everything that connects them to the dead girl. How do they know to do this? The logic leaps are pretty hard to swallow.
Production values are mid-range, but Crazy Eights does well enough with its limited budget in making the underground children's ward look appropriately scary. The whole thing reminds me a bit of the remake of House on Haunted Hill combined with the all-too-familiar aesthetic of Japanese horror films such as The Ring. The ghost effects center around spooky kids and a girl who is blacked out with stringy hair. Yeah, we've seen most of this before. There are some nice moments with the ghost, including several where she is in the background, not seen until she moves.
The DVDs in this collection are all pretty much standard with the same treatments across the board. Crazy Eights was shot in a super widescreen ratio of 2.37:1, so it is presented with the traditional black space above and below the image as a narrower than usual band. Colors are off mainly due to the autumnal coloring inflicted on the original print by the use of heavy filters. Details are problematic, and the low lighting and purposefully dark sequences make things look even murkier. Crazy Eights was originally shot on video and transferred to film, and the result isn't as crisp as digital. The entire running time has a wash of grain and moments of video noise peppered throughout. A nice surround mix is provided, which mainly kicks in for the jump scares where the sub woofer gets in on the act. The sole extra is the inclusion of webisodes of the Miss Horrorfest Contest for 2007, which is on every After Dark Horrorfest DVD this year. The webisodes are short looks at a reality TV-type contest to name the new mascot, and features a lot of scantily clad Goth girls competing for the title. They're fun, but have no relation to the film.
Crazy Eights feels like it was shot with an incomplete script, and
the editing doesn't help matters. I sometimes wondered if the actors were making
up their lines as they went, since the dialogue has a strangely forced quality
at various points. The story is never clearly defined, and this keeps it from
being a wholly scary experience. We don't know who these people are, the ghost
is never truly motivated, and most of the deaths happen off-screen. The saving
graces of Crazy Eights are the notable cast and the sometimes effective
use of the ghost. Neither of these makes up for the lack of clarity around the
story, but at least it becomes interesting enough to watch for 80 minutes. In
the end, the film is a wasted opportunity that could have been a lot better than
it turned out, but at least we get to see Traci Lords running from a crazed
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Scales of Justice
* 2.35:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 80 Minutes
Release Year: 2007
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Miss Horrorfest Contest Webisodes
* Official Site
* Traci Lords Site