At night, Judge Mitchell Hattaway watches crappy movies about angels who disguise themselves as prostitutes. At dawn, he cries.
A stylish, ambitious, brutally violent, action-packed horror epic.
Good lord, is a new generation of filmmakers actually being influenced by amateur auteur Mark Borchardt?
Facts of the Case
A couple of drug dealers with thick Boston accents are turned into vampires by a couple of comely angels. Much bloodletting ensues. Then a demon shows up and reveals the angels' true intentions. More bloodletting ensues. Your humble reviewer begins to bemoan his fate. The slitting of his wrists almost ensues.
At Dawn They Sleep is just plain awful. It sucks, sucks, sucks. Out loud. We're talking ineptitude at every level. It is nothing more than an overlong home movie made by a couple of dopes who somehow managed to secure a distribution deal. Hey, that reminds me—I have some old Super 8 footage of my family's trip to Lion Country Safari. Is anyone out there willing to pony up some money for that?
The guys responsible for this travesty are Brian Paulin and Rich George, a couple of Boston buds with a soft spot for gore flicks and speed metal. They cobbled together five thousand bucks (four grand of which must have been spent on the wrap party), borrowed some equipment, called some friends, convinced a few women to get naked, and set out to create their magnum opus. Paulin and George come about as close to achieving true auteur status as is humanly possible. They produced the movie and took the lead roles. Paulin wrote the script, directed, edited, and served as cinematographer. George jumped in as stuntman and supervised the physical effects, while Paulin created the makeup and gore effects. Now that you know who's to blame, it's time to get on with the cheap shots.
Stephen (that would be Paulin) and Ian (that would be George) are supposed to be big time drug dealers, but they're the kind of big time drug dealers who live in an ordinary house in the sticks and drive a Pacer that's in dire need of a trip to Earl Scheib. They are surrounded by a stable of women who—no, wait, they're not. These criminal masterminds are forced to pick up twenty-bucks-a-night prostitutes. But these ladies are not really prostitutes; they are actually angels who are still pissed at God because they expected Him to give them control of the Earth following the end of the war between Heaven and Hell. These angels disguise themselves as hookers, turn their johns into vampires, and then send them out to rid the world of the virus that is humanity. (I'm not sure if this is the first time the angels have attempted this, and I don't think I'm supposed to ask.) Well, Stephen and Ian take to their new assignment with unbridled enthusiasm. They eviscerate a priest and drink his blood (but he had it coming: he was stealing from a charity) and then burn down his church (well, it's actually a model that probably came with a Lionel train set). They also attempt to exact revenge on a rival dealer, but they end up turning him and his cronies into vampires. (Oddly enough, this rival dealer owns the exact same car as Stephen and Ian.) Oh, I almost forgot—intercut with shots of that burning church is footage of an angel and a nun having lesbian sex, after which the angel proceeds to eat the nun's intestines.
It's only after all this has gone down that the demon lord Lynxvosmia shows up and tells Stephen what the angels are really up to. See, Ian and Stephen were promised eternal life, but the demon says the angels will actual banish the friends to eternal limbo. Lynxvosmia asks Stephen to help him kill the angels, which will allow the demon to gain access to a higher plane of existence, which will then allow him to…well, that's when things get a little fuzzy. I am not exactly sure why Lynxvosmia wants to gain access to a higher plane of existence. What I do know is that Lynxvosmia promises Stephen true eternal life, which I guess means there really is a sucker born every minute. Stephen then drinks some of the demon's blood, vomits up some of that green slime they use on Nickelodeon, kills an angel by crushing her sternum (who knew it would be so easy?), and eats a baby made of Play-Doh. This is followed by a fight between Stephen and Ian (who has now fallen in love with the Goth-chick angel who made him a vampire) in which they destroy a power plant and some transformers (or at least, some more Lionel train models), after which they crash into their house, and Ian uses a sword to kill his former best friend. Lynxvosmia shows up, impales the Goth-chick angel (oh, I forgot to mention Stephen had tied her up and left her in his closet), who in death is transformed into a bright light that swallows the demon. Ian then dissolves.
Wait, it's not over! The remaining angels come up with a new plan. They put on their lingerie and head into the woods. One of the angels lies on the ground and covers herself with a (plastic) branch. The other pulls out a sword (the same one Ian used to kill Stephen) and slices open a tree limb. Tree sap pours down onto her chest; it then dribbles off her and splashes onto the chest of the other angel, who is now completely naked (except for her high school class ring) and pleasuring herself. The ground suddenly starts smoking. A decay-covered skeleton emerges from the smoke, sees the angel on the ground, and mounts her. (I almost forgot—there's a nosy possum watching everything from a nearby tree.) The skeleton and the angel simultaneously climax. The skeleton begins spewing bile from its mouth; it then falls to the ground and shatters. The angel sits up and fixes her hair. A rain of blood falls from the sky. Now it's over.
I almost feel bad about this review. Almost. Here are a couple of guys who just want to make movies, and along comes someone like me to make fun of them. Please forgive me, but I cannot help myself. It is obvious Paulin and George simply do not know what they're doing. Yeah, their budget was small, and their equipment was cheap, and their cast was populated by a bunch of, to put it mildly, non-actors. But the road to Hell is paved with good intentions, and apparently so is the road to straight-to-DVD obscurity. It would be one thing if these guys had any discernable talent, but they don't (which probably explains why they were later hired to helm the Misty Mundae-starring Mummy Raider). There is nothing here to suggest they could ever make a good movie. The plotting is inane, and the pretentious dialogue is worthy of more than a few groans. (One early scene contains a long, pointless diatribe regarding people who let MTV influence their musical tastes, which is followed by a diatribe regarding the sellouts in Metallica, which is then followed by a juvenile, tasteless diatribe regarding the sexual orientation of anyone who happens to be a fan of that band.) Paulin (who looks like the bastard child of Kids in the Hall alumnus Bruce McCulloch and Axl Rose) and George (who looks like he could be a roadie for Journey) can't act, nor can any of the other cast members. As for Paulin's skills behind the camera—well, he apparently knows how to turn the camera on and off, but other than that he has nothing going for him. (Paulin is smart enough to give himself two scenes with naked women, but he is not smart enough to leave well enough alone and simply shoot the nude scenes. Nope, this is when actually decides to get all arty and move his camera around, which makes it hard to see what is happening. Let's face it, female nudity is one of the major selling points of this movie, so why obscure it?) And the action scenes! Driverless cars crashing into one another! (I guess they tied bricks to the gas pedals.) Guys firing forty rounds without reloading their guns! (There are no muzzle flashes during the shootouts. The flashes on these guns pop up near the ejection ports.) Vampires flying through the air! (The flying effects are achieved by having Paulin and George lie on a table while a fog machine blows across their faces.) Remember what I said about George serving as stuntman? Well, this leads to a really funny bit in which a seventy-year-old, soon-to-be-vampire-meat priest dressed in a black suit suddenly becomes the twenty-something George, who is dressed in black jeans and a burgundy jacket. Heh-heh.
Oh, yeah, one more thing—some of the gore effects are passable, but the makeup work is pretty cheesy, not to mention derivative: Lynxvosmia, whose horns wiggle whenever he moves, looks like the anorexic younger brother of Darkness from Legend, and Ian's rebirth as a vampire resembles, of all things, the botched cocoon bit from This is Spinal Tap.
Okay, let's move on to the disc itself. The transfer is a mixed bag; many daytime exterior shots look pretty good, but most of the interior shots are mediocre, and nighttime shots look quite bad. The stereo audio track, which is actually hollow, tinny-sounding mono, is rife with cracks, pops, hiss and distortion (so much so that at several points I thought my speakers were frying). Extras include a behind-the-scenes featurette that's almost as inept as the movie itself, some bloopers, and a couple of photo galleries, one of which features the women who portrayed the angels in various states of undress. There's also Damnation, a short film that features more female nudity intercut with some nonsensical footage of demons cavorting in trees. Lastly, there's a commentary by Brian Paulin and Rich George. They go on about how proud they are of the film, how most of it turned out better than they thought it would, and how great the effects are (yeah, they're delusional). They plug the bands whose music they employ on the soundtrack (bands you've never heard of, nor will you ever hear of them), and how they had to wait for Paulin's parents to go on vacation before they could start messing up the house. They also invite anyone who is interested to check out their latest movie, which, thankfully, has yet to find a title or distributor. (I'm keeping my fingers crossed.)
Given the subject matter, I can think of only one phrase to describe At Dawn They Sleep: holy crap.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Alternative Cinema
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