Tempe Video // 2006 // 81 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Dylan Charles (Retired) // March 16th, 2007
"No one leaves this gang alive!"
We all know that there are two kinds of bad movies: 1) fun bad and 2) so bad that one loses faith in humanity. There is absolutely no doubt that The Red Skulls is a bad movie. The description on the case clues you in on this. Mutated, cannibalistic street gangs do not equal Citizen Kane. The big question about The Red Skulls is whether or not it's a fun bad movie.
Bronston. Youth gangs control the streets. The Red Skulls are currently at the top of the pack, but dissension is brewing in the ranks.
Betrayal leads to the gang turning into violent murderous, zombie-like things. Think 28 Days Later zombies and you'll get the idea. Only Uri (Luke Campbell), the former leader of the Skulls, can stop them.
Nonstop violence and nonstop bad follow.
So, you've read the plot synopsis. I can only assume that you think you know what you're in for. But it's worse than that.
The plot is nothing more than a loose construct to introduce zombies to gang violence. Which is fine by me -- I'm not one to be upset when a zombie takes a linoleum knife to the neck, even if it means sacrificing logical sense and character development.
There's an early scene which aptly describes the experience of watching The Red Skulls. Lester (Chuck Cieslik), the current leader of the Red Skulls, tells a new recruit that "smoking a cigarette with a filter is a lot like sucking a tit through a sweater." He proceeds to pinch the filter off his cigarette. But apparently, he has a pack of magically regenerative smokes. The filter is soon back for the duration of the scene. And never again does Lester appear with a filterless cigarette. This is just one of many crimes against continuity that this flick commits, which includes (but is not limited to) a medical warehouse that contains boxes that are clearly labeled "fright gloves," and beer that changes color between shots.
Lester is actually one of my favorite characters, but it's less because he's such a likable guy with depth and charm and more because Cieslik is one of the few actors who plays his part with any real gusto. The others are folks who aren't professional actors, as they mentioned several times in the commentary. And it shows. Though, I think it would be hard to find anyone who could naturally deliver lines such as, "I like it rough too. In fact, I masturbate with sandpaper." At the very least, it's obvious they're having fun. And when actors have fun, everyone does!
Nowhere is this more obvious than in the epic gangbanger-versus-zombie battles. This is where the movie excels. Sort of. For example, at one point during the big climatic fight at the end, a rival gang member leaps onto Uri's back. Uri then proceeds to back into a tree in an attempt to knock him off. Both actors take pains to look backwards in order to make sure that they're on course toward the tree. And then there's the gore. And, oh lord, is there gore. Arms and heads go flying. Throbbing boils and gushing wounds. The characters who are bleeding profusely go the extra mile to make sure they spray blood all over bystanders. It's almost pornographic, the horror movie equivalent of a money shot. They have special effects that rival some bigger pictures I've seen recently, all thanks to their effects guy Ricky Lee Leonard.
And this all adds up to one of the better bad movies I've seen. It's short, and its pace is never sluggish. Even the slow, talky bits are made enjoyable by some extremely questionable dialogue. It's got violence to the hilt and characters you want to see die. And then, thankfully, they do die. In awful, awful ways.
One major problem is the twitchy transfer. There were several points where there were glitches on the screen. It passes fairly quickly and doesn't really deter from the experience that much.
The extras widely vary in quality from average to trauma-inducing. The commentary is confusing due to the large number of people present on the track. There are one or two interesting stories buried in there, but they're only interesting to the die-hard fans of The Red Skulls. There are also two making of featurettes, one focused on the FX and the other a general making of flick. They're both fairly unfocused and have a tendency to ramble. The outtakes reel is more or less just there.
The music video included with the movie is from a band that was featured in The Red Skulls. It's several people standing in front of some kind of blue screen while the band occasionally performs the song. I'm at a loss to explain what the "plot" of the video is or what's even going on half the time. All I know is it was most likely only included on the DVD as a way to show that there are worse things in existence than The Red Skulls.
I feel a fond affection toward this movie, the same way I do toward Jason X or my mom's brain-damaged cat. The dialogue approaches ludicrous levels of atrocious, there's mindless violence and a story with as many twists and turns as a pencil. If you like bad movies, give it a rental. It'll be the worst half-hour you've ever spent. In a good way.
The Red Skulls is found guilty as charged, but sentence is commuted due to the artful way in which the defendant cut up the bodies.
Review content copyright © 2007 Dylan Charles; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Tempe Video
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 81 Minutes
Release Year: 2006
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Audio Commentary by Cast and Crew
* Behind-the-Scenes Featurette
* Makeup FX Featurette
* Outtakes Reel
* "Freaky Tiki" Lords of the Highway Music Video
* "Cordoba Nights" Preview
* Splatter Rampage DVD Trailers